After this past week, with tons of activity on social media, protests, votings, and so much more, it’s safe to say that it has been QUITE the week for our world.
Many in the equestrian community are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and disappointed, not only in this situation with our society, but how many have been mistreated in the equine industry too. Inequality, racism, prejudice, partiality, lack of diversity, lack of inclusivity, these are all a few ongoing issues that have been happening right beneath our noses, at a variety of facilities and show-grounds around the world.
There is no “right” thing to say or do right now. But, there are plenty of ways that you can show your support, promote diversity & inclusivity, and keep this conversation going. If you are not interested in being on the frontlines of protests, petitioning, voting, etc… there are still so many ways you can contribute!
I have organized all this information into different sections. You can browse by the headings and easily sift through the information in whatever order you wish. However, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read through everything.
Be an Active Ally
If you are a non-bipoc individual, like me, you are likely wondering how exactly you can show support and get involved. You might not have a clue where to start, what to say, what to do…It is very overwhelming and stressful.
I will tell you that I had a hard time navigating this situation in the beginning. I made mistakes, I have had uncomfortable discussions, I’ve broken down several times from the overwhelm and disappointment, and you will too. THAT’S OKAY!
It is apart of the growth process; acknowledging your privilege, making the mistakes, stepping outside of your comfort zone to have tough conversations — those are the “growing pains”. This is how we change and transform ourselves, and our industry.
So, how can you and I be active allies to our bipoc community? How can we all continue moving this conversation forward?
Acknowledge your privilege: It’s important to acknowledge your privilege. Non-bipoc members will never fully understand what biopoc individuals have to go through in their lifetime. Say this statement to yourself “I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand.”. Now reflect — What does this mean to you? What do you understand, that you will never understand? What are you standing for? Why are you standing for it?
Speak out: Voicing yourself can be challenging, and it can be uncomfortable. But, it is necessary. You want to have those tough conversations with yourself, your family, your children, your friends… Speaking out helps others find resources and information. It inspires and motivates more people to join the conversation. Speaking out helps create a safe, inclusive space for progression in our community.
However, do not feel pressured to speak out on social media! It a completely personal decision.
If you are silent, I see you. I see that you are overwhelmed, processing, educating yourself, healing, and recovering. I see you formulating your thoughts to figure out what to say, and what to do. I see and recognize that your silence DOES NOT equal apathy. (via @chetakhorses)
Uplift the voices of our BIPOC community: It’s incredibly important to shed light on the voices of those that this is first-handedly affecting, and who have endured this their entire lives. If you see a post or story that has great information, education, resources, or you simply enjoyed reading it, just quickly share / repost on your platform. It only takes a few taps on a screen to do this! Sharing resources to help educate your audience, even just friends and family, goes a LONG way.
Unlearn & Relearn: Challenge your own bias! Whether we like it or not, we’ve exposed ourselves to bias and racism (likely multiple times too). Whether it be through our entertainment, associations, employment, or education, you’ve probably heard someone crack a racist joke. So, take the time to research information and educate yourself. Why is XYZ offensive? How and when did XYZ happen? Research some organizations to support whether it be a follow, donation, or volunteering. Do a quick google search to find some local bipoc-owned businesses to support in your own area. All these actions go a LONG way.
There are plenty of businesses and NPOs that you can support, whether it be with a donation / a purchase, or a simple follow. Here are a few black-owned equestrian businesses and NPOs I’ve found (please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have suggestions of others to add!):
The Urban Equestrian Academy (@TheUrbanEquest): The Urban Equestrian Academy aims to open doors that have not been visibly present before in the Equestrian World. The UEA is focused on widening participation of those with the least experience in the Equestrian world and also individuals / communities with the least access to it. Visit their website HERE for more info!
Compton Jr Equestrians (@ComptonJrEquestrians): Compton Jr. Equestrians was developed to serve inner city youth in the hub city of Compton, along with local areas. CJE was formed in response to the lack of programs available to youth in the community who are at risk for dropping out of school, incarceration, and poverty. Check out their website HERE for more info!
Saddle Up and Read (@SaddleUpAndRead): Saddle Up And Read is a nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage youth to achieve literary excellence through equine activities. Visit their GoFundMe page HERE to donate!
