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Traces of the Slave Patrol: Notes on Breed-Specific Legislation


This Article explores the ways in which antiblackness haunts nationwide breed-specific legislation of today. Dogs have long featured as a constitutive element in the antiblack dynamics of police power. Central to slave patrols of the past, dogs remain essential to current law enforcement practices. The blackening of breed-specific legislation in legal and political discourse is a critical, subtle, and sophisticated way in which white Americana enacts its humanity and continues to regulate blackness. In bringing together historical and legal material, this Article explores how breed-specific legislation intervenes to define the boundaries of blackness. In other words, this Article investigates how breed-specific legislation helps make blackness legible and familiar in an era defined by shifts in racial identity. Ultimately, this Article is concerned with how racial slavery lives on in modern times and how breed-specific legislation is part of a long unbroken sequence of antiblack violence, punishment, and surveillance.