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A show-down after the Harvard vs. Yale homecoming game proves that even with an Ivy League degree, you can still be confronted with the terrors of race in America.

Jezebel reports that a party held in Boston this weekend for Black Harvard and Yale students was shut down shortly after 11pm because the club owner assumed a lengthy line of African Americans waiting outside would make the club “look bad.”

The story reads, “A group of recent graduates had sold tickets in advance for a party at a new Boston club, Cure, to follow Saturday’s Harvard-Yale game. By 10:30pm, though, club management freaked out and claimed it had seen “local gang bangers” around, despite the strict guest-list policy implemented by organizers.”

The club demanded that the Ivy grads show a student ID in the beginning, but later decided to call the whole party off.

In an email detailing the situation, the event’s organizer, Michael Beal, says, “We were perceived as a threat because of our skin color.” Beal continues stating he doesn’t believe the club owner is racist. “I am further dismayed that after having spent the last few hours with the club owner, I do not believe him to be a racist; which only adds to my consternation around what this event says about race relations in our country.”

Discriminatory circumstances like what occurred at a Harvard vs. Yale after-party, is but one of many incidents for Black students attending predominately White universities in predominately White communities. Seemingly there are few safe spaces on and off campuses in America.

Read the full email below:

————— Forwarded message —————
From: Beal, Michael [redacted]
Date: Sun, Nov 21, 2010 at 7:50 AM
Subject: AN APOLOGY AND EXPLANATION REGARDING TONIGHT’S HARVARD-YALE PARTY AT CURE
To: [redacted]

Dear friends,

On behalf of Brandon, Kwame, myself and Triumph as an organization I want to profusely apologize for the ordeal you were put through tonight with the club shutting the party down at 11:15PM. Please know that we are working with event-brite to refund every person who purchased a ticket for tonight’s event as soon as possible. Asides from an apology I believe it is important to be completely transparent about what occurred tonight and what we are doing about it. I apologize for the verbose nature of the email, and hope that you will take the time to read it in its entirety.

What Happened?

At approximately 10:30PM club management called the owner to say that they saw individuals on line whom they recognized as “local gang bangers” (their words not mine). In response to this, the club owner directed the bouncers to only let individuals with a Harvard or Yale ID in to the club. At this point Kwame and I argued that no alumnus would have his or her expired college ID with them and reiterated that the reason we did the party on a pre-sold basis with strict admittance based solely on the guest list was to guarantee that the only attendees were Harvard and Yale alumni, grad students and their close friends and to ensure that no “bad seeds” could contaminate our party. However, given that this was the club’s opening weekend, the owner was particularly sensitive to anything going wrong.

At approximately 10:45, after we won the argument concerning the amazing quality of our crowd and the strictness of our guest list, management began letting people in but then became worried that as our crowd waited in line it could attract the attention of “local gang bangers” passing by who would try to gain entrance to our party. Furthermore, they feared that if these individuals were turned away for not being on the guest list they could hypothetically cause problems with the bouncers outside of the club and draw negative attention to the establishment. Despite the fact that our Friday night party went off without a hitch and had no problems when we turned people away from the door for not being on our list, management decided to shut the party down as to avoid the hypothetical chance of attracting the “wrong crowd” (again their words not mine). In spite of our attempts to reason with them, we were left in a position where despite agreeing with our logic, the decision had been made and we were left powerless

Please be assured that we are working with event-brite to refund every person who purchased a ticket for tonight’s event as soon as possible. To those who gained entrance and wasted their money on cabs and drinks at the bar I am extremely sorry. As anyone who knows us understands, the only reason we created Triumph was to foster an environment where educated individuals (black and non-black) can congregate knowing that they are amongst like-minded persons. As a Harvard Business School student I am annoyed by the financial loss we will record as a result of the club’s rash decision.

As a Harvard college alum I am angry that my college roommate flew in from Los Angeles and my teammate from San Francisco and were denied the opportunity to reconnect with old friends on our homecoming weekend. However, as a black man, these emotions are trumped by an arduous feeling of sadness that regardless of our crowd representing the pinnacle of academic achievement as Harvard and Yale College alumni, Law, Medical, Business and PhD students, we were perceived as a threat because of our skin color. I am further dismayed that after having spent the last few hours with the club owner, I do not believe him to be a racist; which only adds to my consternation around what this event says about race relations in our country.

