Inside the past, present and future of this country’s most inconvenient truth, by way of the most controversial black man in America.
By Rembert Browne
September 12, 2017
Any given weekend, being allowed to enter the Vintage Lounge seems highly probable, so long as you are 21 years of age and follow the rules of the sign on the door: no ball caps and no beanies, no loose-fitting T-shirts or oversized T-shirts, no baggy pants or baggy shorts, and no saggy pants and no saggy shorts and no sleeveless shirts and no biker vests and no sportswear. The Vintage Lounge is not open on Sundays.
Staring at the poster in the street-facing window here, wondering which clothes are left to wear, I move my hand from up near my heart down into my shorts pocket, grasping for Tanya’s business card. Yes, just three hours ago I ate cheese grits in a West Oakland breakfast haunt called Brown Sugar Kitchen, and yes, the cooks were brown and the servers were brown, and yes, “Harvest For The World” by The Isley Brothers was stuck in my head, and yes, the owner was a black woman named Tanya who had given me a hug because my friend Ryan is her friend Ryan, and yes, the restaurant was on a parkway named after Nelson Mandela—yes, this had all just happened, just this morning, I was sure of it. But grasping reality doesn’t make it any easier to see this sign of the times, during this very moment. In the summer of 2017, following the 2016 that so many endured, to be surprised by discrimination masquerading as the rules of the game, as tradition, is to be harmfully naive.