In what may represent one of the most rapid shifts in racial attitudes in recent U.S. history, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that a broad majority of Americans now believe that both the police and society as a whole are beset by systemic racism — a messaging victory for the Black Lives Matter movement and the related protests that have roiled the nation.
In the equestrian world, it can be easy to imagine ourselves outside of the current national conversations about race. After the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers, many thousands of people have come out to peacefully protest police brutality and to demand justice. It is important to note that our sport is not normally a nexus for discussions about race or systemic injustice, but we believe it should be.
All of us in the equestrian industry have a responsibility to stand against racism wherever it shows. It is lurking in the corners of many aspects of society, and it is not absent from show rings and stables across the country. Our sport has traditionally been associated with the white upper class, and, as such, has a history fraught with racial injustices and exclusion.
Representation matters, and Equestrian Living will work to increase coverage of diverse riders, business owners, and horse professionals found in our pages. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.
US Equestrian, the governing body of horse sport in America, has addressed this issue as well, and it has an excellent statement and a great list of resources:
US Equestrian’s statement to members
|Dear Equestrian Community,|
The protests and political unrest ignited by the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis have dominated the news throughout the world and motivated hundreds of thousands – including many of our employees – to protest peacefully against racial injustice. This has been a difficult and emotional time, and we wanted to share with you the steps US Equestrian is taking to listen, learn, and do more.
Last Tuesday, US Equestrian participated in #BlackoutTuesday and issued the following statement:
|We pause in solidarity and support of the black members of our community. We are committed to listening and learning from you. We hear you. We stand with you. We can and will do better. Black lives matter. #BlackoutTuesday|
|We are energized by the overwhelming amount of support from this community for Black equestrians and your desire for us to do more. We believe it is important to be very clear: Black lives matter to US Equestrian. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind and are taking steps to further educate our staff and create a more inclusive and diverse community for all staff and participants.|
| 1. Educating ourselves is the first step. Going forward, every employee will be required to take Diversity and Inclusion training, as well as Unconscious Bias training, each year.|
As we work to schedule these trainings, there are many resources immediately available to our entire equestrian community. We are asking our employees and encouraging our members to take some time and utilize the resources below to educate themselves on the history and importance of these issues.
The Inclusion Playbook
•The Inclusion Playbook is a Sports Impact project led by a civil rights advocate and former Division 1 athlete with the goal of empowering social change agents to transform communities in and through sports.
•The Inclusion Playbook is hosting a series of free webinars this summer, beginning this week on June 11 at 2pm ET with “Olympic Impact: Emerging Issues in Sports Diversity & Inclusion.” We encourage all staff to attend. They are free: https://www.inclusionplaybook.com/webinar.
•Podcasts (Listed alphabetically)
•1619 (New York Times)
•Code Switch (National Public Radio)
•Young Black Equestrians
Books (Listed alphabetically)
•Between The World And Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
•I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
•The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Michelle Alexander)
•So You Want To Talk About Race (Ijeoma Oluo)
•White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo)
•Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (Beverly Daniel Tatum)
Film and Television (Listed alphabetically)
•Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise (Buy/rent on YouTube or Prime)
•I Am Not Your Negro•Owned: A Tale of Two Americas (stream free on Tubi; buy/rent on YouTube or Prime)•Systemic Racism Explained (YouTube)
•Teach Us All (Netflix)
Organizations Leading the Way (sampling of organizations leading the discussion, listed alphabetically)
•American Civil Liberties Union
•Annie E. Casey Foundation
•Black Lives Matter
•National Urban League
•Read 2 Succeed
•Showing Up for Racial Justice
What You Can Do to Drive Change
•Contact your state and federal representatives (find out who they are via Common Cause)
•Contact your local government officials and representatives (city councils, mayors, superintendents, etc.)
•Support for talking to kids about racism (National Geographic; New York Times)
•Vote! Check voter registration status
2. Board approval and implementation of a US Equestrian Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement and Action Plan. Over the past several months, Ashley Swift, a dedicated member of our Communications Department, has been leading this work and her recommendations will be presented to the Board of Directors at the Mid-Year Meeting. There will be opportunities for members and staff of US Equestrian to engage with and contribute to this program.
3. Increased communication to members on US Equestrian’s commitment to do its part to fight against racism. This includes providing members with educational resources – including training on Diversity and Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias – and ways to work to end racism. We know we cannot do this alone, but we can – and will – do our part.
| We understand this is an emotional and difficult time for many. Remember, US Equestrian paid fan and competing members have access 24/7 to a mental health first aid hotline at 1-800-633-3353. Please do not hesitate to reach out and take advantage of these free services.|
Thank you all for your efforts to spread the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible, and for advancing our goal of increasing diversity in equestrian sport through an educated and open equestrian community.
Chief Executive Officer