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Progress Bar owner solicits community feedback after controversial email
by Matt Simonette

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The owner of Progress Bar said in a May 31 statement that he's asking for community input after an email banning rap music went viral and was called out for racist connotations.

That email instructed Progress Bar's DJs not to play rap music anymore, and said that extra security would be in place to help address any difficulties arising from the ban. The email was widely disseminated May 29 and caused friction with several of Progress Bar's customers, may of whom had said the establishment had previously been welcoming to persons of color.

Progress Bar has said that it will not ban rap music, and apologized for the email May 30. But AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Pride Action Tank have cancelled an event at the bar, and a protest is still scheduled outside the establishment on June 2.

In a May 31 statement sent to Windy City Times, owner Justin Romme said, "Progress Bar will reopen tonight, and there will not be a ban on rap or any other music genres. "I know it will take much more than this to regain the trust of the LGBTQ+ community. It will require an ongoing commitment and actions. I have reached out to trusted organizations and leaders in the Chicago LGBTQ+ community and will work with them in the coming days on steps we need to take. We also want to hear feedback from our patrons, neighbors and everyone in the LGBTQ+ community on how to build a more inclusive bar, and we will provide updates on these efforts."

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