Kwame and I thought that we had taken every precaution to ensure that this night would go on without incident but have learned a valuable lesson from this. We usually go through painstaking detail to be explicit and transparent about our crowd as to have no surprises the day of the event. We did not do that in this case as we thought Harvard and Yale alumni and Graduate students spoke for its self. We also did not negotiate directly with the owner but rather used a booking agent to secure this beautiful club before it opened to the public. These are lessons learned and we will never make these mistakes again if we ever do another event.

Over the next days and weeks we will work with the club’s management and Harvard student groups to ensure that this does not happen to others in the future. Again, I am sorry for and embarrassed by what happened tonight. We will keep you posted as things progress and appreciate the support you have shown us over the last five years of Triumph. We have sent this email to all those who purchased tickets via event-brite but realize we are missing many email addresses of those affected by tonight. If you know of others who should receive this email please forward it to them. If there is anything I can do to help in the future please feel free to reach out to me or Kwame directly.

Sincerely,
Michael Beal (Harvard ’06, HBS ’12), Kwame Owusu-Kesse (Harvard ’06, HBS ’12, HKS ’12) and Brandon Terry (Harvard ’05, Oxford ’07, Yale PhD ’12)

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  • While I understand that passing judgment on someone’s character or intentions can not be assumed or discerned from a single incident and after having a healthy discussion with them there could be some contributory factors on both sides that can bring the matter to an amicable conclusion but to not outright label the acts as racist and subsequently exonerate the owner from being considered racist in my opinion is wrong and borders on irresponsible. In no way do I mean to besmirch, chastise or take an argumentative tone towards anyone for their perception of anything or anyone else but I simply mean to make a point which I think is valid and should be considered. This was a blatantly obvious act of racial discrimination and should be named as such. They disenfranchised a group of people based on their race.
    Setting intention aside, the facts are the facts because whether the intentions were to protect the image of the club or the safety of their bouncers to practice such acts on a consistent and continuous basis one can only conclude that the practitioner/owner was a racist. The owner may only practice racism in the realm of business but he is still a practicing racist which inherently makes him a racist, period.
    This includes his manager, whom obviously lied that there were known “gang bangers” in the line and even if that were the case it was a pre-invited group which would have filtered out those “gang bangers”. The only deduction there is that he was a lazy, fearful, racist that did not want to do his job if he were to be confronted by those supposedly known “gang bangers”. The job of bouncers is to keep things in control and if they get out of control then they should call the police or not take that job. They have a choice to be bouncers and there should not be policies in place that excuse them from their duties based on the race of the patrons. Only a racist would accept such policies.
    Political correctness for the sake of honor, image, business relations and the like are understandable but still its damaging affects should not be acceptable or tolerated. The saddest thing, I believe, is that we are forced to continue to have to do business with racist people and for the sake of those relationships we can not state their apparent racism for fear of the future repercussions of not being able to do business with them.
    That was a modern day example of De Facto Jim Crow law that could have easily read “Non-Blacks Only” as any crowd outside of a night club especially on its first night is good for business because it represents free marketing with live advertisements but to cast the aspersion that a black crowd would hurt the club in some way is absolutely offensive. This is especially offensive to those of us minorities that have gone through the ranks of prestigious colleges and universities against the odds and are not “gang bangers” nor “drug dealers” and in fact frown upon the “gang banger” and “drug dealer” lifestyle because of the horrendous damage its directly done to our communities and the obvious detriment they have been to our ability to get a fair shake by racists who consider us all either the same or their attraction. Neither of which is true.
    My final point, which is based solely on speculation from the resulting comments that the owner is not a racist, is that he now has no incentive or inclination to discontinue his racist polices and practices and once someone chooses to enact and enforce disadvantageous and damaging policies based on race they are definitely a racist. As I stated in the beginning, to each his own, but “Call a Spade a Spade”, pun intended because the facts are the facts. That’s my pence…

  • incomprehensible…..

  • Robin

    Just another example of why supporting black businesses makes so much sense.