I love Hidden Figures-style studies in cultures that are under-served, because they deserve more time and attention. I had first heard of the Compton Cowboys group early last year, and immediately went into record-scratch. Wait, what? An urban landscape like Compton has Black cowboys? I immediately desired the book and purchased it last summer. But I just got around to reading it now, because I’ve been hoarding books like no tomorrow.
It’s more accurate to call this book an ethnography than a history, because it delves more closely into the culture, members, traditions, and conflicts than the history of the group (although origins are alluded to). The Compton Cowboys are not without their share of trials, whether familial or economic, but it is a love of horses and community that bring them together. In 2018, their mentor Mayisha has decided to retire. Her nephew Randy has taken over and immediately decided on changes that may lose them donors. Throughout this main conflict, we get to know many of the cowboys and their families, as well as the reasons they were drawn to ranching and horses in the first place.
I greatly enjoyed learning about the Compton Cowboys, and I hope Walter Thompson-Hernandez delves further into other unknown subcultures. I also am curious to know how the cowboys are doing and if they can make a go of their shift in direction. This is a must-read for fans of ethnography and sociology/anthropology.