CBC Horseback Riding Academy (@CBCEquine): CBC Therapeutic Horseback Riding Academy, is a family ran and operated program, founded by Brittney Chambers. CBC meets riders and horses right where they are at, and focuses on the goals of each individual student to help ensure that they reach them. Visit their website HERE for more info!
The Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy (@philadelphiaurbanridingacademy): PURA is a nonprofit 501c3 established to preserve and educate the public on the history and culture of Urban Black Cowboys in the City of Philadelphia. Visit their FB page HERE for more info!
Dancing Hearts Ranch LLC (@DancingHeartsRanch): Dancing Hearts Ranch is a retreat centre and show horse barn that proves that putting people and planet first can generate more than just profit. Visit their FB page HERE for more info!
Clip Clop Chronicles (@ClipClopBook): Clip Clop Chronicles follows the journey of Roz, a sassy, 12 year-old, African American girl determined to make it to the top of the equestrian world. This book was written by Angelica Witherspoon-Cassanova, a Florida native who enjoys writing and riding. She holds a screenwriting graduate certificate from UCLA and an MFA from the New York Film Academy. She currently splits her time between Florida and California where she works in entertainment and volunteers with an equine therapy program for veterans. Visit her website HERE for more info!
Just Believe Youth (@JustBelieveYouth): Just Believe exists to provide diverse outdoor experiences to youth from inner cities and at risk youth in urban communities. Our mission is to break the mold of traditional diversion programs, shed new light on sporting and outdoor activities, and to create interest in the pursuit of adventures not normally provided by after school programs. Visit their website HERE for more info!
Work to Ride (@WorkToRide): Founded in 1994, Work to Ride (WTR) is a 501 c3, non-profit community-based prevention program that aids disadvantaged urban youth though constructive activities centered on horsemanship, equine sports and education. The program is housed at Chamounix Stables, located in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. This setting provides a unique opportunity to bring urban youth in contact with animals and nature. Visit their website HERE for more info!
Take the Reins (@TakeTheReins_LA): The purpose of Taking the Reins is to provide space where girls are encouraged to act boldly, with courage and confidence through experiences at our equestrian and gardening facility. Immersed in the natural environment at our farm and equestrian center, girls learn the four pillars; Confidence, Responsibility, Teamwork and Leadership, all while experiencing the restorative power of nature. Visit their website HERE for more info!
The City Ranch (@TheCityRanch): Since its founding in 2007, The City Ranch has been dedicated to giving urban children lifelong memories on the backs of horses and providing accessible and affordable horseback riding to the greater Baltimore community and surrounding counties. TCR aims to develop positive character in children through the joys and responsibilities of horsemanship, and to bring horseback riding to the urban environment. Visit their website HERE for more info!
Ebony Horsewomen Inc (@EbonyHorsewomen): Ebony Horsewomen’s mission is to empower youth and guide them toward successful lives through the use of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning-(EAGALA) model. We use equine assisted therapy and therapeutic riding, along with educational programs, to cultivate leaders, prevent risky behaviors, and encourage academic achievement. Visit their website HERE for more info!
Detroit Horse Power (@DetroitHorsePower): Detroit Horse Power is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2015 by former Detroit elementary school teacher, David Silver. We teach urban youth to ride and care for horses as a way to develop critical skills that will set them up for future success. Our planned urban equestrian center will be built on repurposed vacant land in Detroit and offer year-round youth programming while supporting a stronger community. Visit their website HERE for more info!
It is incredibly important to educate yourself and stay in the loop. There are a variety of equestrian-related accounts, and a few non-equestrian accounts, that are AMAZING for promoting resources and education. Have a look for yourself!
- Young Black Equestrian’s Podcast — @YoungBlackEquestrians
- “The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland” available on paperback and as an audiobook — @ComptonCowboys
- Black Equestrians [Community Page]— @BlackEquestrians
- “Why i’m not longer talking about Race” by
- “So you want to talk about race” by
- “Me and White Supremacy” by
- “White Fragility” by
- “A Good Time for the Truth” by
TV Shows / Movies (available on Netflix!)
Education on Black Oppression
- Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap — To help understand the concept of “white privilege”
- Time: The Kalief Browder Story — A true-crime docuseries of a teenager wrongfully charged with theft, and jailed at Riker’s Island prison for over 1,000 days.
