This is actual dialogue (the conversation has been condensed for this comic) between a dancer and a manager from a club in DC. She sent me the audio recording of their conversation after she was asked not to return to work until her braids are taken out.
This is not an uncommon practice in strip clubs everywhere. The owner is never around to back up his "preference." In fact, a strip club owner is hardly ever at the club, and if he is he usually refuses to engage with the dancers. Unless a club is paying dancers as employees, they are not allowed to enforce a dress code. They are, however, allowed to have "preferences" for their independent contractors who have to pay the club to lease the facility to run their businesses as entertainers. Whenever management needs to reinforce anti-black "preferences" this is what they are trained to say. It is how it is, and it's racist.
Class-action lawsuits are a dime a dozen in this business, but all that ever comes of them is a modest check and (usually) a termination of your lease (they can't fire you, so that's how it's phrased). A lot of dancers just incur the cost of shitty, racist labor conditions because each club is more or less the same.
In conversation with the dancer who submitted this story, I still suggested legal action, because this is America and the common refrain to injustice is "sue the motherfucker." But she mused, "Would I really have a case if it's 'just a preference' and that I can 'do whatever I want when I own my own [strip club]'?"
So what do we do? Have any dancers successfully worked through this at their club? Let's talk about it.