And this is the naked truth. I thought that what happened to me was an isolated instance, but lately I have been hearing more stories about how non-white students are being bounced from Catwalk. I thought it would be appropriate to raise this very unfortunate issue in light of MOJO week, as the theme centres around race and racism today.
We are often too scared to talk about such things because as a non-white student on campus, you don’t want to be labelled as one of ‘those’ who continuously complain about racism. But at some point the line has to be drawn, wtf, it’s 2012 and I can’t get into a club in Stellenbosch because I’m not white?!
So if I don’t raise this issue as an educated youth, then who will? So enough is enough. Today I expose Catwalk and may this be a warning to other clubs and restaurants around campus that hide behind the ‘Right of Admission Reserved’ signs.
It is now common cause amongst black and coloured students that you have to meet three requirements before you can enter Catwalk:
1) Have your student card ready
2) Have your ID with you
3) Pay an exorbitant entrance fee
There is only one requirement for white students to enter:
1) Be white.
It has happened to me personally. I was asked for my student card and produced it and was then asked for my ID, all of this took place while groups of white students were let through while I was being harassed. After I fulfilled these requirements, I was requested to pay a R20 entrance fee. I thought that I would next be asked for my ‘dompass’.
Again, white students were entering the club without being charged entrance and without being ‘carded’. I was prepared to pay the entrance fee. A friend of mine was visiting from Cape Town and he had his ID ready, but no student card because he does not study here. They would not let him enter. This naturally meant that I was not going to enter the club then either.
The inner lawyer in me wanted to address the issue right there and then. But I soon realised that a bouncer probably did not come up with these clearly racist rules. I was furious however. Recently more black and coloured students had been talking about the exact same degrading and unequal treatment they had received from Catwalk bouncers. The intention of Catwalk’s managers are very clear- they only want white students to party there. The bouncers are tasked to control and discourage the rest of us from having a good dance and a little drink with our white counterparts.
There is one exception though; if you’re in a white crowd or if the white girl you’re with can convince the bouncer that you’re her boyfriend, then you’re pretty much set.
We have been complacent with such treatment at Catwalk (and other clubs) for way too long. We are not only here to fight racism and other social issues on campus. I refuse to live in a bubble. As agents for social change we need to address these issues in society, and especially our town. We need to make it clear that we refuse to tolerate unequal treatment in any form and in any space.
[I will be sending an official complaint to the management of Catwalk. If you have any personal experiences or have witnessed such conduct, then please comment below.]