The New York Times, that intrepid warrior for anything and everything that the Left is hysterical about, on Friday published a lengthy piece about a source of systemic racism that no one has ever noticed before: It seems that equestrian helmets are racist because they don’t accommodate the dreadlocks that some black horse riders wear. One black rider’s mother lamented: “Mostly everything in this sport isn’t designed for us.” Well, that’s got to change, and these Jackie Robinsons of the Coiffure, with the Times’ generous help, are leading the way to the Equestrian Helmet Justice that our society so desperately needs.
Chanel Robbins, the Times tells us solemnly, “has been riding horses most of her life, ever since her grandmother traded a cow from their family’s farm in Ontario for a pony when she was 7.” Horse riding “offered an escape from thoughts that weighed on her,” which included the fact that “she was the only Black girl in the neighborhood.” But when she grew dreadlocks, her helmet didn’t fit anymore, and that, as you must know by now, is racist.
Fighting back tears (really, the Times actually said she was), Robbins said: “I finally freaking feel like myself, and now society is asking me to change. I just want to be able to ride.” How dare Whitey do this! Is there nothing to which he will not stoop? Poor Chanel Robbins can only find relief on the back of a horse from the systemic racism that confronts her every hour in Amerikkka, but now Whitey has taken even that away!
The Times generously ascribes this not to malice, but to callous indifference: “Black equestrians have long felt virtually invisible in a sport that remains overwhelmingly white. For those with natural hair, which for many is a declaration of pride and Black identity, finding a helmet that fits properly can be nearly impossible, creating yet another barrier to full inclusion.” Big Helmet (ah, but not big enough) is just as indifferent to their plight as Whitey in general: “Some are now lobbying for change, mindful that horseback riding is among the leading causes of sports-related traumatic brain injury. The helmet companies say there isn’t a simple fix.”
Well, yeah. What are the helmet companies going to do, make the helmets three feet wide? This most first-world of all first-world problems brings Oscar Gamble to mind. Baseball fans of a certain age will remember Mr. Gamble, who played major league baseball in the 1970s while sporting an Afro of truly awe-inspiring proportions. In my neighborhood, baseball cards featuring Oscar Gamble with his baseball cap stuck on the massive thing, making his head and hair look like three planets of roughly similar size orbiting in close proximity to one another, were a coveted commodity. Many marveled at his hair, some dared to laugh, but Gamble himself took it all in stride. Never once did he demand that the people who manufactured baseball caps fashion one large enough to go around his huge hair. The white kids who played baseball in the 1970s often had long hair also, and got used to having it mashed uncomfortably under the cap. In life, sometimes one must put up with a bit of discomfort, or sacrifice one desired item in order to obtain another. But that was before everything, and I do mean everything, became racist.
And so now the Times tells us that Caitlin Gooch, “who wears her hair in locs that fall to her mid-back,” takes her riding helmet along when she gets her hair done, “to ensure it will still fit.” That’s perfectly reasonable and sensible. If someone wants some extravagant hairstyle, it might cause difficulties in other areas. Sometimes one must choose between the two. But Gooch “started teaching riding lessons” and “found herself having to tell children they couldn’t ride if there was no helmet that properly fit them.” This was, once again, perfectly reasonable, but apparently it’s a new and heinously racist offense in the Times’ dizzy and ugly world.
And so the Times contacted “several prominent equestrian helmet manufacturers,” only to be told that these insensitive and no doubt white-owned corporations “were not aware that many Black riders struggled with helmet fit. Others said they recognized that it was an issue and were working to address it, while cautioning that bringing a new helmet to market is a costly undertaking that can take years.” But Helmet Justice can’t wait: the Times “spoke with nearly a dozen Black riders, several of whom described searches for properly fitting helmets that dragged on for months or even years. Some said they had been turned away from equestrian stores by employees who said they couldn’t help them. A few said they had manipulated helmets by stuffing them or cutting the lining.” Oh, the humanity!
The Times article ends on a melancholy note; Whitey isn’t going to end this Bull-Connoring of equestrian helmets anytime soon. Chauntel Smith, co-founder of CREW Urban Youth Equestrians, says putting on a helmet “is like reopening a wound every time.” Another black rider adds: “It certainly doesn’t make me feel included.” Well, that’s going to change now, and pronto. Maybe every equestrian helmet will be made to be several sizes too large, so that just in case the rider has dreadlocks, he will experience Helmet Justice. The rest of us, especially those systemically racist white riders, will have to be content with head injuries.