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New York Times Makes Ludicrous Case For ‘Helmet Inclusivity’ for Black Equestrians

New York Times Makes Ludicrous Case For ‘Helmet Inclusivity’ for Black Equestrians

“For black equestrians with natural hair, finding a helmet that fits can be virtually impossible –– another barrier to inclusion in a sport that remains overwhelmingly white.”

The New York Times is hellbent on being woke until the very bitter end, but the latest example that demonstrates their dedication to The Cause may be their most “out there” yet.

In a Friday piece, reporter McKenna Oxenden wrote about the problems black equestrians with natural hair face in finding helmets that fit. The framing of the story, of course, centered around insinuations of deliberate racial discrimination and how this was supposedly one more “barrier” put in front of black competitors in the sport:

The story was a big enough deal to the editors that they included it on the front page of their Saturday print edition:

Among the black equestrians they quoted were Chanel Robbins, who eight years ago changed the way she did her hair to be more in line with her father’s, who is Jamaican. As a result, that made it harder for her to find helmets that fit. According to the Times, it upset her that “society” was allegedly asking her “to change”:

“I finally freaking feel like myself, and now society is asking me to change,” Ms. Robbins, 27, of Alliston, Ontario, said as she choked back tears. “I just want to be able to ride.”

The Times also went on to note that the sport “remains overwhelmingly white,” which is supposed to make the reader think that the lack of helmet options that would accommodate black people is purposeful:

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.

Another rider, Isabella Tillman, was said to be “horrified” by the things she says she’s had to do over the years to make her helmets work for her:

Isabella Tillman, who wears her hair in natural, buoyant curls in the summer and straightens it in the winter, is horrified when she thinks about the helmets she has used in 20 years of riding.

One sat atop her head like a traffic cone, she said. Another was so small it gave her headaches. And one was so big, she had to stuff it with maxi pads.

“Helmet inclusivity is important, Black equestrians said, because it could mean the difference between life and death,” the paper also wrote.

They also talked to helmet companies, the vast majority of who were quoted either saying they were not aware there were any issues with black riders and helmets or that maybe the riders who were having the issues needed to change their hairstyles considering a redesign could not only be costly and take a long time but also may ultimately not end up doing what an equestrian’s helmet needs to do: fit snugly in order to protect their heads:

In an interview, James Ruder, the chief executive [of Back on Track], said the company’s helmets can accommodate most riders. He added that he had “never once heard” about a Black rider struggling with helmet fit.

“If you have an ‘oddity’ — and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the people who have weird hairstyles — but if you have a hairstyle that impacts the functionality of the helmet, you might just have to change it,” Mr. Ruder said.

While this inconvenient reality check fauxfended some of the readers in Ms. Oxenden’s Twitter comment section, sanity seemed to prevail in the comments to the Times piece itself (which is now closed to new comments), with several pointing out that there was no need to make a supposed lack of “helmet inclusivity” into a racial issue, and others noting how it’s not just black people who have problems with helmets fitting sometimes.

Times reader “RRI,” for instance, wrote this comment in response to one of the riders who said she wondered if she should abandon the sport for one where she felt like she “mattered”:

That’s a bit much: abandoning a sport one loves for the sake of a hair style. And it is a hair style issue: Black hair is still Black hair, still “natural,” still proudly signifies one’s ancestry, if cut short and not straightened. It’s a fair issue to raise with manufacturers, but to intimate it is some kind of discriminatory barrier to safe participation in equestrian sports is more petulant than principled.

“M” wrote:

I too am a rider and agree that equestrian helmets could do with a reboot. However even I with straight blonde hair have to “redo it” so my helmet fits properly. So in the meantime comb your hair straight back and flat and then tie it at nape of the neck with hair tie and you should be good. I doubt any helmet maker will design a helmet to accommodate every individual hairstyle. Remember at the end of the day safety trumps style.

“Mihail Dragulin” asked:

This article is a solution in search of a problem. How did the author take a simple supply and demand problem and turn it into a inclusion, diversity and race issue??

With all due respect, clearly Mr. Dragulin doesn’t know the Times very well.

