Erasing the Narrative

National Velvet, is a beautiful story of a young girl named Velvet Brown who loves horses. Velvet has such a deep love for horses that she often pretends to be riding a horse right before bed. One day, young Velvet finds a wild horse and tames him with love and determination. With the help of a youthful poor vagrant named Michael “Mi” Taylor, Velvet trains the wild horse who she calls “The Pie”, to compete in the Grand National Steeplechase. This story comes from a novel by Enid Bagnold that was first published in 1935. Later in 1944, National Velvet was adapted into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet and Mickey Rooney as Mi Taylor. The film was critically acclaimed and won two Oscars back in 1946. It is no surprise that in 2003 the United States National Film Registry chose National Velvet to be preserved for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” (Frequent).

Even though film National Velvet is a wonderful story about determination and overcoming adversity, one cannot simply overlook the whitewashing of the cast.

Mickey Rooney (front left) and Elizabeth Taylor (front row third from left) pose with other members of National Velvet Cast.

Not one single person of color was cast in this film. This It makes me wonder why this trend of not featuring the black narrative seems to come out when talking about horses.

In the book, Dark Horses and Black Beauties by author Melissa Holbrook Pierson, she too seems to feature a theme of omitting a person of color’s perspective when it comes to talking about horses. Throughout the entire book, readers see countless stories about white upper-class women owning horses. Reading these stories gives out the assumption that you must be rich and white to own a horse. This narrative excludes people of color because it assumes that they cannot afford to take care of a horse.

This assumption is simply not the case. Black people have been taking care of horses since the time when they were slaves.

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