Pitbulls, Racists and “Just Knowing”

This woke me up this morning and has been swirling around my head angering me all day so I figures perhaps if I wrote it out in a blog post, I could get it out of my system and move on.

My husband and I have known since we first moved into the condo complex where we live almost two years ago that we were Black, and that made us stand out a bit. There have always been small things here and there that seemed to only be a problem when WE did it. Us having a second car parked in the parking lot without moving for a long time caused angry letters to the condo association, while people who don’t even live in the condo park in our lot everyday and hop on the train to work with no repercussions. There have always been little things that others thought must be brought up with the condo association.... never spoken about to us.... and we’d receive a letter explaining what our latest offense was. I’ll be honest, the bottom line in all of it to me, is that we were living while Black in a white condo.

The latest “offense” is us getting a dog, but not just any dog, a pit-bull. Her name is Sunny and she is sweet as can be, but the big scary couple with the pit-bull has already been reported to the condo association before Sunny has even been with us for a week. Apparently complaints were made about the 4 year old pit-bull in the complex (although Sunny is only 1.5 years old). We’ve also heard the ‘neighborly’ “You know we clean up after our dogs here, right?” as if a normal human being wouldn’t think to pick up their dog’s poop.

Regarding the ordeal my husband aptly tweeted: Pit Bulls are helpless victims when Mike Vick is fighting them, but vicious dogs when you're walking them around racist white people.#gotit

“But LaNeshe, how do you know these reports were based on your race?” The answer is, you just know. You can tell when you aren’t welcomed, and can deduce what the reason is for ill hospitality. I really thought moving to the suburbs from South Philly would find us in a warm neighborhood of warm, neighborly and happy people.... Didn’t happen. But that’s o.k. We are moving in the middle of June to a new house, OUR HOUSE that we’ve bought, with neighbors we’ve met who have already offered my husband a spot in their “beer drinking and marshmallow roasting sheds.”

This whole ordeal reminds me of my last most memorable racist encounter:

June 14th, 2008. Today at 8:09 a.m. Tim and I were waiting in a parking lot on Ellsworth and Federal for our Philly Car Share car. A woman, a white woman, was walking her dog, picking her car up from the parking lot. After staring at us the whole way into the lot she asked “What are you doing here?” The fear and hate in her face, and the tone of her voice was as if she expected the answer to be “stealing a car,” “robbing you,” or “selling drugs.” All we were doing was sitting in the parking lot waiting for our car. What gave her the right, and what prompted her to question our being there, four blocks from our house? I am 99% sure that if we had not been a Black couple she would have proceeded on with her day, with no questions asked. Tim said we did a service to Black people by answering her questions politely and not being rude in a situation where we were obviously being treated unfairly. I hope that that is true, I hope the next time she won’t find a Black couple sitting and talking in a parking lot to be suspicious.

I am fortunate enough to be in a place in life for the most part where I don’t encounter too many racist individuals (aside from the Internet) so when I find myself in situations where I know I am being judged on the basis of my skin color, it stings, a lot.

This is Sunny Buckets, she'll lick you to death, but that's about all :-)


  1. Re: your last encounter - Wow! You're a whole lot nicer than I am. I usually answer back "Excuse me, who are you? No, seriously. Who are you?" :)

    At least you'll be at peace in your new home. Good luck!

  2. Being treated unfairly would make my blood boil so badly that it would be difficult to react with the grace I'm sure you and your husband have both shown. I really feel black people get the worst of the racism (in this country). Though most don't consider me black (though I do have black heritage) when I see racism toward other blacks it makes me so mad I could spit nails. I believe we should channel Jesus in situations like this, but WOW ITS HARD.

    I'm so sorry your neighbors have made you feel so unwelcome in your own home. I hope you and your new doggie enjoy living in your new house. You deserve a place where you can find some respite from the hostilities of the world. HUGS and I hope your afternoon is better than your morning.

  3. @Kandeezie - Thanks you!
    @Lucy - it definitely gets my blood boiling. It's so frustrating, because as a person of color, or really any person, you can find yourself being unfairly judged based on appearance, with nothing you can do about it. Thank you, looking forward to a better afternoon :-)

  4. some people are just miserable with their lives and you cant do nothing about that. i have endured racially motivated side comments for years from family, aquaintances, co-workers and other "white" people many who are fully aware that I have multi-racial children....but i guess because I fit their stereo-typical "white" look they feel it's ok to say these things to me. I never tire of correcting their ignorance as it is something I feel strongly about. Do I impact everyone? I doubt it, but I have hope that many of them them will think twice and not make an offhanded racial remark the next time.

  5. "You just know" is absolutely right. Not even talking about racism, here, but you can tell when someone feels threatened by your presence or when they act like you don't belong where you are. Most certainly, you can just tell by their body language and inflections in their voice.

    I can't wait for you to move to your house, too :]

  6. @Thu- definitely, you can feel when you aren't wanted. Can't wait to get to the new house! :-D

  7. Congrats on the new home:) How exciting!!!

  8. wow...you are way better than me with that parking lot situation...wtf? why are YOU here? and i'd have clutched my husband's arm and my purse.


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