Monday, August 1, 2022

Are Dogs' Names Racist?


A recent Social Psychology Quarterly study purported to show a disparity in the time it took for dogs to be adopted based on racial associations with the animals’ names. Yes, dog names—or peoples’ reactions to them-- are racist, too.

The study claimed that “white” names resulted in shorter adoption times as compared to “Black” names, though the correlations were mostly concentrated around pit bulls, “a breed that is stereotyped as dangerous and racialized as Black.” Pit bulls are dangerous, that is a statistically unavoidable fact. I have never thought (or heard) of them being “racialized as Black,” however.

Predictably, academics lauded the report.

Daniela Jauk-Ajamie, an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Akron, tweeted of the study, “Fascinating research! Amazing idea.”

Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy, stated that the study was an “[i]nteresting example of how racialized names still evoke bias even when dealing with non-humans.”

Shiri Noy, assistant professor of sociology at something called Denison University, also lauded the study’s authors, in this case for their “cutting edge work.”

On it went, ad infinitum.

But can dogs’ names truly illustrate racism? Does anyone not adopt a dog based on its “name” at the time? Can’t the adopter change the mutts name?

If, say, a white person goes to a kennel and observes two dogs, one named “Chaz” and the other “Malcolm X” or “Toby,” is that person just going to ignore the differences in their appearance, demeanor, and other apparent traits and just decide to adopt “Chaz” because his name sounds whiter?

This is just example 1,982,468 of the total collapse of higher education in America.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but this study is barking up the wrong tree.







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