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This black woman jumps into history and forgets | Sports

Youngstown, Ohio — On an average June 1971 morning at the Thistledown Racecourse in North Randall, Ohio, an average bay filly named Ace Rewards broke from the gate. But still, the stands were full and the finish line was full of news crew.

It was Cheryl White who was sitting across the Ace Rewards. Cheryl White soon became the country’s first licensed black female jockey in her first official race. After an ambitious sprint, the mare finally died. The crowd barked anyway.

White was in the process of making history. And she was just 17 years old.

Fifty years later, on average morning, another Ohio track, White’s name reappeared on the leaderboard. This time it was a race to honor her. She died of a heart attack in 2019 at the age of 65.

However, I had never heard of her former name in the thin crowd holding her head at the Thoroughbred at the Mahoning Valley Racecourse here. Little attention was paid when her family stepped into the winner’s circle to hand over the Cheryl White commemorative trophy to the winning jockey.

A single-minded black teenager’s intention for the glory of the racetrack was a phenomenon of her time, interviewed in newspapers and television, and featured on the hit quiz show “What’s My Line.” Karl escaped from her helmet, shining light on the cover of the July 29, 1971 edition of Jet magazine, and the headline splattered on the horse’s chest. “A teenage girl breaks the racetrack barrier.”

“I just wanted to open those gates,” White told Bet Chicago reporters about the day in June 1971, shortly before his death. She meant a starting gate. White opened a lot more for those who saw her ride.

But today, White’s story is not about a permanent victory, but about continuous alienation. In a sport that has historically set both aside, the girl whose horse hooves have broken the path between women and blacks is virtually unknown. And, according to White’s own estimates, her achievements (a career of more than 20 years included 750 victories in several areas) are almost forgotten.

If you search for Jockey Cheryl White on Google, you’ll see a photo of another black female jockey Sylvia Harris next to her name. GoFundMe page created by White’s brother Raymond Jr. — to honor the “True American Legend”. It has the foundation to support riders of other colors — raised just over $ 2,100 in two years.

It’s devastating for White’s family, who embarked on a mission to regain her position in the glorious history of thoroughbred racing.

“I’ve heard about icons and whenever she’s not mentioned, I don’t know why,” said her nephew Raymond White III. “I hesitate to think that it is rooted in racism. It feels like a cheesy answer, but that’s the answer.”

“Her talent was huge”

White’s carrier was comfortable and studded with the first one. Immediately after test-driving the Ace Rewards, the Race Steward awarded White the coveted jockey license. That September, Railbird in Waterford Park, West Virginia, couldn’t be the first black woman to win a race, with a 5-foot-3,107-pound high school student straddling a chestnut gelding called Jetrara. I witnessed the vision. America.

Her riding career spanned 20 years. With 227 wins and $ 762,624 blood horse riding income, she moved to California in the mid-1970s and later started Appaloosa Horse Racing County Fairsports.

According to racing historians, White worked as a racing steward in California after the injury was forced to retire in the early 90’s, perhaps becoming the first black woman to play that role in the state. She was the first woman to win the Jockey of the Year Award at the Appaloosa Horse Club. He won the award not only once but four times separately and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

These narrow praises aren’t inscribed in public awareness with great figures like track star Jackie Joyner-Kursey and tennis star Serena Williams, but why White’s name was destroyed by Google. It doesn’t satisfy her fans, friends and family who are having a hard time understanding it was almost forgotten in the thoroughbred race. Even the glass trophy, which her family was invited to present at her commemorative race, was misspelled.

For certain reasons, White went from disgust to self-promotion, with a nasty personality and a quick temper like a mare kick, but even practical. It was a short time, and as she said in an interview, she felt that her race and gender made it even more difficult to get a high quality mount.

But above all, they feel that there is a problem with systematic problems. “It wasn’t a lack of talent. Her talent was huge,” said Jessica Whitehead, curator of the Kentucky Derby Museum collection. Temporary exhibition of female jockeys. “It was a lack of opportunity.”

White was a slow and slow sports athlete who not only fully admitted women, but also celebrated the contributions of blacks.

