Karens, Kens and Dogs

Let’s stop policing Black people

Jeffrey Kass
ZORA

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My Bernedoodle, Gucci
Image: Photo by Jeffrey Kass

Like some of my friends, I wasn’t looking forward to being an empty nester.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of raising my kids. They made me a better human.

My ex-wife and I always cooperated on everything, including schedules. Some days the kids were with me, and other times with her, and if one of us wanted to go out of town, we’d switch the schedule. Since I was accustomed to times without my kids, I didn’t feel a sense of “Finally, freedom!” after they graduated high school.

But once they all left the house, and there was no more homework, school activities and regular meals together, I started feeling a bit lonely.

I know I’m still a dad, and I talk to all three of them several times a week, though spread across three cities and two countries. But it just isn’t the same as enjoying family dinners, game nights, home karaoke, Wii dancing, Xbox NBA 2K, T-Pain mic singing at bedtime and horseplay.

So I went out and bought my first dog. Truthfully, it was my girlfriend’s idea, but I still missed my kids.

We got a Bernedoodle named Gucci.

Problem solved. Now I could love on a yummy little one all over again.

One morning ritual I had with my kids was going to a coffee shop before I dropped them off at school. My oldest son enjoyed coffee so much that he started his own coffee cart business at his high school where he served up Americanos, lattes and nitro cold brew.

Those days are over, but at least I could take my new dog Gucci with me to the coffee shop while I did my writing.

Because he’s so cute, virtually every patron stopped to pet Gucci and tell him how handsome he is. The baristas loved seeing Gucci each day. My dog loves the coffee shop so much that when we walk in that neighborhood, he instinctively heads for it.

But one winter morning, with Gucci by my side, the apologetic barista told me I couldn’t bring Gucci into the coffee shop anymore.

Apparently, a patron complained to the city about the presence of dogs, and even though none of these coffee shops actually are restaurants that prepare food (they get pastries delivered), it’s technically a violation of city code to bring dogs into an establishment that serves food. No more Gucci.

Scores of happy dogs frequent coffee shops in our area, so I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated with the small-minded complainers.

Isn’t this emblematic of a larger problem in society?

Far too many white men and women, in particular, show off their privilege every day by complaining about every imaginable thing they can.

“Let me speak to your manager!”

I saw it at Target last month when a middle-aged white woman raised her voice at an employee stocking shelves because he was blocking an aisle, and she had to go around.

Everyone knows you can’t go to Target if you’re in a rush anyway.

“Can’t you do this when customers aren’t shopping?” the woman demanded.

I saw it at my coffee shop during the holiday season as a woman threw insults at a 22-year-old barista.

“My Americano is too watery! You had one job. Geez!”

Sadly, the color barrier is still alive and well in the complaint department.

Black people know that when white people complain, oftentimes they get results. But when a Black man or woman does the same, it’s just another angry Black man or woman.

Much of the time, it’s far more serious that the coffee strength, and the racial impact can be much more costly.

White people have pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protestors, and remember when Amy Cooper called the cops on Black bird watcher Christian Cooper, claiming she was in danger? In St. Louis, a woman called the police on a Black man entering his own apartment.

A common behavior of these complainers is the unsolicited policing of Black people.

One video captured a white couple in San Francisco confronting a Black resident for stenciling “Black Lives Matter” in chalk outside his own home.

At one point in the video, the white man tells the Black man he is free to express his opinions, but “not on people’s property.” When the Black man then asked the white couple if they thought his actions would be OK if he did live there, the woman claimed she knew the homeowner. But we know she didn’t — because it was the Black man’s home!

The costly racial impact of this is obvious.

When unjustified and unprovoked complaining is directed toward Black men or women, their very lives are on the line.

Police in many cases are more likely to take the word of the white complainer over the Black victim.

Often, police stop or apprehend a Black person who just happens to be in the same vicinity but isn’t even the target of the complaint. Cases of “mistaken identity” are plentiful.

All of us need to stop complaining about BS, stop complaining about our fellow Black and Brown human beings, and instead focus on being the best version of ourselves we can be.

Treating people with dignity and kindness. Minding our business except when we need to speak out against injustice or stand up for others.

And letting cute sleeping dogs lie.

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Jeffrey Kass
ZORA
Writer for

A Medium Top Writer on Racism, Diversity, Education, History and Parenting | Speaker | Award-Winning Author | Latest Book: Black Batwoman V. White Jesus | Dad