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New KC club using dogs as common denominator in building race relations

Black Dog Lovers Club of KC.jpg
Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 08:30:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new group will use dogs to bridge racial divides in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wednesday, Bar K will host the inaugural meeting of the Black Dog Lovers’ Club of Kansas City.

The new club is meant to be a social group for African Americans who own dogs. It has several goals.

One is to break down stereotypes about Black people who own dogs - as in they do not exclusively own pit bulls.

Another is to diversify Bar K, a dog park and restaurant along Berkley Riverfront Park.

The third is to build relationships between all races using dogs as a way to engage people.

“Dogs are the common denominator to allow people opportunities to see each other in spaces that we typically don’t see and do things we typically don’t do together,” explained Kiona Sinks, the co-founder of Black Excellence KC and a strategic adviser to the club.

Leib Dodell, the co-founder and co-owner of Bar K said he’s been working the past two years to make his business more inclusive and hopes this makes a big difference.

“I see every different shape and size and color of dog and I see mostly white faces,” Dodell explained. “I look forward to the time when I can look over my park and see the exact same diversity in the human experience as we see in the dog experience.”

Aja James, who has owned dogs her entire life, co-founded the Black Dog Lovers’ Club of Kansas City. She said dogs don’t care what race a person is and can help people understand they have more in common than not.

“Whether it’s COVID or political, so much stuff is dividing people. A way to bring people together and break down those barriers is exactly what we need,” James explained.

The group will host its first meeting Wednesday night from 6-9 p.m. at Bar K. The event is free and includes live music, drinks and food.

For more information on the club, email