I just received this through twitter: Memphis woman charged with aggravated animal cruelty. Memphis is my home town, and the animal cruelty immediately caught my eye. This is nothing new for Memphis. In fact, some months ago, I wrote a post on a series of animal cruelty charges, majority in Memphis, all involving black men. This time it’s a black woman.
I could postulate at least five reasons why black folks and animal cruelty appear so intimate in the media. If I took the time to research for this post, I imagine there’s a scholarly article out there picking apart the rampant violence towards animals in the black community. And there’s likely the article’s counterpart: some critical race media studies essay saying “No, it’s not that black people are more violent toward animals, obviously. It’s just that the media is racialized toward showing more negative stories about black people, regardless of the topic…because of prevailing whiteness.”
Setting hypothetical scholarly reflections aside, there just seems to be a surge in animal abuse reports in general, just within this country alone. “Man accused of trying to marinate cat.” “Dog found brutalized.” “Man charged in deaths of 832 hogs.” That last one is more ironic than shocking because the man was a farmer and would’ve been responsible for their deaths even without the animal cruelty charge. The weapons of choice? The trunk of a car, a golf club, and absolutely nothing (no food or water) except confinement, respectively.
Maybe I’m just more attentive than I have been in the past, but there’s been way too many stories of black violence on animals this year. At the same time, heart-warming stories about animals have also been fairly numerous; most of them I have found are about an abused dog getting a second chance to life or some animal bringing joy to some human’s life or the story of a rescuer and her experience with the rescued animal. Not one of them have I read about a black person doing something right for animals. Sadly, I don’t find this surprising at all–just incredibly disappointing. So I’ve decided, it’s about fine time I write that story of black people living well with, helping, and being just “nice” to animals. I’m sending a shout out to all those average and extraordinary black folks who are interested. Whether you identify as an animal lover, animal rescuer, animal welfare advocate, animal rights activist, or just an off-beat, unidentified radical who gives a shit about the lives of animals and actually does stuff to help animals, I’m interested in your story.