By Genevieve Mills–
U of L students who frequent Fourth Street Live!, a series of bars and restaurants located downtown, are probably aware of its after-hours dress code. What these students might not be aware of are the protests against this dress code that deem it unfair and discriminatory.
The dress code is “smart casual attire,” according to the business’s website, and prohibits “profanity on clothing, sleeveless shirts on men, excessively torn clothing, exposed undergarments on men, full sweat suits, sweat pants, excessively long shirts (when standing upright with arms at your side, the bottom of your shirt cannot extend below the tip of your fingers), sunglasses (after 9 p.m.), and athletic shorts.”
This description was recently added to the website after Cordish Co., the owner of Fourth Street Live!, met with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, one of the organizations that organized protests in December against what protestors called a racially discriminatory dress code. A toll free number for complaints was also created and the ban against bandanas was removed after this meeting, but on Jan. 21st more protestors made it clear that these changes were not enough.
Dozens of protesters stood outside the entrance to Fourth Street Live!, saying that the dress code is not consistently enforced and then enforced against black people. Theresa Boyd told reporters of how she and her boyfriend weren’t allowed admittance last summer, although she thinks they were dressed appropriately in “a summer dress and he had on slacks, flats and a silk shirt.”
Protestors pointed out that not all cultures dress the same, and the current dress code discriminates against those who see baggy pants as stylish, not casual. While they acknowledge that any business has the right to have a dress code, they don’t have the right to use this dress code to racially discriminate.
There have been a series of protests that are leading to local social justice organizations working with Cordish Co. to solve the problem. The meeting on Dec. seventh won’t be the last, as another is scheduled this month. Protestors saw the gathering on Monday as a follow-up protest, as they believe know serious changes had yet been made, and that there are no plans to make them.
Allegations of a racially exclusive dress code have been trickling in since the strip opened in 2004, but the first major media attention to the event occurred in July of 2006, when two of the cases was first brought to court.
Photo: Lara Kinne/The Louisville Cardinal