I was shocked to read Joanna Salmen’s opinion column regarding the protesting of the bar dress codes.

Johnny O’s and Brothers do have the constitutional right to maintain a dress code for their patrons. The protesters were not trying to take this right from the businesses. They were trying to convince other patrons to take the inherently racist dress codes into account and to reconsider who they are willing to give their money to. They were also trying to send out a message to the bar owners that practices of exclusion, especially exclusion that has racist orientation, not only reflects negatively on them as people, but is also bad for business.

Salmen tried to assuage Herald readers by describing her high school dress code and how it was appropriate for her private school.

What her plaid skirt has to do with racist dress codes at the bars eludes me. Maybe we should bring it into context. If she was told she could not get into one of the bars unless she had makeup, a skirt and heels on, she would be protesting, claiming that the dress codes were sexist (or at least I hope she would).

The bottom line is the guidelines are racist. You columnist made the statement that “the dress code prohibits items of clothing that everyone in Madison may be subject to wear from time to time.” I apologize if this is blunt, but I don’t know many white guys that wear “wave/skull caps.”

By saying that the guidelines rightly attempted to “end a yearlong streak of dangerous behavior,” I finally got it. Whenever the guy in the Ben Wallace jersey runs into the guy in the Artest jersey, trouble is in the air. What the community needs to understand is that violence is not propagated by attire; it’s propagated by people, no matter what they wear. The hip-hop community is not at fault.

Zain Tewalthomas

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