What a time to be alive in this country. I’ve struggled to take all of the emotions I’ve been feeling – the anger, hurt, and hopelessness – and deal with them, so I did it the best way I knew how, by writing. It is impossible to scroll through my timeline without seeing Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, or Ahmaud Arbery shot in his torso fighting for his life, or Breonna Taylor’s bright smile in a remembrance photo. For the past few days, I have seen cities in flames and citizens flooding the streets to protest the injustices that they suffer every day. I have seen parents hugging their black children tight out of fear, having them stay inside to watch movies, or play video games rather than going outside to play in their backyard because they fear for their safety. I have watched mothers cry and heard their anguish screams as they ask, “WHY?” I listened to George Floyd plead for his life and call out for his mother before taking his last breaths and I have cried more tears than I ever thought possible for one person to cry.
Being Black in America is a constant state of fear, helplessness, and anger. I am fearful whenever my husband, brothers, and father leave the house. I am angry when my husband and I are pulled over for supposedly running a red light, just to have FOUR cops walk up to our car, guns cocked and ready to fire, and I feel helpless when cops yank my baby brother out of his car, cuff him and seat him on the sidewalk all because he was driving a new Subaru and “looked like he was involved” in a situation they were investigating, and despite how much he told them the car was, in fact, his and not stolen and that he was just driving home and hadn’t even been in the area for the last half hour they didn’t care and kept a gun trained on the back of his head. As a black person in America, this is my reality every day. I do not get a break from fear, anger, or helplessness. I do not get a break from my blackness. I do not get to calmly interact with the police. In every instance of racial injustice that I face the only thing I can focus on after is to be thankful that my husband, my brothers, my father were able to stay calm while their life was in danger. Being Black in America is crying in the early hours of the morning at the thought of what could happen to myself or my loved ones in the coming hours, putting on a smile to go to work to seem approachable and capable, and then crying tears of relief at the end of the night that everyone is safe and sound, to then sleep with one eye open for fear that the cops may conduct a raid on the wrong house and kill us in our sleep. Being Black in America is having to fear the very people tasked with protecting us. As a black woman in America, I am robbed of the luxury of wanting normalcy, I cannot get married and start a family as so many of my friends can. I have to worry if the child I birth will live to see 16 years old. I have to live in constant fear that my child would be without a father because someone didn’t like the fact that he went for a jog. As a black woman, being a mother is more of a nightmare than a dream and it is one that I would rather not subject myself to. Being Black in America is being eternally exhausted.
I am seeing cities in flames, people chanting for the right to live, to exist and I am hearing people committed to not understanding the cause judge and berate people for looting and destroying their cities. I do not condone violence in any form, I do not encourage looting and violence but I understand. I understand that black people are angry. I understand that they are tired of existing in fear. I understand that they are tired of people being more concerned about Target burning than they do about the life of another human being. I understand that black people are angry that when they protest for their lives they are called thugs, but when other loot and riot because a sports team won a championship they are called “rowdy”. Black people have protested peacefully, they have taken a knee, they have marched with children and have been repeatedly told that they’re form of protest is not the right form. Black people have sat back and trusted the justice system to work in their favour for years just to watch it fail them time and time again. Black people are fighting for their life, daily. Existing in this world as a black person is continually fighting for your life. Black Lives Matter is a movement that should never have to exist, the mere fact that anyone has to chant “Black Lives Matter” is proof that society is failing us. Black lives should not be in danger due to buying skittles, being healthy by jogging, using a $20 bill at a deli, or even sleeping in our own homes. To argue that all lives matter, or blue lives matter in response shows that there are people who are actively committed to not understanding the cause. To be pro black does not mean you are anti-white or anti any other race. Yes, every human life matters, but every human life is not in danger due to racism and prejudice. BLACK lives are in danger.
I have lost friends and acquaintances due to differing opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement. I would gladly lose 1000 more. This isn’t a differing of the opinion of which sports team is better, this is about an opinion that enforces the idea that my life is less valuable because I have more melanin in my skin. My journey in the equestrian world is different from so many others simply because of the colour of my skin. I will never get to have the memories of riding with my child and sharing my love of this sport with them because I will not birth babies to sacrifice to this cruel world. The equestrian world is lacking in diversity and representation. There are many black equestrians that are not featured, not uplifted, and not welcomed. I have had racial slurs made at barns that I have been at. I have leased horses where the owner of the horse in the stall next to mine has “MAGA” plastered all over their truck, Facebook, and their attire. My husband and I have been kicked out of a lesson program because they had no room in their program for new students but were able to help a friend of mine that called to book lessons after we were kicked out. I have been tasked with smiling in the face of people who voice their support for Trump simply because I want to excel in this sport. I have also watched with disappointment as many of my white “friends” and equestrian companies I love ignore this issue and refuse to speak up, support us, or use their platform to call for change. I have faced numerous instances of racism in a sport that brings me so much joy. The Black Equestrian is a platform I created to call attention to these issues and to uplift people affected by racism. It does warm my heart to see riders I look up to on social media use their platform to voice their support and use their privilege to call out others who are not doing the same. It is important to understand that until everyone agrees that Black Lives matter, they won’t actually matter. Having a platform and a following is a privilege that comes with the responsibility to use your voice for positive change. Black people have a long history in the equestrian world in all disciplines and it is time that they are acknowledged and treated equally.
To those who stand with us, we thank you. To those that have used this time to stay silent, we’ve noticed. To my fellow black people both equestrians and non-riders I am with you. I love you and we are in this together. And to the fallen, we will continue to fight in your honour. For ways to get involved check out the links below. Please feel free to add any other notable organizations in the comment section below.
Minnesota Freedom Fund:
Black Visions Collective:
Reclaim the Block: