East Lansing bowling alley accused of racial profiling with ‘offensive’ dress code

The dress code banning ‘gang colors and insignias’ has been taken down for further ‘evaluation’

Spare Time Entertainment Center, a bowling alley in Lansing, recently adopted what patrons and residents are saying is a racially prejudiced and "offensive" dress code that is meant to exclude people of color.

The new dress code bans "excessively baggy pants," "hoodies and do rags" and even "gang colors and insignias." This language is generally used to single out to people of color, and many can't help but wonder if this was intentional.

Spare Time's patrons took to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their disappointment in the local establishment.

Some former customers expressed their views on Spare Time's Facebook page in the form of a bad review:

My BLACK family of hoodie and doo rag wearing folks have gone to Spare Time for years! We used the Kids Bowl Free…

Posted by Claretta Duckett-Freeman on Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Tab spoke with Claretta Duckett-Freeman, who left a review stating her family will "no longer patronize Spare Time until a public apology is made."

Claretta said she and her family have been patrons of Spare Time for six years. When the new dress code sign was put up, Claretta approached the manager directly to voice her complaints.

"I told her it seemed like the only families she wanted to keep safe don't look like my family," Claretta said.

According to Claretta, the manager told her that the new dress code was recommended by the police in order to keep families safe.

"I asked her, 'How does clothing deter criminals who are intent on breaking the law? A dress code only affects those who are already following the law.' She was mostly silent. I told her the police is known for racial profiling and that she was learning how to racially profile from the best."

Claretta said the manager's main argument defending the dress code was that "Black people are not the only ones who wear those items of clothing."

"I let her know that the comments posted on her Facebook page show that racist people now think Spare Time is a place for them and not for me," Claretta said. "She told me my family was always welcome and I told her the problem is we are no longer safe."

Claretta said that when she observed the way in which the manager had responded to some of the complaints posted on Spare Time's Facebook page, she "knew she was racist."

"If someone told me I had offended their culture or was targeting a group of people, my first reaction would be to examine what I did and ask for advice," Claretta said. "Her first inclination was to defend her actions and tell the woman she could patron another place.

"I and other people watched that interaction and as someone who has felt racism often, I know what racism looks like, but I still gave her a chance by speaking personally with her," Claretta said. "My feelings were hurt because once again I politely engaged a racist individual.”

"I ended the call saying, 'I do not wish you well because you do not care about my family or people who look like us and our safety'," Claretta said.

Spare Time eventually released a rather dismissive apology to their Facebook page, stating that they have removed the dress code sign while they "evaluate."

Over the past 12 hours, we have had numerous comments regarding our dress code policy. The dress code signage in…

Posted by Spare Time Entertainment Center on Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spare Time Entertainment management has not yet responded to our request for comment. Follow this story for updates.

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