The black jockey was riding 13 of the 15 horses that participated in the first Derby in 1875. Going back further, the entire industry was based on enslaved black labor. Many were purchased from West Africa, especially for their riding skills to become riders, trainers and grooms.

In the early days of American racing, owners ran with the people who owned their horses.

“There is a lot to do”

In modern times, blacks and women make up a very small proportion of sports. Only 7% of the 950 active members are women, according to data maintained by the Jockeys Guild, a union that represents more than 95% of North American jockeys. The guild does not ask about ethnicity or race in its membership application.

Guild President and CEO Terence Mayox has blamed the lack of black jockeys in an isolated way for many riders to participate in the sport. It is often passed down to families, with few black racing families in the first place.

The Jockey Club, which oversees pedigree registration, has no blacks out of 126 members and only four colored people out of 261 employees.

According to Meyocks, sports diversification is not the responsibility of the institution, but the responsibility of women and blacks who have succeeded in paving the way. It’s up to them to be heroes and role models, “he said.

The changes underway in other sports such as baseball and basketball, where teams join boycotts and remove names and mascots that are considered offensive, have rarely begun in horse racing.

“Horse racing thinks a lot just because of how the sport began and how important enslaved Africans were to the development of the sport,” Whitehead said. “As in our country as a whole, there is a lot of untappedness that must be done from decades, decades, decades of misinformation and suppression of certain stories.”

As the social justice movement has swept the country over the past year, the industry is slowly changing.

This year, the Jockey Club awarded the first college scholarship assigned to minority students seeking to enter the thoroughbred industry. In April, the Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky expanded a 42-square-foot exhibit of black contributions to the race, adding a live show where reenactors take spectators from West Africa to racetracks to modern protests. Did. This year, at least one race has been renamed in honor of a black man racing.

At Churchill Downs, where the derby takes place, Pierre Bellock’s murals depict all the jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby. Also on display is a portrait of William Walker, who was born into slavery and became a prominent rider.

But the omission is still obvious. On Derby Day, Kendrick Carmouch became the first black rider in the race since 2013. In the race from 1921 to 2000, there were no black jockeys.

And at Churchill Downs, Thoroughbred Barbaro bronze stands at full speed and the jockey hits the studs. Nearby is another sprinting statue built in 1987. Aristides, the horse that won the first derby in 1875.

His jockey, the black man Oliver Lewis, is missing.

The struggle to raise White’s profile deepened the family’s awareness of her talent as well as her father’s talent: Raymond Sr. began her career as a trainer in 1927 and had many bleachers. And back stretch lasted throughout the time when it was separated. In 1932, as a trainer, he boarded a derby horse. This is the first of the two horses.

“The blacks at the time were able to clean up horse junk, walk horses, and do sneaky jobs. You weren’t in charge of investing in anyone,” Cheryl’s nephew said. Nikki White, who is married to one of them, Raymond III, said. “And he had a horse in the derby and a horse in Preakness-it pays the level of respect that the people of color didn’t come back at the time.”

Career paths were often at a loss. Raymond Sr., who married a white woman, often named her wife as the owner of the horse to avoid controversy. When Cheryl was born, in 1953, her parents agreed that her father would not join her mother in the hospital, so no one knew she was married to a black man. His son Raymond Jr. said he wrote “white” on the birth certificate of the child during the race to protect his daughter. After her death, White scattered her mother’s ashes on each leg of the triple crown.

As she grew up, Cheryl faced internalized racism — she hated her being a “bad” or textured hair brother — and outside: when she got on. Sometimes she heard a slur as the horse sprinted.

After a commemorative race in Youngstown, Cheryl’s brother Raymond Jr. left the winner’s circle and picked up his phone. On top of that, there was a post that a friend had previously forwarded to him from Instagram. Among them, a 6-year-old black girl named Madison Jade Strickland is posing in the purple Jodhpurs, a hot pink equestrian helmet by her side.

Some of the captions say, “I’m often asked how Maddy started riding. It all started when she watched Cheryl White’s video.”

This black woman jumps into history and forgets | Sports

Source link This black woman jumps into history and forgets | Sports

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