How This Philly Resident’s Field Hockey And Lacrosse League is Expanding Horizons for Black Youth

Founder and CEO of Eyekonz Field Hockey and Lacrosse, Jazmine A. Smith is a mother, former athlete, coach and businesswoman dedicated to inspiring young Black and Latinx kids to be their very best. The program was created to serve the needs of inner-city girls and boys from kindergarten up to high school living in the greater Philadelphia area. Currently, they have sports programs in 14 schools around Philadelphia.

Lacrosse and field hockey aren’t sports known for their racial diversity. Lacrosse, a team sport where players try to throw a rubber ball into a netted goal using a netted stick, only has two Black players out of the 171 listed on the 2019 online roster for its six major league teams. Though white players dominate the sport, Native American tribes actually shaped and sculpted the game. Field hockey, on the other hand, is comprised of two opposing teams that use sticks curved to hit a small, hard ball into their opponent’s goal. Similar to lacrosse, the sport does not have many Black players. In addition to introducing diverse young athletes to field hockey and lacrosse, Eyekonz also provides a fun way to stay active and get fit.

Read the entire story on Blavity. 

6 Black Surfers Throughout History That You Should Know About

Since the iconic Black surfer, Nick Gabaldón broke barriers surfing at Santa Monica Beach in the late 1940s,  generations of Black surfers have followed his legacy into the ocean. The problem is that the world has yet to learn about their impact. Black men and women have left their mark on the surfing world by challenging preconceived notions and using the sport as a way to deal with personal traumas and creatively express themselves. Here are some of the dopest Black surfers from past to present.

1. Nick Gabaldón


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The legend of Nick Gabaldón, Santa Monica’s famed #lifeguard #waterman continues to shine on today as the first documented #surfer of African/Mexican-American descent, which includes a landmark monument to him at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk in #SantaMonica #California. He first started surfing at #InkwellBeach in the ’40s, a beach whose very existence was the result of Jim Crow segregation and whose name was derogatorily derived. Despite this, the name was reclaimed as a badge of pride and during the high season, hundreds of African-Americans from throughout Southern California socialized, enjoyed the ocean breezes and swam at the Inkwell because they experienced less racial harassment there than at other area beaches. From there, Nick would paddle #12milesnorth up the coast (and back) to #Malibu where he found the perfect wave and was embraced by the mere handful of surfers who surfed there, white and Latino, who til this day, speak of his untimely passing with great pain because he was so beloved. It was a day when there was a big swell and in a freak accident, he got caught in the pier. He died at the tender age of 24 in 1951 and left an indelible impression. Not only was he an awesome pioneer as a surfer, but his story reveals surfing’s oft-forgotten counter-culture roots, where the local surfers’ unquestionable embrace of him into their fold, reveals how they rebelled and resisted the ignorance & oppressions of the status quo on-land. Celebrating #Blackhistorymonth #NickGabaldon #Gabaldon #surf #surfhistory #blacksurfers #mexicansurfers

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Probably the most recognizable Black surfer in history, Nick Gabaldón was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers and paving the way for future Black wave riders. He was born on February 23, 1927, in Los Angeles, California to a Black mother and Mexican father. During the height of segregation, the surfing icon taught himself how to master the waves. Although the segregated part of Santa Monica State Beach — known as “The Inkwell”— was essentially his playground, Gabaldón also surfed predominantly white beaches along the California coast. His presence aided in desegregation, but at the age of 24, Gabaldón lost control of his surfboard and died.

Read more at Blavity. 

How The Black Surfers Collective Is Cultivating New Black Wave Riders

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. 

 

The Impact Of Gentrification On Gullah-Geechee Culture In South Carolina

Gentrification is a dirty word tied to the increasing number of young, white adults moving into urban areas. They often push out older Black residents due to higher rent. However, gentrification isn’t limited to cities — it’s also rampant in the Gullah-Geechee Corridor, the coastal region of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

One of the lasting remnants of the Atlantic slave trade is the Gullah Geechee. They are the descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans who made barrier islands their home following their emancipation in 1865. As a result, South Carolina Lowcountry developed into a distinct strip of coastal land with its own cultural identity separate from the interior of the state. 

Lowcountry artist Ment Nelson spoke with Blavity about how Gullah-Geechee culture has influenced his art. Nelson has become a popular artist on Twitter and Instagram, because of his thought-provoking posts that educate people on South Carolina’s history. Some of his work was even included in the Smithsonian National Museum’s traveling exhibition “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” which wrapped last month. His social media posts essentially serve as a digital archive to help keep the Gullah-Geechee culture alive.

Nelson lives in Varnville, South Carolina, which is located near Georgia’s barrier islands. With a population of roughly over 2,000 people, it has all the trappings of quintessential small-town America. The 30-year-old shared that he believes his family’s roots in the peach state are connected to the local Gullah Geechee, explaining how learned a lot about his past while attending community functions, like fish fry gatherings. His relatives’ heavy accents still maintain strong traces of the distinctive Gullah language, a dialect that’s historically made up of English and West African languages like Krio, Mende and Vai. He also grew up eating a rich diet of red rice, okra soup, fired chard, oysters and crabs.

Read more at Blavity.

London Lamar, TN’s Youngest State Rep, Can’t Be Bothered By White Tears Or Respectability Politics

Last November’s midterm elections ushered in a wave of progressive, diverse politicians, including Tennessee Rep. London Lamar (D).

After fighting a tough primary against seasoned Democratic candidates, she won her district outright due to the lack of Republican challengers. Inaugurated into office on Jan. 8, 2019, the 27-year-old became the youngest state representative to enter the Tennessee legislature.

