What My Relationship with Horses Taught Me About Racism in America

This post was originally published on Facebook and republished with the author, Camille Brown’s permission.

I am the Program Director at an organization called CORRAL. We work with middle and high school girls involved in the Juvenile Justice System. This is a note I wrote about the protests in Minneapolis. It is my small response to a really big problem.

What sets CORRAL apart from a lot of organizations is we use horses to facilitate Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. We use a therapy modality called Natural Lifemanship to teach our girls solid and strong relationship principles. A lot of these principles have to do with the different ways we react and respond to pressure. We teach the girls that if someone is cooperating with you, you should probably release your pressure. If someone is resisting you, if they’re searching for an answer, it’s important to remain with your pressure. To stay cool, calm, and collected. And if someone ignores you? You should increase your pressure to get their attention. What I see in Minneapolis is a group of people who are tired of being ignored. A group of people who are increasing their pressure… because their country is ignoring them.

Martin Luther King said “A riot is the language of the unheard.” If you are white you cannot understand what it is like to be systematically unheard and unseen. In classrooms, in public policy, in the media, in churches, in the tiniest town hall to the highest levels of government. I am white. And I do not know what it feels like to be ignored over and over and over again. 

We teach another relationship principal at CORRAL. Passivity breeds aggression. Are the protesters in Minneapolis breaking the law? Yeah. They’re breaking the law.  But I hold the government accountable for their passivity. They are passive in the matters of race and terrorism in this country. Their passivity has cost hundreds and thousands of black Americans their very lives. White people are complicit in this. Our passivity has created a breeding ground for this aggression. 

If I had black skin and my country said, with their inaction, that my black skin was cause for police and citizens to be judge, jury, and executioner with no trial? I would riot too. 

If reading this makes you defensive or angry…I urge you to lean into that. Think. Why does it make you so angry? Why does it make you defensive? What would it cost you to spend just a few minutes imagining what it might’ve been like to be George Floyd? Imagine leaving a store and then being thrown to the ground, the life slowly leaving your body with a knee on your neck. Humanity and dignity long gone, as you plead for your life. 

What would it cost you to try and extend some empathy and even think just for a moment…what must it be like to be a black person in America? 

We will not lose out as white people if we admit that the color of our skin has made life easier for us. We will not lose out if we allow space for the people of color in this country to catch up. You don’t have to condone the protests. You don’t have to approve of the riots. But see if you can close your eyes for a moment and understand them. That would be a good step. 

About Camille Brown: Camille is a believer, activist, and mother. She is also the Program Director at CORRAL Riding Academy, a non-profit organization that pairs high risk girls with rescued horses to facilitate life changing learning, healing, and growth. Pictured here with CORRAL super pony Alchemy.


One thought on “What My Relationship with Horses Taught Me About Racism in America

  1. Thank you. We each need to be clear about the privileges that come with doing nothing more than being white. I wonder if each of us looked in the mirror tomorrow morning and saw a black face staring back at us. Not one thing had changed but the color of our skin…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s