ESPN, which has done a better job of reporting on the Vick case than 90% of the media outlets out there, have a very good article on their site this week from former KC Star Writer Wright Thompson on the history of racial relations in Atlanta...and how the Mike Vick saga fits into this history of race relations.
I'm not going to sit here and support Mike Vick. I feel pretty confident that dog fighting happened on property Vick owned. And I'm not going to give a sermon about racism. I'm hardly qualified to do that. This is a dog blog after all. But it's been pretty amazing to me that in a single marrow subject of dog ownership in America, how often race plays a role in what I write.
I think about the Ohio Supreme Court when they say that pit bull bans are constitutional and a supporting proof point is that many of these dogs live in "urban" areas -- does "urban" mean densly populated or does it mean Black? What about all of the "only drug dealers own pit bulls" comments? Does anyone seriously think that a dog ordinance will curb drug dealing or do they think its another way to harrass a certain segment of the population? Or think about when a local mayor says that the city should consider a ban on certain breeds of dogs, not because the bullies that live in his city are a problem now, but he wants to prevent more of "the types of people who own these types of dogs" from moving to town. Exactly who he is wanting to keep out?
While it may seem crazy at first that people stand fast in their support of Vick, it's hard to be critical until you've walked a proverbial mile in their shoes. I remember that most people think I'm crazy too each time I speak in support of 'pit bulls'.
And if Vick is really found guilty of what he's accused of doing, he let a lot of people down in Atlanta, that felt like they were making progress.
I guess what I'm saying is be careful when casting judgment. If I asked you, what is the first image that pops into your head when you think about your average pit bull owner? How about your average Yorkie owner?
And if you think that maybe race, or at least general prejudice, is a factor with the "pit bull issue" or Michael Vick -- maybe there are other areas we haven't considered?