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I Honestly Thought White People Were Better Than This

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Image: Michael Harriot (iStock)

I had forgoten about the first time.

I usually hear their dogs barking as I pass their house walking my dog, a 165-pound Great Dane. On most days, at least one of the dogs exit the house through what I assume is a doggie door, walk into the fenced-in backyard and yap at us as we walked by. But on this particular autumn day, the nice white couple was walking their dogs: two white, hairy Collies who were not as big as my dog, but larger than most. My dog, Omar, pulled me toward them as the dogs pulled their owners, an older white couple, in our direction.

Although Omar is big, black and intimidating (No, I refuse to write “that’s what she said”) he wouldn’t hurt a fly. But I still unsuccessfully tried to keep him away from the two Collies. When they met in the middle of the street, they played with each other (admittedly roughly) and we continued our walk.

Later that evening, I discovered one of the Collies had bitten Omar, leaving a deep puncture wound behind his ear. I put some ointment on it, the wound healed after a couple of weeks and I never thought about it again. It wasn’t the dog owner’s fault. It was just what dogs do. At least six months would pass before I saw them again.

A few months ago, on March 4, (You will find out why I know the exact date soon enough), Omar and I were walking through the neighborhood again when I saw the same woman approach me. After exchanging names and a few pleasantries, I noticed that she seemed unusually skittish. She approached me and asked me what time I usually walk my dog.

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As we talked, her husband came out of the house and asked me the same question. Then they asked me the $64,000 question:

“Is it ok if we exchange numbers so you can let us know when you’re walking Omar?” she said, as Omar stood beside her calmly. “I don’t know why I’m so nervous around him.”

“I don’t know why you’re nervous, either,” I responded. “Your dog bit my dog.”

“No, they didn’t,” she replied. “Collies don’t do that.”

Suprised at her dismissiveness, I told them I usually walk Omar around 5:30 pm and kept walking.


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