In case you haven’t figured out this is a pretty new blog, I started it initally in January with the idea of tying it into my other writing and projects, and then promptly put it on the back burner. Then a few weeks ago decided to give it another try.
In the past few days, I have gotten a lot of comments (lot relative to the size of posts in this blog) about my entry on dogs and Mainers, enough to make me revisit the idea with some additional thoughts. Someone made a comment that has been on my mind all day about understanding the culture of outdoor type states and if I am not a dog person maybe I should not have moved to Maine. I must be honest that comment raised my blood pressure a tad, probably because in the 4 years that I have been writing on diversity in Maine for a local paper, whenever I make a critical comment about Mainers especially my fellow white Mainers, I am almost certain to get a letter or email telling me to leave Maine if I don’t like it.
Well for starters my move to Maine was not my choice, sometimes in life we make moves to locations for family or jobs, and find ourselves in locations that would not have been of our choosing and well, that’s what Maine is for me. Don’t get me wrong its a gorgeous state, but truthfully I am a Black woman from Chicago so moving from a city of 3.5 million to a state of 1.5 million was already major culture shock and we aren’t even getting to the small tidbit that 97% of this state’s residents are white. Um, that is a major fucking adjustment.
That said, I am not anti-dog, granted I may never own a dog personally, then again I probably won’t own a cat either, I am not a pet person and my pesky allergies really don’t help the matter either.
However I find it fascinating that living in this day and age where we strive for inclusion and diversity that for some aka some white folks the idea of seeing things from someone else’s point of view is extremely hard to do. Now as a Black woman I live what I call a dual life, see I must understand my culture as a Black American woman, yet in order to live in the greater American culture I must also understand white folks as its pretty hard to live independent of white folks in America and that has nothing to do with being in Maine. Last time I looked most of the major corporations and wealth are ran and held by white folks. So even if I were back in Chicago living down on say 79th and Racine, mostly likely my job would still make it that I would need to leave my predominantly Black neighborhood and go work downtown where most likely my boss or the bosses boss would be white. Simple fact that is hard to avoid. At that job, I would be expected to conduct myself in a manner that is pleasing and comforting to whites aka be a non-threatning black person. Ok, cool we all do what we gotta do to earn the cheddar to keep ourselves housed and clothed.
You may be wondering what the hell does this have to do with dogs? Well for me it brings up the fact that as a Black woman I must always tolerate and adjust to things that sometimes I want to call bullshit on, just to get by in a world ran and owned by people who look nothing like me. Yet when the shoe is on the other foot for my white brothers and sisters it seems a lot harder to do. In the case of my friend I mentioned in my initial dog post, all she wanted was to attend a workshop/retreat and be able to breathe.. yes, I get it that the dog is family but the dog could not be left for a few hours?
In my example of the street festival I attended, I am sorry but a festival packed with throngs of people and kids just does not seem like a good place to have large dogs that often like to be friendly with people who frankly may just want to enjoy the fireworks and some fried dough.
By the same token, I know if I am at the beach or I go to my local farm for my CSA pickup that I can and should expect dogs, farms and dogs, beaches and dogs, even in my mind they go together. I may not like it, but I get it.
That said, if we want true inclusion, we must look at and consider everyone’s point of view and actually hear their words. As I tell my two year old daughter “Do you have your listening ears on?”