Conservative Twitter users, meanwhile, responded accordingly:

I read the Times’ tweet and article and one of the first things I thought of were the women in oppressed parts of the world who have been forced to cover themselves head to toe in order to compete in swimming competitions, and yet there are women in free societies who can choose to wear their hair any way they want to but turn around and complain—with some actually crying—when the style they’ve chosen doesn’t work in a helmet designed to save your life. Making it worse, they imply without evidence that it’s set up this way on purpose because of their skin color.

A true First World Problem if there ever was one. I agree with the others, if one has this problem when they try to put on a helmet, they should change their hairstyle before they ride. It’ll keep them much safer when they ride their horse over the mountain that some of their fellow riders have made out of a molehill.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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A premise so absurd that they had to go all the way to Canada to find somebody to give them a pull-quote. Imagine.

An unkinder person than I might point out that with the right hair products, people with “naturals” shouldn’t even NEED helmets.

“I chose to redo my hair in a way that interfered with helmets, and now helmet manufacturers are racist for not accommodating me.” What narcissism.
“I chose to install nose, face, nipple, and plumbing piercings, and MRI manufacturers (and TSA) now aren’t accommodating me.”
That’s why they’re called “choices,” princess: you choose one OR the other.

The increasingly absurd and dishonest lengths to which the vile Dumb-o-crats will stoop to contrive and conjure tales of fallacious and alleged racial victimhood and grievance are contemptible and plumb new depths of stupidity, with each passing day.

No American citizen who is attempting to survive the Dumb-o-crats’ dystopian and corrosive policies gives a damn about the supposed plight of “black equestrians.”

The Gentle Grizzly | March 5, 2023 at 10:33 am

I am suddenly given to uncontrollable fits of crying because someone can’t find a riding helmet.

Seems like a missed opportunity. Why do I have the feeling that a decade from now we won’t see a new helmet product designed by this young person with herself as the pitchman:
‘I couldn’t find a helmet that fit my needs, so I invented one that works for me and will work just as well for you’.

Helmets must fit sung in order to be effective. If the hairstyle you have chosen is bulky and interferes with the functionality of the helmet then you have a choice to make. Hairstyle or safety or build a better mousetrap. Everyone faces choices in life and all choices have consequences.

My wife has been in the horse equipment business for 30 years. We both ride. I defy anyone to find a reasonable supply of good clothing for male riders. Walk into a tack shop and ask what clothing they have for men – 0.0.

Simple fix; get a haircut

It’s sexist, too. Look at all the male football players who can get helmets to fit over their braids/dreads,

First of all, equestrian riding is really a matter of rich bs poor

It’s incredibly expensive to own a horse, train it and you properly, and then drive around the country towing your horse in a very expensive truck and
Trailer to compete.

Ever hear of helmet hair? Everyone, black or white gets it

If that’s your only problem, your living a charmed life

    guyjones in reply to gonzotx. | March 5, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    I was going to make similar points regarding the intrinsically elitist and wealthy nature of equestrian-related activities. It is quite obviously not a poor person’s pastime/sport.

    The notion that “black equestrians’ ” alleged, self-perceived, sartorial grievance/problem represent a legitimate concern that is worthy of attention and deference from working-class Americans is absurd and offensive.

    But, in the monied Dumb-o-crat salons in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, this is apparently what passes for an allegedly pressing issue of national concern, to be amplified and trumpeted in the so-called “Newspaper of record.”

    It’s utterly farcical.

      gonzotx in reply to guyjones. | March 5, 2023 at 12:35 pm

      My daughter was an equestrian for 6 years and all was good till we bought a horse..

      Drained me dry and the poor thing got kicked by a larger horse who broke his jaw, God awful, he was never the same and literally crazy, tried to kill my daughter, in the middle of a jump started bucking and when he didn’t get her off rammed her into the Side of the arena.
      Don’t know how she stayed on

      Sold him back to the person who sold him to me, gave her full disclosure, but she loved him and only sold him cause of a divorce, so it was a win win.
      I couldn’t sale him in good faith to anyone else.

        guyjones in reply to gonzotx. | March 5, 2023 at 12:43 pm

        Wow, that’s a wild story. Glad the poor guy ended up okay (the horse, LOL). And, your wallet was no worse for wear, at the end of the day.

