The CIAA is known for its legendary basketball traditions. NBA champions such as Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe (Winston-Salem), Bobby Dandridge (Norfolk State), Rick Mahorn (Hampton), and Ben Wallace (Virginia Union) are just a few of the great players who have displayed their talents in the CIAA tourney.
The CIAA is also known for its legendary parties, Mr. CIAA’s latest fashions, fraternity and sorority events, and even more parties. There is no question the Queen City will be rocking this weekend. I hope the party goers will steer clear of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Last year, at the 2015 CIAA tournament, the hotel chain got busted for charging a 15 percent ‘CIAA surcharge’ to patrons at its restaurant.
Although several major sporting events come to Charlotte, the NCAA Division II CIAA was the only event the hotel instituted a surcharge for. Some called it the ‘Black Tax’.
Indeed, The Ritz-Carlton’s actions can only be interpreted as racism, practiced subtly. Of all the other big events that come to town, the National Football League, National Basketball Association, NASCAR, PGA Tour and Division I college events that come to town, the CIAA tournament was the only entity to get a surcharge.
“Due to the size of the CIAA event, we instituted a modest 15% service charge for our lobby beverage servers, on whom the event places significant demands throughout the weekend,” the hotel told a local Charlotte television station.
Damn, I never knew the CIAA was bigger than the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and the PGA Tour. The only difference between those organizations and the CIAA, besides their mega-budgets and world wide following, is the CIAA is a historically black conference.
So, the ‘size of the CIAA event’ explanation, the Ritz-Carlton was offering is simply garbage.
What that surcharge says to me is that the Ritz decided they were going to charge black folks an extra 15 percent “just to be up in here.”
I mean, really. How outrageous could such an actions be? All they are really saying is we don’t want you to come here. However, since we can’t stop you from coming here, so we are going to at least make your black asses pay a little more.
This is how they treat people who bring an estimated $55 million into their city’s economy for the week?
Those credited for bringing this story to light are the CIAA fans, who saw the charge, knew it was wrong, and pushed back. There were many complaints, and when complaints reached the office of the North Carolina attorney general, the Ritz had to explain itself. They issued an apology, refunded the ‘surcharges’ to customers, and made a $75,000.00 contribution to the CIAA.
“We would like to apologize to any guests we may have offended by the addition of a service charge we implemented at a recent event in our lobby lounge,” a hotel statement
“The service charge was not intended to single out any particular group or organization and we deeply regret any misunderstanding this may have caused. It is important for all guests to feel welcomed at our hotel and for them to receive the highest level of service, respect and hospitality we strive for every day.”
Apology, accepted, and thanks for the $75 grand.
Nonetheless, if I am in Charlotte looking for a place to dine, I will skip the Ritz, and head over to Lola’s, for some iconic southern soul food. I am going to spend my money where I know I am welcomed.