Open Letter to Kelly Ripa From a Gangsta
I admit I am super bummed about the comments you made while interviewing Christopher Walken on your nationally televised talk show this week. Two reasons: (a) I like watching your banter with Andy Cohen, and (b) I like pit bulls.
“[...] if it’s a gangster it would have to be a dangerous pit bull kind of dog, right?”
Oh, Kelly. Gaw. There are a bazillion kindhearted, scared pits sitting in pounds across this country — hopeful someone might give them a second chance before they’re fatally overlooked, and you laid out a death-sentencing stereotype for a ginormous viewing audience. You’re a human; you say dumb stuff like the rest of us. I get it. Of course, the difference is when I say ridiculous things rooted in ignorance, my face isn’t in front of a camera that’s feeding to millions of households. That said, you’ve got the tools to make it right, so, come on with it.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I used to believe pit bulls were dangerous dogs, too. In fact, I almost spontaneously combusted when my daughter returned from a visit with her father and announced, “Dad got a new puppy. He’s a pit bull/Mastiff named Rupert.” Certain the pit mix was going to eat my daughter’s face, I scrambled to the phone so I could yell, “Why are you taking a chance like this with our child? What are you thinking?!” I complained to anyone who would listen until one day a friend of mine said, “You know, I respect you, but you’re way off base here. Rupert is going to be a great dog.”
Years later, I’ve discovered my friend was…wrong. Rupert isn’t a great dog; he’s an exceptionally outstanding, magnificent dog. And I was an uneducated jackass.
Since meeting Rupert, I’ve worked with quite a few disadvantaged pitties in the animal rescue circuit. The shelters are full of them not because they are dangerous, but because the mythic stereotype — like the one you and I perpetuated about them — keeps many prospective adopters at bay. Even worse, breed specific legislation (BSL), which is an unjustified witch hunt against protecting the welfare of dogs who “look dangerous” to the nosy-old-bitty Miss Suzy Q. Peabodies of the world, is a current item voters in many areas are addressing as I type.
Kelly, whether you realize it or not, there’s probably at least one dog who died today because your fans decided not to adopt a pit bull on death row. There are probably many other fans who decided to vote in favor of BSL because: “Kelly Ripa is a savvy chick, and she thinks pit bulls are dangerous.”
You have the power to say you’re sorry and make a difference in a way most of us combined would be unable to achieve within our lifetimes. I bet you could have an intelligent pit bull advocate on your show tomorrow morning. I bet you could have a hundred. Or a thousand. I bet you could save a lot of lives and reverse an enormous amount of bigotry by giving these dogs five minutes of your airtime.
You slipped. It happens. Fix it, homegurl.
Wantin’ to be your fan,