"No justice, no booty!"
That was the rallying cry as a column of performers — many clad in face masks and not much else — took to the streets for a rally focusing on the struggles of workers of color at Portland strip clubs.
"Strippers are held to different standards based on race," said a local dancer named Niko. "Black strippers get fired more easily. People don't want to tip them. There are discriminatory hiring practices."
Niko added that some clubs only schedule Black performers to work during less-lucrative daytime shifts.
Niko and about 150 others gathered near the Eastbank Esplanade before marching on the sidewalk and one traffic lane of the Hawthorne Bridge around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 11. The activists then gathered in downtown Portland for speeches.
The movement, founded by Haymarket Pole and PDX Stripper Strike in November 2019, seeks to promote a culture of accountability at clubs, as well as to end all discriminatory hiring practices and promote equal shifts for Black and brown dancers.
Organizer Cat Hollis said she was engaging in talks with 30 clubs about scheduling cultural-sensitivity trainings for all workers — a significant percentage in a city long considered to have the most strip clubs per capita.
PDX Stripper Strike just took the Hawthorne Bridge: pic.twitter.com/Em35Wfp19R— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) July 11, 2020
"The clubs generally aren't unsafe or racist. I think a lot of it is implicit bias. But for the most part, the community needs a sanctuary," Hollis said.
Hollis said Spice, Kit Kat Club and Sassy's are all currently signed up for trainings, which will explain to staff how to recognize microaggressions, deescalate situations and dismantle racist policies.
The work is taking on new urgency, Hollis said, after the death of Dominique Dunn outside a local club Friday. A suspect has been arrested in the incident.
"There are clubs that haven't played rap in a decade that are playing rap now," Hollis said. "It's not just bartenders, not just bouncers — but the managers and staff are also really on board, because they see the value of these programs."
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