Owner's Search for Lost Dog Named 'Negro' Starts Angry Twitter Fight

A runaway dog in Detroit, Michigan, was recently the center of social media controversy after his name sparked angry reactions when his owner posted that he was missing. 

Earlier this week, Twitter user @rebeca_macias18 posted a photo of her black dog “Negro” in the hope that it would help her find him. “Negro is missing please if anyone sees him message me!!!” the post reads with two images of a clearly all-black dog.

The ensuing social media argument underscores how different words mean different things to different people. It didn’t take long for the dog’s name to become a source of contention between Twitter users of a Spanish-speaking background and those of a black American background. Some users were quick react, pointing out that the name is a racially-charged word describing people of African origin. The term has offensive connotations. Others simply noted that negro means black in Spanish, the color of the dog.

The painful history attached to the use of the word in America, though, has warranted a national decision that applies to all. In 2016, former President Barack Obama signed legislation to strike the word negro from all federal laws, along with other outdated, racially sensitive terms such as oriental, Vice News reported.

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Some users were so enraged by the dog’s name that they demanded the owner change it. Others demanded to know why the owner would name her dog after a color, The International Business Times reported.  

“Cause I can? Is he my dog or your dog?” @rebeca_macias18 replied.

The term negro as racial slur for black people has its roots in the Portuguese word for “black.” It was first used to describe black people when Portuguese sailors began the African slave trade as we recognize it today in the mid-1400s. When the Spanish joined the slave trade soon after, they also used the word to describe the African slaves, because it meant the same in Spanish. In America, the term came to be used for anyone who appeared to be of African origin and it is associated with the horrors of slavery, segregation and racial inequality, Vice reported.

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The dog's owner claims that her dog's name is quite literal, he is named “negro” because he is the color black. She says his name has no connection to the racially charged term.

The uproar over Macias' dog's name came from Twitter users nationwide, not only Macias's home city, where Spanish-speaking residents and African Americans happen to be unevenly represented. Detroit, is home to the highest concentration of black people in the entire U.S., with 84.3 percent of the city identifying as black or black in combination with other races, Michigan Radio reported. In Michigan, only 4.6 percent of the population speak Spanish. 

The controversy seems to have subsided and the story does have a happy ending. The dog's owner reported that he found his way back home.