- When They See Us — A true-crime docuseries based on “The Central Park Five”. Shows the journey of five teenage boys, who are wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit. I have personally watched this series and it is very eye-opening. It will break your heart, but help you face the harsh reality that many Black individuals have to face in their lifetime.
- 13th — A documentary that analyzes the criminalization’s of African Americans in the US prison boom.
- Who Killed Malcom X? —An insight into Malcom X, his beliefs, and his mysterious death. (via @unity.celest)
BLM Movement Related Series / Movies
- Dear White People
- Fruitvale Station
- Seven Seconds
- Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
- LA 92
- Anne with an E
- She’s Gotta Have It
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Innocence Files
- Training Day
- American Son
- All American
- Family Reunion
- Bring It On: All or Nothing
Support your local BIPOC businesses! Do some research on what bipoc businesses are in your province / state. These are just a few, in some major cities in Ontario.
- Waterloo, ON: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA6Bw6Vg3xM/?igshid=1eb7z7uj2881n
- Niagara, ON: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA9CKZ-pcC2/?igshid=bdbtl2k2na1i
- Toronto, ON: https://www.blogto.com/city/2020/06/black-owned-businesses-toronto/
Follow & Support the BIPOC community! This is a list of bipoc equestrians that you should DEFINITELY be following.
5. Long-Term Strategy
Never stop speaking up! Now that justice has been attained for George Floyd, the conversation has not ended. We do not pause the conversation, and pick it back up the next time a situation or series of events like this start unravelling. Keep rooting for diversity & inclusivity. Volunteer at an organization when social distancing rules lift. Talk to a family. Continue donating. Become a mentor. Work on diversifying your own content.
Demand change in this industry! Not only do many leading equestrian brands and business, lack an immense amount of diversity & inclusivity, but there are no consequences for racism at facilities or show-grounds.
I encourage you all to tune into Heels Down Magazine’s virtual Zoom discussion on June 18th, 2020 at 6:30PM EST where they will be discussing Diversity in Horse Sports further. Click HERE to register for free in advance! I hope to see you there!
An Official Statement from Marina Layton, the founder of The Positive Equestrian.
My Dear Positive Equestrians,
My heart aches for the bipoc community at this time. I have come to recognize and acknowledge my own privilege. I truly understand that I will never understand, however, I stand. I see you, I hear you, and I stand WITH you against racism and partiality. I’ve spent this past week unlearning, listening, relearning, supporting, watching, sharing, and reflecting. I have the best of intensions but those intentions need to have an impact.
Moving forward, I will be making a much bigger effort to discuss inclusivity and diversity in the equine industry through all TPE platforms. I will elevate marginalized voices. I will stand with, always welcome, and acknowledge my bipoc individuals. This will not end tomorrow, next week, or next month – this will be a lifelong practice. I have had many amazing people and resources, to help me find my voice surrounding these incredibly important topics that need to be discussed.
I am now aware and I recognize the various issues that are deeply rooted in this industry, and continue to take place worldwide. I want to reassure ALL of you, that I will be working very hard to be a leader advocating for diversity & inclusivity in this industry.
Being an equestrian should be an option available to all, with NO negativity attached whatsoever. The Positive Equestrian was founded on positivity, ponies, and passion — three things that every equestrian should be able to enjoy, no matter their race, age, gender, religion, disability, or any other factors.
In addition to my personal initiative, I am actively working on a variety of business initiatives to continue promoting diversity and inclusivity within our industry.
The first step I am taking, is opening up the TPE Shop, and donating a portion of all my proceeds to biopic equestrian organizations.
I am beyond grateful to all of you, that my design “Equestrians Unite” has resonated with so many in our industry. This design has now become a symbol of support. You will be able to pre-order the official “Equestrians Unite” stickers, along with three other designs, on June 16th! These will be permanently available through TPE, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to bipoc equestrian organizations. You may even find a sticker or two in your orders from some of your favourite equestrian brands! Stay tuned for the official details next week.
I want to thank you for your ongoing support. I am sending love and warm hugs to you. Please stay safe, be well, and feel free to connect with me if you ever need support or you would like to chat. Tally-ho!