The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Owner of Rick’s Cafe responds to race allegations

Last week, local African Americans in Starkville accused Rick’s Café of Starkville of racial discrimination after realizing they were blocked from Rick’s social media accounts, following an incident at the cafe on Oct. 10.

Established in 1994, Rick’s Cafe American is a bar and cafe that plays modern day hits. Ricks is the only café and bar to play all genres of music and is most famous for its popular “Dollar Night” where customers can have as many drinks for one dollar each on Saturday nights.

Owner of Rick’s Café, Rick Welch, native of Meridian and Alumni of MSU, admitted to blocking people, stating he only blocked people who were bragging via social media and retweeting about rushing the door to the cafe that night.

Welch said around 11 p.m. on Oct. 10, Fire Marshall Mike McCurdy warned him the crowd at Rick’s would soon exceed the limit of 700 patrons at one time and told Welch he should remedy the situation.

Welch said his staff was unable to contain the crowd and over 200 people rushed into the establishment. In the process, he said several tables, chairs and the fence had been damaged. The police were eventually called.

“I will admit I did block some people on Twitter every time I saw a negative comment and the people that retweeted it and liked it,” he said. “It was roughly 200 people that were in total on the block list. There were not only blacks, but whites, middle westerns, Mexicans, all of any kind of race was on the block list.”

Many African Americans posted on various forms of social media saying they have been blocked from Rick’s Twitter account, keeping them from viewing tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts.

In light of the social media uproar,famous rapper Waka Flocka Flame who is scheduled to perform on Nov. 23 tweeted to Rick’s asking them to explain, after dozens of African American students and citizens tweeted the hash tag #DiscriminationLivesHere towards @Ricksstarkville.

Welch said when Waka Flocka tweeted him, he immediately called Flocka’s manager.

“I told his manager what happened, because I can’t do it in a tweet and he said hold on and called me back saying, ‘Rick everything is fine, he (Flocka) understands. He suggested you unblock everyone.’ I told him it would look bad, like I got caught and now I’m trying to fix it.”

Welch said Flocka’s manager advised him to just move forward and take the heat.

Though it was speculated the rapper might refuse to perform, those rumors are false and Waka Flocka will perform as scheduled.

Senior, fashion merchandising major, Karissa Logan, said she was displeased as she learned of the allegations.  In attempt to make her voice be heard, Logan said she took to social media where she voiced her opinion on the situation. She also said she wrote a letter to Flocka’s management, informing them of what was going on.

According to Logan, Welch reached out to her in an attempt to explain what was happening.

Logan shared some of her experiences from attending Rick’s Cafe where she felt discriminated.

“I noticed the dress code on the door and it said no chain, no baggy clothes, no doo-rags and no hats turned to the side,” Logan said.

Welch said the dress code was suggested by his security company.

“My security company suggested the dress code and for years I declined the idea. It has been taken down and there is no longer a dress code at Ricks.”

Cale Pinion, senior public relations major, said he was appalled when he heard about the discussion and never had a problem with Rick’s.

“I think Rick’s is a very diverse bar, they go from Cherub to Josh Abbott Band to Snoop Dog and the list goes on,” Pinion said. “It caught on very fast. I felt there was more to this story than social media and I still plan on going there.”

According to Welch, some of his employees have his Twitter password, but ultimately he is responsible.

“Ultimately it is my responsibility because it is my account. I gave out my password and all I can do is apologize to those who are hurt by this.”

Welch has unblocked everyone who was ever on the block list. He stated he has had a Twitter account since Twitter was first introduced. He said he has questioned his employees on whether they ever blocked anyone according to race, and they denied it.

Welch said he tried to individually reach out to members who felt discriminated against.

Wilburn Smith, president of the NAACP at MSU said he was upset at these allegations against Rick’s.

“I’ve been supporting Rick’s for two years. I think Rick’s is a nice establishment to visit on the weekend with my friends, but the dress code is a bit too much and being discriminatory to a specific race is unacceptable,” Smith said.

Ashley Williams, senior kinesiology major, said she has attended Rick’s since her freshman year.

“It’s usually a good time, sometimes they are not prepared for the huge crowds dollar night brings on certain weekends,” Williams said.

MSU graduate Michael Boler said he thinks Rick’s is worth the money.

“No I don’t feel they’ve ever discriminated against anybody. They always have a diverse crowd when I’m there and seem to get music that will appeal to all people,” Boler said. “One week they may have a country band, but the next week they would have a rapper or rock band. I love ricks. They’re a little cheaper than other bars and the cover helps keep trashy people people who start fights in the district and at cowbells away. If I have to pay $10 to enter, you better believe I’m getting my money’s worth. I do plan on still attending.”

Waka Flocka Flame’s management was unavailable for comment.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Owner of Rick’s Cafe responds to race allegations