This Beale Street cover charge, heard about it? Is it hidden racism playing peekaboo in Memphis? Ty Agee, the president of the Beale Street Merchants Association says no. He’s been quoted in a number of sources as saying that the cover charge is a response to safety concerns shared by several members of the association, but Beale Street business owners of a darker hue are throwing flags on the play.
I’ve visited Beale Street back in the day and I’ve enjoyed myself thoroughly without feeling unsafe and without paying a fee to peruse the historic road. It would appear that the ancient tactic of price barricades as a deterrent is making it’s way into every nook and cranny. The Ross Barnett Reservoir has adopted this measure as well in the wake of a handful of incidents involving rowdy teens.
Can we ping racism as the spur of this galloping horse? I think we can and here’s why.
First of all, these new fees are being implemented at a time when the majority of the site’s visitors will be African-American. This wasn’t done on accident.
Further more, it is a fact that because of Jackson’s and Memphis’ history of discrimination, black people in these areas are more economically disadvantaged than their white counterpart. Placing a tax and/or fee on sites like this only at specific times will deter people who leaders believe are the worst of the worst because they are undoubtedly the poorer group of people. And finally adding on to the fact that the black business owners of Beale St. were left out of the meeting should be all the proof in the pudding that you need.
Here’s the bottom line. It’s been proven that people will not stand for and tolerate outright racism and discrimination. People know that so they attempt to veil their intentions in vague and arbitrary actions. This is all that these fees are that Memphis and the Ross Barnett Reservoir are trying to implement. Just like those religious freedom acts are poorly disguised vehicles of discrimination, this is too. And until we wake up and stand again these assaults on our basic rights and intelligence then nothing will change. Believe it or not, this is good news. We are almost there folks.