Buddy is from Brooklyn. The real one, not the gentrified, million dollar condo tourist Brooklyn. It’s the first home of my father– Red Hook waterfronts, Livonia Avenue houses torn down to make way for development. Before my dog came to live with me, he resided with an alcoholic super in a multi-family dwelling off Woodhaven Blvd. The building was owned by old Park Slope families of German-Jewish descent.
The old Brooklyn that I read about was a vibrant city in itself before it was incorporated into the makings of present-day New York City. It took an adjunct professor from Portland to introduce me to the the documented history of the borough in an urban studies class years ago.
I am in pain now, and the only thing that will comfort me is to write about it, how once again Buddy was temporarily wronged because of his breed. When I moved to NC last summer I read Pit Bull, one of the most in-depth, well-written treatises on the breed written by Bronwyn Dickey who happens to be a North Carolinian. I learned that generations ago the history of the Staffordshire Terrier side of Buddy was indeed a violent one, but that could be said of many other dog breeds that share homes with humans today.
All that doesn’t terrify me. What terrifies me is the stupidity of man, and how, science and rational thinking have moved beyond their grasp, by choice. I see it in the blind faith of some in this country supporting a demogogue with a documented track record of bankruptcies, yet they love him because he is, in their words, a millionaire, so “he must be a good businessman.”
On a deeply personal level, I see incredible stupidity in the collaboration of strangers banding together behind a white man who brought an unregistered wolf hybrid to a dog park, and how they are attempting to label my docile dog as an aggressor. Instead of bothering to question me, the police first took the report of the man, who said my dog attacked him. Immediately my dog was taken into quarantine for 10 days to be held and observed for the presence of rabies, even though he was updated with shots and registered with the Durham County Dept. of Health. I barely had enough time to quickly pour hydrogen peroxide over the puncture wound the wolf dog caused on his head.
On Monday I will pick up my dog, and like the NCAA ruling to move their tournament from a state that refuses to repeal the HB2 bill, I’m now revisiting thoughts I’ve had about spending the next 3-4 years in what the media and corporations lovingly call a “hate state.”I have so many wonderful choices to pursue graduate study, not to mention the need to feel safe about my dogs. But wait, there’s more! There’s the ol’ Southern boy network that, in spite of successfully being able to throw that shit back in their face, over and over again, the question remains: do I really want to deal with this tired, underlying tone of bigotry and gender disregard? I remind myself, I have no need to prove anything to some of these people. A disclaimer: I’ve met some of the friendliest, open people here who have exemplified the “Southern hospitality” that I have read about, to the point of ad nauseum. They’ve been blown away by my knowledge of the Southern literary traditions that make up a part of the American literary canon, and in a sense, it was one reason why I considered applying to grad school in NC. There exists however, the rotten apples of the bunch, those that find educated people of color a threat, the group that make many of my family and friends back home in the city worry. The presence of racism and bigotry exists outside of here as well, don’t get me wrong. Long Island has its share of underground sorry-ass Klan supporters. I recently had to battle with one of these bad apples, and it took me just one phone call and some New York City rapid fire thinking to get his lawyer to crawl back into the cave from where he came.
What I am 100% sure of, is that I am going to give the decision some deep thought over the next month. I learned a long time ago that one of the best ways to protest injustice is with your wallet. Do I want to invest thousands here, when the next state over, Virginia, will welcome me as an ally of the LGBTQ community? I will always stand my ground, for what is right, and like some opponents of the HB2 bill have stated, the North Carolina GOP party is cutting their nose to spite their face. The absence of these tournaments over the next 6 years will result in a loss of badly needed jobs in the Charlotte area, and diminished revenue for small businesses. In the meantime, UNC awaits my decision. I like to see it this way, as if I were the Aggie Corporation: The state could add $50,000 toward their projected loss of $655 million. A drop in the bucket, but a sign of hard times ahead if other businesses felt the same way. So far, many do.
Suggested reading: It may be out of print, but “The Fairies Are Dancing All Over the World” by poet Michael Rumaker. Before retiring, he was my creative writing 101 professor at CCNY, introduced me to the work of Flannery O’Connor when I was a wide-eyed 19yo, and was classmates with Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and William Carlos Williams, at the fabled Black Mountain College.