Reminders of injustice

Being black and female in Sacramento’s social scene

Kula Koenig is a Sacramento nonprofit director with experience in community organizing.

Kula Koenig is a Sacramento nonprofit director with experience in community organizing.

Here’s what I—a cisgender, able-bodied black woman—was reminded of while partying the Friday after Thanksgiving at Mango’s nightclub in Sacramento:

Reminder #1: Don’t you dare bring up gender-neutral bathrooms!

I go to the women’s restroom, and of course there’s a line. Nature was ringing hard so I darted into the men’s restroom (which per usual had no line) and did my business in an unoccupied stall.

As I came out, a male and female bouncer hastily approached me. The male bouncer issued a warning and said I was not allowed to go into the men’s restroom, for my protection. As they walked me back to my VIP booth, he continued on about how it was only “fair” and “equal” for me to wait in line.

As someone who works for equity and social justice, I began to talk to the bouncer about how having gender-neutral restrooms would be equal and how having more stalls in the women’s restrooms would be more equitable.

The female bouncer apparently didn’t like that and said I had to leave the club. I was summarily ordered out of the side door and not allowed to retrieve my belongings or alert my friends.

Reminder #2: The most disrespected person in America is the black woman

Unbeknownst to me, while I was outside, the same female bouncer told my friend, another black woman, that she, too, had to leave the club after an incident where my friend was pushed by another club patron. Instead of the bouncer investigating what happened, there was an assumption that my friend was somehow at fault.

I contacted the promoter with whom I booked the VIP table and was told the owner would call me and my friend regarding the incident. The owner spoke with my friend’s husband, who happens to be white, and was very apologetic and deferential. I did not have that experience.

Reminder #3: Misogyny is real

When the owner called me, it was evident by his behavior that he had already formed an opinion. He did not let me speak and told me I should be grateful that I received a refund. (It’s not about money!)

He said that gender-neutral restrooms were impractical and that “nobody does that except gay clubs.”

After toggling between asking me to come back to the club and saying that I should be grateful for his refund, he began to talk about how this was “not a race thing” and that he, too, grew up in the projects. (Because if you didn’t know, all black people grew up in the projects—side eye).

End of conversation.

Reminder #4: Mango’s messed with the right black woman

A few things come to mind as I reflect: Why is it OK for women to stand in long lines in clubs while men get to go in and out. It’s 2020!

What about our transgender brothers and sisters? Which restroom should they be allowed to enter without having a bouncer ask them to leave?

When will clubs address the hyper-vigilance on black patrons? When will they learn how to deescalate situations?

And where can grown black folks go in Sacramento to dance and have a good two-stepping time?

Interested in investing in such a club/lounge in Sacramento, where men gotta wait in line if women do? Send an email to:

Editor’s note: Mango’s owner Joe Gomez was given an opportunity to provide a statement about gender-neutral restrooms, but declined.