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Dominique Wilkins, Other African-Americans Feel Your Pain

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Dominique Wilkins, I feel your pain.


Like many African-Americans, restaurants and other businesses have refused service to me too.


Although, those who do not believe that racism exists will probably say the reason the business refused service did not involve race, often the only thing African-Americans are left with to explain their mistreatment is race when they can think of no other plausible reason for the denial of service.


The Root reported, “On Saturday, the NBA legend took to Twitter to call out the popular French restaurant (Le Bilboquet in Atlanta) for refusing him service. Allegedly it was because of his attire, but as anyone who’s familiar with Wilkins knows, the dude doesn’t even leave the house without looking like a GQ model. So let’s just a call a thing a thing and say his skin made for the perfect sin.”


The former Atlanta Hawks superstar tweeted, “In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world. But never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta In @LeBilboquet #turnedawaybecauseimblack.”


Wilkins told CNN’s Don Lemon that the restaurant said that the basketball Hall of Famer “wasn’t dressed fashionably enough.”


“I’m dressed better than most of the guys that was in there,” Wilkins, 61, said. “Very chic dressed. I had a nice pullover shirt, long cargo black pants, with nice sneakers. Now, to the left of me, it was three White guys coming in with shorts, T-shirts and sneakers.”


The Hawks legend said that the restaurant denied him a table even though the restaurant had plenty of tables available at the time.


Sadly, I can feel Wilkins’ pain because I had a similar event happen to me, on my birthday no less.


A few weeks or a month before one of my birthdays, I had gone to a popular bar at the time called Sawyer Park on Washington Avenue in Houston.


The first night that I went to the bar I had gone with some White high school classmates, and they had purchased drinks for me that night.


As a result, I had no interaction with any of the staff members at Sawyer Park.


The disc jockey played a lot of music from African-American artists from my childhood like Whitney Houston, so I had a great time.


I did not pay that much attention to the racial makeup of the audience.


But suffice it to say, it was probably a mixed crowd.


Since I do not look at everything racially, I decided to go back on my birthday.


I took my sister and invited some friends as well.


Unfortunately, what started as a great birthday (on a Friday too), turned into an episode that I will never forget.


The restaurant refused to serve my sister and me.


Unlike Wilkins, my sister and I sat ourselves because it was just a sports bar and not a fancy French restaurant.


To the left and right of me, I saw White people, Latino people and Asian people all being served by the wait staff.


Meanwhile, the wait staff just ignored my sister and me.


Like Wilkins, I like to dress impeccably.


So does my sister.


And in my humble opinion, we were hands down the best dressed people in the bar.


Might I add that I did not name my company Regal for no reason.


Acting in a classy and sophisticated manner is obviously of the utmost importance to me.


Even though it was just a sports bar, my sister and I were the classiest people in the spot.


So when Sawyer Park refused to serve us and we had to find food elsewhere on my birthday, the only thing that we could think of for the treatment was race.


Furthermore, any logical person would think the same if the restaurant had no problem serving Whites, Latinos, Asians, men and women.


The only thing different about my sister and I was that the color of our skin was darker than all the other patrons, even the other minorities.


Mark Hoefer, general manager of Le Bilboquet, said, “(Wilkins) was turned away because he was not in compliance with our dress code, it has nothing to do with the color of his skin. He was in track pants, and we were being consistent with our policy. If we would have let him (in) because of his celebrity status, we would have been discriminatory toward everyone we’ve turned away, based on that same policy.”


That entire statement from Hoefer is nonsense if I ever heard it.


Wilkins said that some White customers had shorts on.


Furthermore, unless the restaurant has an established dress code that is posted on its website or at the establishment, then they really do not have a dress code.


The dress code excuse is just to shield them from looking racist.


However, they still look racist and disingenuous because they had the nerve to say that other people would be discriminated against if celebrities received special treatment.


There is not an American on Earth that is not used to celebrities getting preferential treatment.


While regular civilians must pay for luxury items, celebrities often get them for free because of the publicity that the businesses will receive from a celebrity endorsement.


As a college student and fraternity member, we had strict dress codes for our weekend parties, which included no sneakers, no T-shirts, no jerseys, no baseball caps, etc.


The fraternity posted the dress code on all flyers, so our dress code wasn’t a surprise when patrons reached the venue.


And the times in which we let people get in that did not meet the dress code, it was often a famous rapper like C-Murder.


The college students did not complain that C-Murder did not meet the dress code.


Those students understood that having celebrities at the party only boosted the party’s image.


Furthermore, they were happy to be partying with a platinum-selling rapper from No Limit Records.


The dress code excuse is something that allows business owners to refuse service to people that they do not want to let in, and that is usually a minority.


But the funny thing is when word gets out that restaurants like this are discriminating against African-Americans, then they sometimes lose the support of their White, Latino and Asian patrons.


Why would a White, Latino or Asian person want to patronize a business where their African-American friends would not be welcome?


Many of the bars on Washington Avenue in Houston faced racism and discrimination allegations years ago.


Some like Sawyer Park went out of business, only to be replaced by African-American owned establishments.


I call that poetic justice.


It would be a shame if that same fate awaits Le Bilboquet in Atlanta, which has a large African-American population.


If Le Bilboquet goes out of business, I am pretty sure that Sawyer Park in Houston will feel their pain.


Unfortunately, I will not because they would have done it to themselves.

This article was published on Friday 28 May, 2021.
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