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We had a conversation on the podcast about the racialization of dog breeds, where we talked to @BronwenDickey, the author of Pitbull: The Battle Over an American Icon.

In the 1930s, Pitbulls — which, as Bronwen pointed out to me over and over, don’t constitute a dog breed but a shape — used to be seen as the trusty sidekick of the proletariat, the Honda Civic of canines. (Think of “the Little Rascals” dog.)

That began changing in the postwar years and the rise of the suburbs. A pedigreed dog became a status symbol for the burgeoning white middle class. And pitbulls got left behind in the cities.

Aside: USians have flitted between different “dangerous” breeds and media-fueled panics around specific dogs. (anti-German xenophobia in the late 1800s fueled extermination programs of the spitz, a little German dog that newspapers said was vicious and spread disease.)

Some previously “dangerous” dogs get rebranded over the years — German shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers. But the thing their respective periods of contempt and concern had to do is that they were associated with some contemporarily undesirable group.