In the heyday of America’s Old West, roughly a fourth of the cowboys were black. But today, the world of professional bull riding, a sport rooted in ranching culture, is predominantly white.
On this episode of ‘MINORITY REPORTS,’ VICE sent Lee Adams to Texas to meet Neil Holmes and Ezekiel Mitchell—two black bull riders at different points in their careers—to find out what it’s like as a person of color trying to make it in the predominantly white world of professional bull riding. Holmes—an accomplished pro on the eve of his retirement—explains how he got into bull riding, and talks about leaving the sport as the only black pro ranked in the top 100 bull riders. Desperately trying to fill Holmes’s shoes is Mitchell, who’s struggled with the funds to travel, and has experienced racism in the sport first-hand.
We look into why one of the most popular sports in America has so few professional black athletes at its highest levels, and explore some of the barriers to entry that have made black representation difficult in the sport.