Racism is NOT equivalent to being anti-pit bull

Stop using the term ‘racist’ when you don’t know what it means

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Feb 11 · 5 min read
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Photo credit: JRMartins/Pixabay

Racism: A belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This is what Merriam Webster defines as “racism.” Somehow no matter how many times history continues to prove what is racism and what is not, there’s a segment of the population — 99.9 percent of which are people who have never experienced racism but believe Blue Lives Matter only when it’s not a Capitol Riot, or participate in Black Lives Matter rallies solely because it’s a trendy hashtag— who continuously use the term “racism” incorrectly.

One of the most ridiculous examples I’ve heard this week was from a woman who was signing up for an online dating site and declared the site “a trash fire of racism and bsl” because pit bulls were not listed as a pet breed option. Never mind that it could have been an oversight. She went straight to “trash fire of racism and bsl.” As soon as I saw the message, the first thing I did was look up the person who typed it. I already knew what she looked like, but I wanted to be surprised. I was not.

Pit bull owners, stop saying people are “racist” for not being fans of your dogs. While dogs can develop aggressive tendencies toward human beings, they are also trained by human beings. Puppies (nor children) are born ready to hate someone based on skin color, economics, culture, etc. That is a learned trait from adult human beings.

Not all pit bulls are mean …

I understand the frustration with a pit bull’s reputation. I wrote about former dog fighters of pit bulls who became pit bull trainers. One of the friendliest dogs I’ve ever walked was a pit bull who leaped out of her crate into the air and licked me right on the mouth. (I wanted to yell out “dog germs” like Lucy Van Pelt, but this dog seemed pretty smitten with me. It was hard not to smile.) On my way back from the walk, I met the owner, a gray-haired senior white lady who cooed at this pit bull like it was a fluffy bunny.

Recommended Read: “Is your dog racist, or is it really you? ~ What should a dog owner do when a dog expresses a racial preference?

… but no dog of any breed, including pit bulls, is human

You can call your dog a “fur baby” all you want. That dog is not a human being nor does it have a “race.” Breed? Yes. Race? No. You can put as many moronic clothes on it as you want to. (S)he is not a human being. (S)he is not your human baby. (S)he does not speak one of the 7,117 languages, although your dog may be able to understand a few commands.

While pit bulls by far exceed the number of fatal attacks on human beings — even more than German Shepherds, which have a touchy history with African-Americans due to police dog training — I get it. I understand the frustration. When a neighbor moved in with a pit bull next to my parents’ home, my German Shepherd and that pit bull went at it daily. It got to the point where I would not go through a certain gate.

That pit bull would quietly hide in a corner and wait for me to appear to growl and bark like Cujo (played by St. Bernards in Stephen King movies). And my German Shepherd wanted every millisecond of smoke that that pit bull threw back at it. The only thing more tense with one aggressive dog breed is another dog breed who can match that energy. I never ever wanted to find out, but the way my own dog paced back and forth by the gate made me always check to make sure that dog was never loose when we took walks. There’s no way I could’ve separated them. She really hated that pit.

Recommended Read: “Want to combat your prejudices? Expose yourself to ‘others’ ~ The German Shepherd question that explains my take on racism

Still though, when people froze around my German Shepherd and walked across the street, I usually chuckled (minus one time). I was fully aware I was walking a four-legged, pawed, tail-having dog who is not known to be all fluffy and carefree. She was a dog who was all muscle and protective. But my four-legged homegirl was a girl dog, not a human girl. Meanwhile some of you are really convinced that dogs are either equivalent to POC human beings or outrank them (unless Michael Vick comes up). As a black woman who prefers dogs more than people, you all are annoying. You all are making it so that pet lovers, specifically African-American dog owners, have to constantly defend ourselves and explain that we are not delusional enough to believe that K9s and human beings are equivalent.

Some of you have gone so far off the rails with this “fur baby” belief that you’re now trying to act like your dog has a history of the Middle Passage, xenophobia, antisemitism and had a blanket through the Trail of Tears. Your dog may have been through some things. You may run into dog breed snobbery. You may even live in a state that bans pit bulls. But I don’t care how trendy or woke you believe you are after attending one Black Lives Matter rally and pointing out your one black friend in the crowd. If you have never experienced racism from actual human beings — as in the financial and social belief that one race is superior to another — pause and reconsider calling anything “racist.”

Recommended Read: “Stop using the term ‘racist’ unless you’re sure it is ~ Empty accusations on race can make you lose all credibility

Black folks and people of color (POCs) have a tough enough time proving when racist moments actually happen. The last thing we need is for you to stand on this privileged soapbox and decide your pit bull on an online dating site compares with the experiences we have on an everyday basis. Calm down. Consider the alternatives. If you find yourself in an anti-pit bull environment, and before you go crying on social media with false accusations about it, consider contacting Customer Service for that online dating site (or neighborhood watch or dog park or doggy day care or anywhere else) to verify whether it’s really dog breed snobbery. And then refrain from calling your one POC friend to complain about your woes with racism by association. She doesn’t want to hear this diatribe either.

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Shamontiel is a dog lover to her core: 480 completed walks with 80 dogs, eight dog-housesittings and six dog boardings at the time of this publication. Would you like to receive Shamontiel’s Weekly Newsletter via MailChimp? Sign up today!

Doggone World

For dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

Doggone World

Let’s discuss all bark-related, (mostly) feel-good content for dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

Doggone World

Let’s discuss all bark-related, (mostly) feel-good content for dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

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