Justice Department To Kung Fu Saloon: Yeah, You Guys Totally Were Being Racist!

Last year, you no doubt recall, the Dallas location of the statewide arcade-themed bar concept Kung Fu Saloon found itself in a world of public relations trouble when its Dallas location refused entrance to one DeAndre Upshaw.

Upshaw, a black man, believed the denial to be due to the color of his skin; the door staff claimed his sneakers, and the fact that they weren’t up to dress code standards, were to blame — y’know, even though Upshaw presented evidence showing that his white friend had been granted admittance while wearing similar shoes. Upshaw’s argument had merit, too: His was neither the first charge of racism against Kung Fu’s Dallas location nor its Austin or Houston ones. His argument also had some real passion to it: There were social media campaigns against Kung Fu, there were rallies and there formally filed grievances.

And though there had been small wins for Upshaw’s #NoKungFu campaign along the way — last year, the city offered local bars and restaurants free anti-discrimination training and, this year, the city fined Kung Fu’s ownership for its actions — a complaint formally filed yesterday by U.S. attorneys in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division as part of a settlement with Kung Fu’s owner’s represents a major victory.

Long story short: The Justice Department agrees with Upshaw’s claims that Kung Fu’s actions were racist. In turn, some further sanctions have been levied upon the bar.

Notably, the bar’s being subjected to some public shaming. It has 15 days to “erect and maintain at each public entrance to the Austin. Houston and Dallas locations of Kung Fu Saloon a printed sign stating that the establishment is open to all members of the public without regard to race, color or national origin.” A similar note must also be present on Kung Fu’s website and on all TV, newspaper or non-social Internet advertising.

There are other stipulations — more training, a more clearly stated dress code, more work with the Justice Department to ensure that these sort of things don’t happen at Kung Fu again — but the point is pretty clear.

Kung Fu, despite its claims to the contrary, was in the wrong. And the big, bad U.S. government is making sure they know so. Which is pretty, pretty awesome.

Still doesn’t mean Kung Fu is due your unfettered support, though. They’re doing OK as is, after all.

Read the Dallas Morning News-obtained court filing in full here.

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