SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking through the downtown branch of the Saint Paul Library. He’s way back in the stacks, deeply engrossed in a book, when Avery LIBRELLE pops around the corner. LIBRELLE notices BERG, and tiptoes up to him.]
LIBRELLE: Hey, Merg!
BERG: (Startled) Huh? Oh. It’s you.
LIBRELLE: Bar Louie is Racist!
BERG: Oh, the story about the dress code? That’s kind of a stretch.
LIBRELLE: They bar people wearing clothing that only black people wear.
BERG: You’ve never worked in a bar, have you?
LIBRELLE: I’ve been to a few. I love the Lurcat.
BERG: Naturally. But I meant a bar. A hangout. A dive. I worked in bars – places with pool tables and brawls on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of them barred people wearing “colors”.
LIBRELLE: Because they were racist!
BERG: Well, no – it applied to motorcycle club colors just as much as gangs. Our bouncers kept ’em all out.
LIBRELLE: Yabbut Bar Louie’s dress code pretty much applied only to black people.
BERG: Like Vanilla Ice, Robin Thicke, Ad-Rock and Eminem?
LIBRELLE: Exac…hey, wait ! Those are white guys who dress like…
BERG: …like what?
LIBRELLE: Like you’re a racist!
BERG: Naturally. So here’s a thought experiment for you. Let’s say we started a club. We had a dress code; guys have to wear suits with ties. Is that racist?
LIBRELLE: Of course!
BERG: Why? Black people don’t wear suits and ties?
LIBRELLE: Of course they do.
BERG: I thought they wore sports jerseys and flat-billed baseball caps?
LIBRELLE: Well, not all of them…
BERG: …what’s that? Not all black people are identified by their clothing?
LIBRELLE: [stares blankly, jaw slowly undulating up and down]
BERG: Let’s try this on for size. Pick a bar.
LIBRELLE: The Lurcat!
BERG: OK, sure, the Lurcat. Let’s say as you’re walking toward the Lurcat, you see a group of burly white guys in biker leathers wearing motorcycle club colors. They’re drunk, they’re looking aggressive. Do you go in?
LIBRELLE: That’s silly.
BERG: Or a bunch of intoxicated white guys in grubby jeans and “wife-beater” tank tops waving pool cues about….
LIBRELLE: Don’t be silly. The Lurcat would never…[pauses, stops]
BERG: They’d never allow people in biker gang colors in their joint, much less set up pool tables to draw the blue-collar crowd? Because they’re racists?
LIBRELLE: Because…[head slowly rolls about]
BERG: Because social cues have meaning.
LIBRELLE: Stereotyping people! That’s just so typical of you bitter gun-clinging Jeeeeebus freaks in flyoverland!
BERG: Sure. Later!