May 22, 2011

Woman blocked for wearing moccasins

Native woman denied entry to club can proceed with human-rights complaint, tribunal rules

By Sunny DhillonAn aboriginal woman who says she was denied entry to a popular Vancouver club because of her ancestry and her moccasins can move forward with her human-rights complaint, a B.C. tribunal has ruled.

In March, 2009, Colleen Mitchell White tried to enter the Roxy, a landmark nightspot in the city’s Granville entertainment district. She was turned back because she was carrying a golf club. Ms. Mitchell White returned without the golf club a short time later, but says a Roxy doorman then told her, “We don’t serve people in moccasins.”

Ms. Mitchell White says she responded by telling the doorman her shoes were good enough for her ancestors, who walked and hunted in them. She claims the doorman told her to hunt outside because there weren’t any buffalo inside the Roxy.

The doorman removed Ms. Mitchell White from the premises, and she told the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that he punched her in the jaw, before calling her a prostitute.
Comment:  The nightclub denies the punch and prostitute comment, but admits the moccasin and buffalo comments.

I don't know if the offenses are serious enough for a human-rights complaint. But they are for a moralistic blog complaint.

It's hard to believe a nightclub would have an official moccasin policy. Or that it would object if patrons wore moccasins. Do people have to wear hard shoes rather than soft shoes? As long as they're not barefoot, does anyone really care?

The buffalo comment and the alleged prostitute comment sound like racism, obviously. With those in mind, the moccasin comment sounds suspiciously racist also. But the anti-moccasin policy shouldn't be hard to test. Have a white woman similar to this Native woman go to the club wearing slippers similar to moccasins. If she gets thrown out too, maybe the club isn't discriminating.

For more on racism against Indians, see Asian Indians Slurred as American Indians and Aboriginals to Be "Weaned from Government Teat."

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