        I learned English Saddle riding as a kid spending summers on Long Island. It was a lot of fun, for sure, but, we left the horse boarding and feeding to the stable. Ownership is a whole other level of financial and time commitment.

          gonzotx in reply to guyjones. | March 5, 2023 at 3:16 pm

          True that, you can lease a horse or half lease, some will let you out of medical, which is primo, but often you are also liable for that, ie broken jaw, 9 months rehab, daily antibiotics by syringe … lots of things can happen to a horse, wrong feed and they flounder….

          Healthy as a horse is a misnomer

Vs, but in someways maybe it’s all bs

Stacey Matthew: The story was a big enough deal to the editors that they included it on the front page of their Saturday print edition

That’s fairly standard. The New York Times often has a sports or entertainment article on the left below the fold. Today, it’s “Suspense at the Movies: What a Seat Will Cost.”

Here’s an interesting case of systemic bias, this time in color film:

We may not respond to replies to our comment as Legal Insurrection is shadow banning our posts.

    gonzotx in reply to Zachriel. | March 5, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    Actually I posted something and I checked and lo and Behold, someone took it off, wasn’t vulgar, violent or rude.. lest just say a different perspective on the topic..

I want a riding helmet to fit my Mohawk!!

I’m pretty sure that if some company came out with a helmet modified to accept Big Hair, it would not be long before activists were after them for “providing a substandard helmet to people of certain aggrieved races”.
And if there should ever be an injury, well the sky is the limit for damages.
(See: “Floyd,G, estate of”.)

Bicycle helmets. Those pointy-ended supposedly aerodynamic Lance Armstrong helmets the local touring-bike jocks wear. Try stuffing a dreadlocks into one of those helmets. The stoner-looking cliff climbers with muscles made of stringy beef jerky? They sometimes wear skullcap helmets over ponytails.

    puhiawa in reply to Tiki. | March 5, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    The Equestrian helmet is not merely for safety, riders are judged for their appearance as well as they post. The equipment must sport the proper English look.

      henrybowman in reply to puhiawa. | March 5, 2023 at 1:50 pm

      “It is better to look good than to feel good, you know what I mean?” — Fernando
      Guess you have to make a CHOICE as to whether you prefer to optimize your looks without a helmet or with one.
      Thank heavens my riding is as “sport free” as my walking. I ride horses, I wear clothes. Other than making sure my boot has a safe heel, there’s zero intersection between them.

I think the NYT is trying to grab some of the Babylon Bee’s readers.

Buy a cowboy hat. They’ll fit anybody and people have been using them for years. How many riding helmets do you see during a rodeo? The only time I see anybody wear a brain bucket is when my neighbor has one of her students “trail riding” along our road.

    henrybowman in reply to txvet2. | March 5, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    I never used one for my own riding (too large a head, no sarc), but if you offer trail rides or instruction, lots of states have laws that guests/students have to have them.

    gonzotx in reply to txvet2. | March 5, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    They use them all the time in the rodeos now

LukeHandCool | March 5, 2023 at 1:07 pm

The most First World of all First World problems.

    guyjones in reply to LukeHandCool. | March 6, 2023 at 8:46 am

    Exactly. The level of elitist tone-deafness displayed by this New York Times article is off-the-charts. No working-class man or woman attempting to stay financially afloat under the Dumb-o-crats’ crushing inflation, taxation and war on U.S. domestic fossil fuel production gives a damn about the alleged, self-perceived sartorial grievances/complaints of a bunch of wealthy “black equestrians” engaged in an inherently wealthy and elitist sport/pastime.

If one goes to YouTube it is easy to find videos of black equestrians, and Western riders as well. It did not seem particularly hard for one to have pulled her hair back into a ponytail so as to fit the helmet in order to post.
Just like Polynesian football players. The fact is that every single sport requires some accommodation for dress and equipment.

You could make the same stupid conclusion about any activity that requires a helmet, because a big wad of hair doesn’t fit in any reasonable helmet.

