Saturday, June 6, 2020

All parts of me

Kristian Beverly is one of my favorite tack makers and bloggers. This post was published on her website earlier today, and she has graciously allowed me to share it here. I hope everyone takes the time to read this. Thank you, Kristian.

All Parts of Me

by Kristian Beverly

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 thirteen or fourteen 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.
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 anti-racist 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.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you Kristian for this *beautifully* worded post! Thank you Jennifer for posting it!

    I have so many thoughts running through my head right now---but this is not my blog so I won't elaborate here!
    The one thing I really *hope* will change is that they WILL enact laws that will change how we go forward from here---Otherwise, all the protest and destruction would have been for NOTHING!
    The only thing I had a little trouble with was Kristian feeling that if it was said that "ALL lives matter" that it trivialized "Black lives matter" Not necessarily! I'm *still* outraged that a mentally ill person was allowed to shoot & kill 4-5 year old BABIES -and *nothing* was done to be SURE that it doesn't occur again!
    Yes! In that aspect, ALL lives DO matter!

    However, I understand where she's coming from too! The POLICE are NOT the enemy! They (like our Government officials) are to "serve & protect ALL citizens! In that aspect, YES, Black lives matters just as much as everyone else and are due the process of the law just as everyone else!
    To me, racism is a multi sided tho! We ALL have it to some degree! There's NO law that can change a person's heart--that sometimes takes a higher power and that person's willingness to be changed!
    What can I do?? Like Kristian, Every thing I can to educate myself and then work to make this world a *better* place for those coming behind me!
    Thanks Jennifer for letting me have a say!

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    1. " In that aspect, YES, Black lives matters just as much as everyone else and are due the process of the law just as everyone else!" No. Black lives matter just as much as "everyone else" in EVERY RESPECT.

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  2. I’m paraphrasing from a post I saw the other day but...if you were troubled and you went to your spouse and asked “do you love me?” And the answer was “well, I love everyone” that may be correct but it is cruel.

    If you say “my dad died” and you heard back “well all parents die” that is likewise, true but insensitive and cruel.

    That is the message you send by saying “all lives matter” technically true, but white lives (which is what people mean by “all” in most cases) have not had the centuries of systemic abuse and oppression that the black community has had to endure and I’m sorry you did not take that away from Kristen’s post.

    These are difficult things to think about as they make us uncomfortable and they make us feel bad about ourselves and no one likes to think they might be a bad person, even unintentionally. But without these uncomfortable thoughts, we will never change the status who and that desperately needs to change.

    I hope that whoever you are, since you chose to be anonymous, think about this more and try to look at it objectively instead of viewing it as a personal attack on any level.

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  3. And, ooof, sorry Kristian, my phone only knows Kristens, apparently.

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  4. *Gasp*!! Oh NO! *This!* This is the reason that if I do post anywhere, I chose to do so as "anonymous"
    As mentioned, this is JENNIFER BUXTON's blog! I do NOT want cause ANY trouble or issues just because I expressed an opinion! I was *trying* NOT to be excessively "wordy" and TRULY, did *not* think that what I said would be construed as cruel and insensitive--and for that--I sincerely apologize! I AM SORRY!! That was NOT my intention!!
    OF COURSE!! OF COURSE! Black people deserve RESPECT! I never meant imply that they *didn't*!
    However, Dr. Steggy--seeing as you *don't* know if I'm white, black, polka dot, purple, Asian or Hispanic -please *don't* assume that (one) that I was offended (I *wasn't*) and (2nd)what I gleaned from what Kristian wrote! I *might* have understood a LOT more than you think I did!
    With that, I'd really like to be done with this! This is 1st and foremost a MODEL HORSE blog--I'd like to stay on that topic!
    And again JENNIFER--I apologize! I really didn't mean to be insensitve and/or offensive!

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  5. It does not matter if you are pink, purple or Asian. The message still stands.

    What you are putting out here suggests that no, you did not understand the message and the doubling down does not help your case.

    It is a model horse blog, but these issues exist in our lily white hobby and they do need to be addressed. It is an important topic in our hobby and ignoring it does not make it better. All the things I said before about being uncomfortable apply.

    If only it were as simple as being able to say oh it’s just models and I can ignore it-that is your privilege showing.

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  6. The problem with saying "All lives matter" is that although it sounds well meaning, it downplays serious societal issues. All lives won't matter until Black Lives Matter.

    Also, I get a little annoyed when people say they don't care if people are "black, white, pink, purple or polka dot." No one is pink, purple or polka dot, except maybe Tiffany Purdy. Again, I don't believe this is deliberately mean spirited, but it's a deflection.

    As for this being a model horse blog... It is, but it's not just a model horse blog. The top item on the sidebar reads: Horses. Art. Life. The Life posts are as much a part of the Braymere blog as the tack tips, live show reports and pictures of Jose.

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