Like in many other predominantly white sports, Black people have been surfing for ages. Since the 1940s, there have been a number of Black surfers redefining the sport in the United States, carving out a space that was typically devoid of actual diversity.
Though Black surfers are not as popular in America, the art of Black surfing isn’t new. Editor of The Surfer’s Journal Scott Hulet told Boston’s NPR news station that Africans in Ghana, Senegal and Angola have been surfing on their stomachs for centuries. To change the narrative in the US, organizations like the Black Surfers Collective (BSC) are cultivating and educating a new generation of Black surfers.
Take American names like Nick Gabaldón, Larry Bertlemann and Mary Mills, for example — they should all be more widely known, but they aren’t. The legendary Nick Gabaldón was characteristically the Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice of the surfing world. Despite relative obscurity, his legacy and the legacy of the other aforementioned Black surfers live on through the work of the BSC.
The BSC grew out of the Black Surfing Association (BSA).
“We branched off in order to serve the community more effective,” BSC founder Greg and Marie Rachal said in an interview with Blavity.
Founded between 2011 and 2012, the organization quickly grew in popularity for its commitment to giving back and conserving beaches. Throughout the year, volunteers teach young locals from the Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA, areas how to surf. Events like their Pan African Beach Days, held every second Sunday of the summer season, and their beach camps, which invite young people to surf and hang out, are opportunities to raise more awareness about surfing and its history within the Black community.
Read more at Blavity.