However, Lamar’s rise to success hasn’t been devoid of controversy. Shortly after being elected to the state legislature, she made headlines because of a controversial live stream on her Facebook page. Blavity interviewed Lamar about the incident and her response to people taking issue to her calling out racism in her state.

“Tennessee’s racist. Period,” Lamar said in the now-deleted Facebook Live video, which has since been published on YouTube. “Most of the Tennesseans who voted Republican are uneducated.”

She also dove into voting data, which showed the overwhelming support for Trump, despite the political failings of his administration.

“White men voted Republican over — well over 60 or 70 percent, so obviously that’s a particular base of people who believe in superiority,” she continued in the video.

Her claims were not far off. According to Politico, 59.6 percent voted for Republican Bill Lee as the state’s newest governor. Polling data also showed the races around the state where Republicans won tended to have poorer, whiter and non-college educated demos. In many of those races, Republicans won by a wide margin—well over 50 percent.

The backlash was almost instant, as online harassment ran rampant. The harassment spread from Facebook to Twitter and finally, to Instagram. To make matters worse, her mother manages her social media, so she witnessed the depravity against her daughter firsthand.

Read more at Blavity.

How Two Siblings Used Their Mental Health Battles To Create A Resource For Teens In Need

Hannah Lucas, a 16-year-old high school student from Cummings, Georgia, has overcome a lot. At 15-years-old, she was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a chronic illness that causes one to faint. Her symptoms started between the ages of 12 and 13.

“When I was in ninth grade, I started passing out. Basically, it just means that I have very low blood volume and low blood pressure,” she said. “I was passing out so often, kids started bullying me, I was getting sexually harassed and even being threatened.”

Her illness — and the ridicule from her classmates that followed — took a toll on the teen, leading to anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. She says her condition caused her to miss about 200 classes during her freshman year of high school.

To deal with her pain, she started to self-harm and later attempted suicide when her mother came into her room, held her and stopped Hannah before tragedy struck.

“If my mom didn’t come to my room that night, I wouldn’t be here,” Hannah said.

Mental health in the Black community is often swept under the rug or remedied with ineffective treatments. Consequently, suicide rates among Black youth have increased greatly over the past several years.

Read more at AfroTech. 

How FOSTA-SESTA Legislation Is Wreaking Havoc On The Lives Of Sex Workers

Ever since President Donald Trump signed bipartisan bills Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) into law this past April, panic has set in among the sex work community. Often lumped together as FOSTA-SESTA, this legislation was introduced to Congress with an intent to end human trafficking. However, it has also inadvertently targeted consensual sex workers, forcing many to resort to other more dangerous practices.

SESTA-FOSTA challenges section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act of 1996, which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Therefore, websites like Facebook, Amazon, Craigslist, Reddit and YouTube were legally protected, should a user post unsavory or offensive content on their own accord.That was before FBI and other federal agencies raided the home of former Backpage.com owner Michael Lacey. Known for its adult personal ads, the controversial website was shut down and seized by the FBI, once allegations related to child sex trafficking were raised.

Now under SESTA-FOSTA, any site believed to be hosting ads related to human trafficking is at risk of prosecution, even if they are unaware that some of their users are promoting trafficking. Because lawmakers’ stance on sex work seems to exclude the possibility of consensual sex work, SESTA-FOSTA appears to blur the line between consensual sex worker and actual human trafficking. Some sites preemptively removed its adult content earlier this year, including subreddits containing sexual content. Likewise, sex-work directories, like CityVibe and NightShift, have also been shut down. According to a report from Engadget, Google has even started to purge the Drive accounts of cam performers, who sell clips and videos to clients.

Blavity spoke with Tamika Spellman, policy and advocacy associate for Helping Individual People Survive (HIPS). A Black, trans woman and sex worker, Spellman knows firsthand how society looks down on those who engage in this work.

For 25 years, HIPS has provided laundry facilities, a syringe exchange, meals and other services to anyone in need. A safe haven offering assistance to full-service workers, the organization has recently experienced a surge in the sex workers they service because of SESTA- FOSTA. Spellman’s position at HIPS often involves caring for marginalized individuals while advocating for laws that better protect those working in the sex industry.

“Because of this crazy f**king law, which was passed relatively easily, life has become extremely hard,” Spellman said.

Read more at Blavity. 

Arrested Development’s Speech Thomas Shares His Hopes for Black People, Dishes on Band’s Latest Projects

 

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Changing The Narrative Album Cover

The revolutionary hip-hop band Arrested Development broke down barriers 30 years ago by releasing positive albums dedicated to Black self-love, Afro-centric themes and the end to white supremacy across the diaspora.

 

Co-founder and leader of the hit-making conscious rap group, Todd “Speech” Thomas, spoke to Atlanta Black Star about the group’s current projects and its upcoming 30th anniversary. During this exclusive sit-down, Thomas revealed his personal beliefs on topics ranging from the current state of the rap world to systemic white supremacy.

Beginning in 2012, the band worked on its most recent projects “Changing The Narrative” and “This Was Never Home,” which were both completed and released February 2016.

The albums have distinct sounds that appeal to die-hard fans and newcomers alike. “Changing the Narrative” is a sample-based album that has “raw hip-hop mixed with uplifting content” and it is free to listen to on the band’s website.

Both projects feature tracks discussing the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, violence in Chicago and the march on Selma.“This Was Never Home” utilizes the synthesizer and drum machine and focuses on how popular rap music changes the psychology of Black youths. It also tackles how marriage has been “torn down and dismantled in popular culture.”

Read more here.