All Parts Of Me

My existence is not political. 

My existence is not a difference of opinions.

A difference of opinion is whether you like glazed or jelly donuts. Not if a person deserves humanity. I want to be horrified that in the year 2020 this needs said, but I’m not the tiny girl in the photo above anymore. Racism hasn’t gone away just because it doesn’t present the same way it did 100 years ago. Racism adapts. For example, schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1960s.

These past days have been hard. My anger and frustration continue to boil because so many people are simplifying centuries long matter into trivial terms like ‘All Lives Matter.’ It has been amazing to see friends be in support, post, and comment–online or offline. This isn’t political; the movement did not just begin.

I used to believe that education would solve racism. When I was small, I thought racist people needed lessons because of lackluster education. Now I realize you can not teach love and acceptance to hardened and ugly hearts. You can have conversations and give information all you want, but minimal information will be retained. As soon as you leave, they go back to their old ways and thoughts. Imagine being so closed minded in the 21st century that you’d rely on hatred and stereotypes to define whole groups of people, especially when we have endless knowledge at the tips of our fingers. Hatred is an ugly illogical thing.

I was 13 or 14 the first time I met another Black person involved with horses. Quinn Massey was the former Police Chief of Harrisburg City and has since passed away from cancer. I learned about horses, but also learned the history of Black cowboys and that there were more like us involved. I remember the first time going to his barn and his surprise that I had no fear of the horses.

I started collecting model horses before I joined the hobby. Collecting is probably the wrong word since I played with them. This being said, I never had Black dolls to play with my Breyers. I’m so glad there are two now, but there’s yet to be any Black males or any peoples of color.

I have always been the only one or one of the only people who looked like me in a room. But that’s been my experience my whole life:in elementary, middle, high school, college, and even now. It was the same when I’ve attended bookclubs, book signings (minus the time I saw Angie Thomas), Breyerfest, model horse shows, when I began showing horses in college, and when I have sat on community boards. It was so normal to me; I thought it was the norm for every Black person. It took me years to question why. I used to see my silence as a weapon, that if I took up the right amount of space I would educate people. But I was wrong.

Breyerfest 2010

It’s hard for me to comment on racism in the horse world because I’ve always kept to the fringes. I rode different horses and started consistently taking lessons after I got my drivers license. I attended real horse shows and felt eyes on me, but going into spaces where I was the only diversity didn’t feel off. I didn’t compete in the juniors or ride at show barns. I just enjoyed being around any and all horses. Comments made to my mom like ‘Oh your girls don’t do the usual sports’ weren’t all that different from ‘Wow, you don’t sound Black on the phone.’ It took a while for me to question it. I’ve listened to stories of other Black riders and their experiences with racism. These encounters still occur, and it all breaks my heart. The comments and encounters they’ve shared would make me question my place in the equestrian world.

You must be antiracist to want to learn and seek out knowledge. Gaining knowledge by reading books and asking questions will help fill in the gaps. However, listening more than speaking will make the largest impact.

White supremacy and racism have never had a place in our society, but especially not in the 21st century. We have knowledge at the tips of our fingers. There is no excuse to be racist. The excuses of not knowing Black people or whatever frivolous reason don’t gain sympathy from me.

What should be done about the racists? You can’t force someone to want to be antiracist. So for racists, you have to make them begin to feel uncomfortable and question themselves– the same way I questioned if I belonged my whole life. I was not sure if that was being cruel, but I began to realize that I do belong here. I have done nothing wrong; I have always been myself whereas they have taken a standing to hate a certain group. Being racist should not be welcomed with wide arms, no matter how talented the person is. Talent doesn’t negate human decency.

What will I do? I will continue to ride.

I will continue to be a mirror for kids, young adults, and adults in whatever capacity I can. I will continue to listen, read, and expand my knowledge of history and the varied experiences mankind live.

I have loved real horses and this hobby for the vast majority of my life. There’s no stopping me now. Black Lives Matter.

23 thoughts on “All Parts Of Me

  1. Laurie June 6, 2020 / 3:52 pm

    Thank you for your insight!

    Like

    • Ashley Swink June 17, 2020 / 2:47 pm

      THIS – thank you so much for your voice! POC in the horse world are such an important part of the history, heritage and future of horsemanship, and should be more visible!!! Your photos are awesome, and I hope to see you at model horse shows in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laurie June 6, 2020 / 3:52 pm

    Thank you for your insight!

    Like

  3. Elaine Lindelef June 6, 2020 / 4:24 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad you’re part of the hobby. We haven’t met in person but I always enjoy what you contribute when we’ve met virtually. I hope we get to meet some day.

    Plus that may be one of the most adorable kid-on-pony pictures ever. ❤

    Like

  4. Elaine Lindelef June 6, 2020 / 4:29 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad you’re part of the hobby. We haven’t met in person but I always enjoy what you contribute when we’ve met virtually. I hope we get to meet some day.

    Plus that may be one of the most adorable kid-on-pony pictures ever. ❤

    Any time anyone has the time and energy to help me make the model horse community more inclusive, I am here to listen and learn. Good intentions alone haven’t gotten us to where we need to be.

    Like

  5. Lynn Isenbarger June 6, 2020 / 5:24 pm

    Love this post. Thank you for sharing your insights.

    Like

  6. Mary Hirsch June 6, 2020 / 10:51 pm

    I love your story and photos! And love a rider who rides in more than one discipline. 🙂

    Like

  7. Julie Dicarlo June 7, 2020 / 8:50 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are such a beautiful soul.

    Like

  8. Leah June 8, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Shoestring Stable and commented:
    Everyone should read this. Our hobby can do better, and needs to do better. #blacklivesmatter

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sashacurtiss June 8, 2020 / 5:40 pm

    You are a shining star inside and out. People like you give me hope for the world. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Backyard Horse Blog June 9, 2020 / 5:19 pm

    I am new to your blog and wanted to say hello! I have horses and also used to collect and show model horses- great Breyerfest pictures you have! I really enjoyed reading this essay and listening to your thoughts and perspectives. I look forward to following your blog- Mary Lynne

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chris June 9, 2020 / 8:14 pm

    Reposted on My Horse University. I am ready to listen. Thank you for your words!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lisa Clarizio June 17, 2020 / 2:03 pm

    Lack of diversity is a huge issue in equestrian sports. Thank you for talking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. bjorgo June 17, 2020 / 3:54 pm

    Your voice, and your words, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Renata Shura June 17, 2020 / 7:57 pm

    Beautifully written! And yes, while listening is so very important, I hope you will use your talent with the written word to continue to communicate your experience and knowledge.

    BTW…this! Just THIS!
    “Talent doesn’t negate human decency.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Karen Elrod Davison June 26, 2020 / 10:30 am

    Thank you! So proud to be in the same ‘horse-crazy girl” club with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gordon Sosbe September 6, 2020 / 11:51 pm

    glad to be one of many visitors on this awing web site : D.

    Like

  17. Parenting September 17, 2020 / 12:15 am

    Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

    Like

  18. Horse Gal May 25, 2021 / 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul, appreciate you posting this. A very inspiring story that in some way echo my life experience. I’m so glad you found yourself in this hobby, keep it up!

    Like

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