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Remembering Cheryl White, the Initially Black Woman Jockey


The battle to increase White’s profile has deepened the family’s appreciation of not just her talents, but her father’s: Raymond Sr. began his career as a horse coach in 1927, and persisted around the program of an period when a lot of bleachers and backstretches were being segregated. In 1932 as a trainer, he entered a horse in the Derby — his to start with of two.

“Black folks back again then were equipped to clean up horse crap and wander horses and do the menial jobs. You weren’t in charge of somebody’s expense,” stated Nikki White, who is married to one particular of Cheryl’s nephews, Raymond III. “And he had horses in the Derby and he experienced horses in the Preakness — that will take a degree of regard that men and women of coloration did not get back then.”

The job path was typically fraught. Married to a white lady, Raymond Sr. frequently shown his spouse as the owner of his horses to steer clear of controversy. When Cheryl was born in 1953, her parents agreed her father would not be part of her mom at the medical center so no 1 would know she was married to a Black person. On her child’s birth certification, less than race, she wrote “white” in an effort to defend her daughter, her son Raymond Jr. said. Just after her death, White scattered her mother’s ashes at each leg of the Triple Crown.

As she grew up, Cheryl faced equally internalized racism — she loathed that she was the 1 sibling with “bad,” or textured hair, her brother said — and external: When she rode, at times she listened to slurs as her horses galloped by.

At the begin of her vocation, even with her expertise, she experienced hassle obtaining mounts. Her to start with big breaks came, by necessity, on her father’s own horses. “They cannot really say it’s knowledge,” White mentioned to a reporter in 1971, expressing irritation at the absence of rides offered to her just after she’d acquired her license. “It has to be possibly the simple fact that I’m a girl or the fact I’m black.”

However as her star rose, White seemed at pains to assert that, even in the era of the women’s liberation motion and rising Black political and social prominence, she was not striving to make a statement. She was there to journey.

“First black lady jockey waves no Banners — just rides,” reads a 1972 headline in The Los Angeles Periods.



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