Motorcyclists are Racist.
Military pilots are Racist. (although they would laugh at any idiot who said s/he couldn’t wear a helmet because of a big wad of hair.)
Football is racist.
Bicycling is racist.
Skiing is racist.
Batting is racist.

My daughter has big, long blonde hair, but she always managed to tie it back into a pony tail to fit in her helmet. She flew F-16s, and you don’t do that without a (very expensive) helmet!

Last February, The NY Times reported that Seattle dropped its bike helmet laws “amid racial social justice concerns.”

So, the message is clear, the end of February and early March is helmet season at The NY Times.

    Old Navy Doc in reply to jolanthe. | March 5, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    Looks like either Darwinian selection or class action lawyers will prevail in the Pacific NorthLeft. Break out the popcorn.

    BobM in reply to jolanthe. | March 6, 2023 at 10:20 am

    So Black Lives Matter unless you are a black bicycle rider in Seattle?
    Bike helmets save lives.
    Why is Seattle so racist?

    In my neighborhood a child died when his bike and a car interacted and his unhelmeted head met pavement. Later I took my sisters two kids helmet shopping (wanted to make sure they liked them enuf to wear them). Later yet my niece broke her helmet riding – instead of her head. Money well spent.

Capitalist-Dad | March 5, 2023 at 3:33 pm

Riding helmets are supposed to prevent brain injuries, but since this person is a leftist it seems like the helmet is optional—the damage it seeks to prevent already having taken place.

BierceAmbrose | March 5, 2023 at 4:04 pm

“…one of the first things I thought of … to compete in swimming competition…”

i went to swimming before even reading this. Male swimmers were notorious for shaving their whole bodies, back when that was more weird than these days. Some claimed it reduced drag from turbulence. More impact came from a more subtle “feel for the water”, worth a couple fractions of a second.

Unless you are Phelps, or Marc Spitz: they win everything because they are mutants, or perhaps genetic throwbacks, better adapted to life in the water than the rest of us.

BierceAmbrose | March 5, 2023 at 4:06 pm

I, myself, am offended and discriminated against by all the requirements for equestrian success.

Like, I need to get on horses from time to time, and learn to ride. What’s up with that. That’s not who I am. I’m the guy on the horse jumping medal stand, without actually even riding a horse.

It’s what I want. Make it so.

I’m still laughing at this,
She isn’t black, she is mixed race.

Suburban Farm Guy | March 5, 2023 at 11:35 pm

I’ll take a ride to Beverly Hills
Just before dawn
And knock the little jockeys off the rich people’s lawns

Let me check…nope, not 1 April as I thought there was never a chance in the world this would be a story in the NYT.

This sort of begs the question doesn’t it?

This could almost be taken from a SNL skit!!
“I want to wear my hair in a giant ‘poof-Afro,’ so Ford and GM need toe redesign their vehicles to fit my foot tall hairdo!”
As a pro-lfe advocate, there are some folks that almost make the case for retroactive abortion

Seems like a budding entrepreneur would rush in and fill this tremendous void in the equestrian world. Funny how nobody ever seems to want to take advantage of these seemingly tremendous needs that the left keeps pointing out.

    henrybowman in reply to Durwood. | March 7, 2023 at 1:45 am

    This is funny, because Jeremy Boreing did a version of this:

    After a Twitter account with two followers complained about Daily Wire host Michael Knowles discussing his views on gender dysphoria, Harry’s [Razors] quickly moved to pull their ads from The Daily Wire.

    “Harry’s immediately, of course, had to virtue-signal and say, ‘Oh, we had no idea — we’re shocked, shocked, I tell you, to discover that people we’re paying to help us reach a conservative audience have conservative views,’” Boreing mocked. “They called those views ‘inexcusable,’ said that there was ‘values misalignment’ between our two companies, and immediately pulled $80,000 worth of advertising off of Michael Knowles’ show.”

    “And at that very moment, I knew we had to launch a razor company,” he asserted.

Having a HUGE head is also a problem in finding a helmet! Having a tiny little pointed head like gnome presents a problem as well! Does that make sense?? When this guy at work would say – multiple time per week – “that don’t make no sense” I’d tell him “If everything made sense MEN would ride horses sidesaddle”!