Cover Photo: Illustration by Lindsay Stripling for Catapult
Illustration by Lindsay Stripling for Catapult

A New Definition of the Term “Cowboy” Can’t Change Its Legacy

There are cowboys out there who echo the conquering-the-west narrative, one of entitlement and legacy and what he is owed.

This is Why-oming, a column by Jenny Tinghui Zhang that explores life as a woman of color in Wyoming, one of the whitest and loneliest places in the United States.


Last December, when my upstairs neighbor was out of town, I received a Facebook message from her boyfriend around 11 p.m. “I’m watching A’s cat while she’s away,” it said. “Want to come up and have a beer?”

It’s late at night, I don’t know this guy, I’m alone, I shouldn’t.

He really needs my help, so I should help.


Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming, is a 2016 VONA/Voices alumna, and a participant of the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Rumpus, with essays in Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a prose editor for The Adroit Journal and is working on a novel. Find her at