“If They Take Dogs and Jews, They’ll Probably Take You…”


Inspired by true events…

Montreal, 1963.

“Sorry, we do have apartments for rent but we can’t risk having other tenants move out if you move in.”

I stood there with the baby sleeping in my arms while my other son peeked out from behind my skirt. He gave the middle-aged woman the same blank look that I was giving her. My husband was registering at the university so we were on our own to apartment hunt that day. It was cold and the excitement of witnessing my first snowfall was long gone.

This was the third visit we had made in response to For Rent ads and it would be the third time we were turned away. It hadn’t dawned on me to warn landlords that we were Black but I guess that I should have – it would have saved my time and my little one’s feet in this eye-opening cold.

Three times was not a charm.

Seeing the look of despair on my face, the woman tried to be helpful.

“Why don’t you try the building across the street, dear? They always have availability. If they take dogs and Jews, they’ll probably take you. Merry Christmas!

And with that, the woman quietly shut her door.

©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

72 thoughts on ““If They Take Dogs and Jews, They’ll Probably Take You…”

      1. Actually, my friend just faced this not too long ago. She was rejected several times because she was Black! She will come to visit an apartment that they will say, 5 min earlier, that it was available, and when she will get there, they will not even let her see the apartment, claiming that somebody had just rented it! So those were not the days… these are still the days!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow! It’s hard to imagine what some people endure(d). We know what occurred in those times, but how could one woman look at another with her two children and turn them away? With such harsh words!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nowadays it’s probably illegal to behave in such a way. This post reminds me of a similar experience in the form of a poem by Nigerian Nobel prize winning poet Wole Soyinka when he was a student in the UK. My daughter is in the UK now as a student and we like that first she got a Sri Lankan boyfriend and now a half Chinese one. We raised her to be broad-minded.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There’s something really captivating about historical literature, whether fiction or not. I love it. And this little diamond that you have, touched me. Inspired me to want to write. Thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I agree, it still lives on, but in a more settle way… I met a Butcher in Cornwall who refused to sell me bones for my dogs because of my French accent – and Im white. He clearly gave me the look “we don’t want your lot around here” and refused to serve me. There are hardly any black people in that part of the country. It’s very sad for them. They want to protect their precious cultural identity but they lack of the depth and richness of multiculturalism, what a shame. They don’t know it but they are missing out so much! .

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it’s because the landlords remember how they were as boys 😀 Over here the belief is that the best way to control a boy is to get him married – the wife will make him toe the line. And if he still is unmanageable well then they can blame the girl!

        Liked by 2 people

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  8. I appologize, on behalf of too many of “my people”… None of my family would have reacted this way, but I know that this happened and probably still happens to too many black people… I felt bad reading your story, though I don’t relate to these people’s way of thinking….

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This broke my heart. The way you wrote this with covert pain…is astounding. I do remember a story recently(this year) on the news, about a mixed race couple who was denied the right to fill out an application for a place, simply because the man was black- this was in Canada. It is very sad that we as human beings still go through this. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The fact that she ends “If they take dogs and Jews…” with Merry Christmas… What’s so merry about it? You basically just called me a dog. But then is that really a surprise? They called us apes too. Quite frankly, I’m sick of being called an animal, especially given the savagery of the ones who usually say it. Terrible.

    The fact that some people still think this way really just . . . ugh, I have no words. But I try not to be offended. You can’t change people’s hearts, even if they’re as cold and as black as they come (the irony).

    I just hold onto the hope that there are more good people in the world that I can gravitate to, and that God will have the final say when it’s all finished.

    Liked by 1 person

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