Plush faces racism allegations

On Friday of 6th week, black student Khomosto Moshikaro was refused service at The Plush Lounge by the bar staff. Moshikaro claimed that the denial of service was racially motivated.

Kameel Premhid, Moshikaro’s friend who was with him on the night in question, recounted the events in an affidavit he sent to the nightclub, complaining about his friend’s treatment by bar staff, stating, “I attempted to buy drinks for my friend Khomotso Moshikaro and myself. Upon receiving my drinks order, [the staff member serving me] proceeded to inform me that I was able to order drinks [for myself] but no longer able to order drinks for my friend. The justification offered by said staff member… was that my friend was ‘too drunk’ and did not need any more alcohol. After said bar staff member made such pronouncement as to the state of sobriety of my friend, she proceeded to serve me subsequent rounds of drinks with little or no regard to my state of being.

“At no [other] point was any concern raised directly and/ or indirectly about the state of sobriety of myself or my friend. In fact, no issue was made as to our continued presence at Plush other than when the bar was approached. In the absence of any concern being raised, I would like to know upon what basis – if any – any judgment was made with respect to the sobriety of my friend.”

The Plush Lounge issued a statement in response to the alleged racial discrimination, stating, “Plush Oxford is owned and operated by members of a minority community with an equally diverse workforce. Our aim is to provide a safe and inclusive environment regardless of sexual orientation, age, gender, race or colour of skin. The suggestion that institutional racism exists within our organisation is strongly denied and upsetting.

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“As an experienced and responsible licensed retailer of alcohol, we take very seriously our obligations in respect of the sale of products to members of the public deemed to be intoxicated. The law places requirements on both the premises management and serving staff, both of which could face criminal proceedings for failing to observe the law. We will not comment on specific situations, but can confirm that a recent matter has been brought to our attention and we are now in dialogue with the individual concerned regarding this matter.”

Premhid responded, “How does Plush refute claims that its staff exercise, whether directly or indirectly, racially discriminatory policies against those discernibly identifiable as black given the unjustified discrepancy in treatment by its own bar staff of non-black and black patrons on two different occasions?

“Oxford is by and large a liberal, progressive, and tolerant place. We would be fooling ourselves to think, however, that all forms of prejudice have been eradicated, even in places we would otherwise be happy to consider to be safe.”

Marc Shi, an Oxford student, commented to Cherwell, “While I see that this is just an allegation, it unfortunately wouldn’t surprise me at all if this turned out to be true, and also wouldn’t surprise me if the club continues to deny that anything ‘racist’ was happening.

“I think living in a society in which racism and colonialism are entrenched in almost every system and social interaction means that along with coming out in obvious, violent ways, it also comes out in these subtle, easy-to-miss ways.”