I attended the License and Welfare Committee meeting this evening as I am interested in seeing how the city intends to handle the blatant violations of the law which occurred at the City Haul Lounge. After much wrangling, the committee voted to pursue due process hearings, which could result in a suspended or revoked license for the owner, Leonard Hand.
While I think the committee made the right decision, I am more intrigued by one aspect of Hand's defense. Hand has now stated repeatedly that he will ensure that the problems, which include underaged drinking and gun possession, will be remedied, in part, by his decision to discontinue the playing of hip-hop music. It is quite clear, to me at least, that the word hip-hop is a kind of code for black. In other words, Hand seems to be saying that he will see to it that his bar will try to discourage black people (or at least the troublemaking black people) from frequenting his establishment. In fairness to Hand, this is not the first time I have heard prospective or embattled license holders swearing off hip-hop music. Swearing off hip-hop music is a popular strategy to gain favor with city council members. As an aside to Alderman Helding, a frequent reader of Free Racine, I am not suggesting that it is necessarily a winning strategy, only a popular one.
At any rate, in this day of hypersensitivity, I find it hard to believe that a white bar owner could say anything of the sort without angering some black people. I believe it was obvious to everyone in the room that Hand was delivering a coded message, telling the committee members that he will discourage young blacks from entering his bar. I would think some people would find this a bit upsetting. I do.