The Turkey Leg Hut dress code isn’t worth your hassle, but the black hair cap ban is

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In a world marked by protests for social justice and equality, the new dress code in the Turkey Leg Hut in Third Ward seems like the most benevolent reason for a social media battle.

Some adult people just don’t like the dress code.

Because of this, Turkey Leg Hut’s new policy struck a nerve at the popular restaurant that serves around 30,000 diners a week while it sparked praise from others. It also made national news.

Most days, customers wait in long lines for the decadent smoked turkey legs and the restaurant’s plentiful side dishes, as well as alcoholic beverages. It’s become a laid-back place where guests often stay hours after dinner and celebrities – like rappers 50 Cent or NFL star DeAndre Hopkins – are known. The dress is casual and no dress code was required prior to the pandemic, said Nakia Price, who co-founded the restaurant with husband Lynn Price.

Dress code dispute: “We’re not a club”: Houston’s Turkey Leg Hut has “anti-black” criticism of the dress code

Candace Stewart performs a cheer of “Get the shot!” try to encourage her friend to get vaccinated while he waits in line at the Turkey Leg Hut in Houston on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

Then, as the city reopened, some of the restaurant’s clientele arrived in scantily clad clothes, she said. They wore clothes with exposed bums and nipples, swimwear, and dresses with hems so short that they exposed their undergarments and, in some cases, likely none at all. The new dress code restricts excessively revealing or baggy clothing, exposed underwear, swimwear, or house clothes such as slippers, shower caps and rags, Price said.

“We never regulated what people wore before, but now it’s getting worse,” Price said. “What we see is the extreme, like shorts that are so short your bum is literally hanging out, or tattered shorts with no underwear. When did it become okay to just wear this in public, let alone in a restaurant? The dress code we implemented is pretty loose. The only thing we ask is that you have some respect. “

Price said she had received complaints from customers about the clothes.

Critics have called the dress code on Twitter and Instagram “anti-black” and cried. They say the restaurant, with its loud DJ music and hooka, promoted a club atmosphere and dress.

Social media memes made fun of the new rules, suggesting that church attire is now required. It is important to mention that the prices are black.

“What we have created is an environment that feels like you are having a good time with your family and friends over a barbecue in the garden. In everything, people take it and turn it into what they want. It is not our intention to alienate anyone. How can we be against black when we are a black owned company? Our intention is to put some guidelines in place of what we want for our business. “

In the dress code landscape, the Turkey Leg Hut rules seem harmless, although dress codes have been used in the past to discriminate against groups of people in restaurants, hotels, schools, and other establishments.

That brings me to the Olympics, it’s no exception.

Recently, ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the International Swimming Federation banned larger swimming caps for black swimmers with thick, natural, voluminous hair. It specifically targeted British brand Soul Cap, owned by Black, citing that their caps do not “fit the natural shape of the head” and that no athlete needs “caps that size”.

After criticism, the association decided to reconsider its decision. But the damage was done.

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View of the outdoor seating area of ​​Turkey Leg Hut, a restaurant in the third district on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Houston.

View of the outdoor seating area of ​​Turkey Leg Hut, a restaurant in the third district on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Houston.

Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The ban is aimed directly at black hair and discriminates against black swimmers. Obviously, the bandage has no idea about black hair, which naturally grows outward in delightful coils, curls, and kinks, and is often not found in swim caps for straight hair.

The founders of Soul Cap said in a statement: “We did a lot of research into the approval process and carefully looked at all the criteria and requirements. Our cap has the same shape as standard swim caps. It’s just bigger to hold long, voluminous, or textured hair. “

These larger swim caps do not offer any competitive advantage either.

The company has teamed up with marathon swimmer Alice Dearing, the first black swimmer to represent Britain at the Games. Houston’s own Olympic gold medal swimmer Simone Manuel, who spoke about the lack of diversity in the sport, is also enthusiastic about this topic. Manuel declined to comment while preparing for the Olympics.

If the Soul Cap product, which is available in four sizes and was developed for afros, curls, weaves, extensions, braids and other natural hairstyles, had existed as a young swimmer, maybe I would have enjoyed the sport more. But every black girl who learns to swim fast understands that chlorine and other pool chemicals are the devil to our natural hair, making it drier, more fragile, and more prone to breakage than other hair types. So instead of falling in love with swimming, we’re scared of our hair. Because of this, many black women don’t swim.

Malene Dixon, an avid swimmer and senior advisor at KIPP Sunnyside High School, also wished she had this opportunity when she was young. After learning of the Olympic ban, she tried buying Soul Caps online and found they were sold out.

“It seems like every time we show any kind of success in something, that force tries to hold us back. So we finally have more Black women engaged in competitive swimming and they will find a way to keep them away from it. I wasn’t surprised, just disappointed, ”she said.

“I am so glad that we now have these options. My daughter has pigtails so she couldn’t get a normal swimming cap over her head if she tried. “

Dixon and her 17-year-old son will be competing in a triathlon that includes a lake swim in Cypress later this month.

Dress rules are certainly important and can represent a basic belief in a dream. You have the ability to create the space we want, like a backyard barbecue on a hot summer night in the Turkey Leg Hut.

Other rules can alienate a person’s Olympic dream and possibly even shut the door.

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