On Saturday, Oct. 19th 2019, I went downtown to blow off steam from an extensive week of school. Little did I know before the night was over, I would be traumatized. At first the night was amazing, it was my first time at Stilllife and I was dancing with friends as strobe lights flashed across our faces. Usually on weekends I like to stay home and get rest but this night I wanted to try something new. I was the only person of color in our small group, and mistakenly I didn’t think the color of my skin would be a problem for me until it became one.
Things began to go downhill after we decided to switch to a different club after some weird encounters with people at Stilllife. My friends and I stepped outside in the cold as it began to rain softly over our heads. We walked across the street from Stilllife and started to head toward the entrance of Fifth Street Distillery. Before I even made it inside the door one of the workers began to make chicken noises at me and started to laugh. So I began to do the chicken dance because I thought everything was all fun and games. Then a white man dressed in call camo who is tasked with putting wrist bands on patrons said to me, “you better get your s***t together or I am going to get you kicked out.” That night I only had a few drinks and I was 100% coherent. My friend came to my defense and said “he’s not even drunk,” and the man replied, “you can’t tell me he is not drunk, so if you do not get your s***t together I am going to get you kicked out.” I immediately felt uncomfortable and I knew exactly why he singled me out. I began to tell my friends that I wanted to go home, but we decided that we were going to just check out the scene.
Not even five minutes of me entering the club I saw a white bouncer starting to harass an African-American student and grabbing him by his chest. Then out of nowhere another white bouncer brutally choke slammed this innocent man to the wall and ground. Then the bouncer wrapped his arm around the young man’s neck and dragged him across the floor in a choke hold. My friends and I stood there in shock and it felt as if I was living in the infamous Jim Crow era where African-Americans were being brutally beaten for trying to fight for freedom. Now when I close my eyes I can only see the boy’s face stained in my brain as he was being dragged out of the bar. I began to follow them because I wanted to make sure that he was ok. However, my friends were worried for me and held on to me saying, “Jahad don’t go out that way.” I told them to get off of me and that I wanted to leave. Then as I turned I seen another bouncer at the top of the stairs eyeing me down like a hawk. Then I knew that I was probably going to be next and that I was not safe whatsoever.
I left the bar in anger that this brutal attack happened to this young man and worried about all students of color who go downtown every weekend. You see I wish this was an incident that happened once in a blue moon but no it isn’t. This is an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long. From discriminatory entrance practices, overly aggressive bouncers, and racist dress codes that prohibits grills, joggers, and chains. The bars in downtown Greenville have been off the hook for far too long when it comes to discrimination and it is time that something is done about it. I urge students of color to not support the bars downtown, because you never know when it will be you who will be dragged out of a bar in a choke hold. At the same time, I urge school administrators to do more to protect students and to stop urging students to act solely on their own. It is time that they stand up and denounce the discriminatory practices that harms students who they are supposed care for. We must widen this dialogue to all students, faculty, staff, and bar owners in Greenville. It is time we stand up, speak out, and boycott these businesses that only see people of color as cash crops rather than human beings!