We’ve stated the ways in which restaurant dress codes are problematic. Really, it’s just one way: dress codes are often vague, thinly veiled justifications for racial discrimination. Black and brown people’s skin color and clothing are often mistaken for troublesome or criminal, a fact perhaps no one knows better than the parents of young, minority boys. So when Maryland father Ray Kabia saw a dress-code sign on a nearby Subway restaurant, he worried about his 9-year-old son.
The sign read: “Do not enter with mask or hoodie. If so you are now trespassing.” That Subway store owner, Brijesh Patel, tells WBAL-TV he put the sign up after his restaurant was recently robbed. But Kabia was concerned for his son, who like most kids, wears a lot of hoodies. He didn’t want his son’s perfectly normal apparel to be treated as criminal.
“I wouldn’t want to feel like I sent my son across the street to grab something to eat and he runs the risk of having police called on him. So that was my primary concern,” Kabia told WBAL-TV.
Bothered by the sign, Kabia took it upon himself to make a new dress-code sign for the Subway store, one that toned down the anti-hoodie language to read: “For security purposes, please remove sunglasses, hats, hoods, and masks prior to entry.” In smaller letters, it reads: “Failure to do so may result in the police being notified.”
Then, dear readers, something amazing happened. Kabia and Patel actually sat down and talked about it. Rationally. Politely. In 2018. (Presumably, the heavens opened and winged cherubs serenaded them with lutes.)
Patel liked Kabia’s sign, and replaced the one previously in his window with it.
“Sometimes, we see things offensive to us, but rather than have the dialogue around it, people end up making judgments,” Kabia said, in what is surely the most heartening, rational statement on racial discussions I’ve heard in months.