Sleep With One Eye Open: Securing Black Events
by Nadra Enzi
Recently, I talked with the owner of the only non-"hole in tha' wall" club here in Savannah, GA. Since I'm your secure brotha, we discussed a number of security issues related to our folks having fun.
He hired an outside company, also Black-owned, to beef up his guards during the very wild St. Patrick's Day weekend. They wore black fatigue pants and berets. You know our people automatically react to what we perceive as strong arm tactics. The brother who owned the security company obviously chose a look that communicated strength and no nonsense. If this were a labor strike or a bad club or concert, I'd wholeheartedly agree with this "special forces" image.
However, at an establishment with a dress code that caters to the 25 and over professional crowd, this wasn't a good choice. The security company owner would have done better outfitting his men in polo shirts and slacks, or even in uniforms that were professional, not paramilitary, in appearance.
Securing Black events begins by knowing which type of Black person will be in attendance. Body armor, batons and helmets to work my mother's generation "Old School Jam" is a case of serious ovekill. Using timid or nearly ninety year old greeters (like you see at WalMart) is a bad move if the event in question is a gangsta rap concert. Knowing your audience goes a long way toward creating a successful occasion.
Black security professionals have an added duty not to mistreat our patrons in the manner that majority society often does. The extra respect and service provided will be returned tenfold. I've seen it work for years firsthand.
Our people WANT TO BE RESPECTED!! In the days of Slavery and JIM CROW I (we're living in Jim Crow II, but that's another story), we dressed up, looked like a million bucks and went to Black establishments and events that gave us the respect denied by majority society. This tradition must continue if our entertainment is to be a healthy community expression. Always treating Black patrons like convicts or giving us third-rate service is unacceptable.
Some Black security professionals swagger around our venues acting just like the old overseer from the plantation: So rude to his own people but so polite to others. The key to securing Black events is summed up in the popular phrase, "Much respect due."
After a day at the job being treated like an idiot, after being profiled by a police officer just itching to arrest you on a trumped up charge, after looking at bills, bills, bills, the last thing any of us needs is disrespect from someone who is supposed to protect us while we try to relax.
The essence of Black event security is helping soothe the anger and anxiety many of us carry from generation to generation like luggage. If our security professionals refuse to do this, can we really get angry when other people do the same?