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Black Men and Dogs: Don't Believe Vick

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Black Men and Dogs: Don't Believe Vick


Black Men and Dogs: Don't Believe Vick

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Suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick was indicted on state charges today. He and three others were charged with running a dog-fighting ring at Vick's Virginia home. Vick has already pleaded guilty to federal accounts.

In covering Michael Vick's legal issues, television news networks have plastered images of dog abuse and black men across the screen.

Well, commentator Kevin Blackistone wants to make sure people know that many African-American men, including himself, love their dogs.

Mr. KEVIN BLACKISTONE (Commentator): He was a Dandie Dinmont, we were told. Long with a short tight gray coat, a bushy white Fu Manchu on his snout and a white Afro on his head. He went by the name Harry, and was a favorite to win the Westminster dog show back in February. He was co-owned by America's favorite black father figure, Bill Cosby.

In the wake of the disgusting Michael Vick dog-fighting case, it was easy to think that black people, black men in particular, don't care much for man's best friend. The 53 pit bulls bred for fighting found on the NFL quarterback's Virginia property are facing euthanasia.

But at least 17 others weren't that lucky. Their remains have already been found. Some were electrocuted or drowned with Vick's help because they didn't fight ferociously enough.

Sheriff's deputies found three dog carcasses and several malnourished pit bulls on rapper DMX's Arizona property. Ving Rhames had to defend himself, his English bulldog and three bullmastiffs against charges the dogs killed a housekeeper while Rhames was out of town.

And then, Whoopi Goldberg, decided to publicize her arrival on The View by offering a cultural explanation for all of this. There is none.

There are historical relationships between black men and big vicious dogs. During the Civil Rights struggle black men often found themselves in the jaws of police dogs sicced on them by racist Southern white cops. In colonial Africa, police used German Shepherds to suppress the majority.

That certainly hasn't made us somehow predisposed to mistreating our mutts. We shouldn't be the new ugly face of animal cruelty. The two biggest recent busts on the dog-fighting front were of white men. One was described as the Al Capone of dog-fighting and lived in suburban New York. Earlier this month in Dublin, Ireland, the star of the Gaelic football league was exposed as a director of an illegal dog-fighting ring. He was not black Irish.

And how can we forget the most-heartwarming stories from the tragedy of Katrina? They were of dog owners, mostly the working-class poor in heavily black neighborhoods like the now famous Ninth Ward, who refused to evacuate without their four-legged loved ones - cats too.

Yes, we love our dogs. Most of us aren't like the fellow who called into a sports talk show I was on recently and dismissed Vick's creatures as, just dogs. Most black folks are like me - I'll do anything for my adopted Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, Mocha, and think the world of the SPCA and other animal welfare do-gooders.

I'm not necessarily a religious man, but I do believe in much of the wisdom from the good book, like Proverbs 12:10: A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Cruelty to animals is bound by no color; kindness isn't either.

BLOCK: Kevin Blackistone lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

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