Throughout our country’s history, African-Americans have broken down barriers in many sports. As skateboarding began in Southern California in the late 1970s, however, very few African-Americans were part of the original movement.
“When I started, there wasn’t really that many black people skating,” said Jay.
While stars like Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters have established African-Americans’ presence in golf and tennis, they haven’t brought notable changes in these sports’ popularity in the black community. In contrast, African-Americans are participating in skateboarding on both a recreational and a professional level.
“I used to play basketball and I was over it. I saw some dues skating over here and I was like, I’m gonna get me a skateboard,” said skateboarder Tyree.
“I was at football practice and I saw this white-boy skating. He showed me how to ollie and I took it from there. And my idol: Stevie Williams man, he’s from Philly, he’s from the hood. Look what he did — got his own company and all that. If he could skate, anybody could skate,” added skating enthusiast Jay.
Since the birth of street skating in the early ‘90s, it has been the leading form of skateboarding and the sport has shifted from ramps and swimming pools in the suburbs to urban architecture.
“Any little obstacle you can find lurking in the street,” said a young skater from Africa.
“I’m mostly a ledge guy and I also do a lot of stairs,” said a teenage skater.
“I actually like skating the asphalt in the street,” said another skater.
The top professionals performed throughout the country’s cities, where they rubbed shoulders with African-Americans.
“We got little homies right here skateboarding,” said Jay.
“I’ve seen a lot more African-Americans skating in the course of two years,” said the young African skater.
“Way more blacks than before, way more,” said Tyree.
Today, African-Americans embrace the skateboarding sub-culture and some are becoming top pros.
“It’s more accepted which I think is kind of beautiful,” said a young adult skater.
“I skate nine hours-a-day,” said a teenage skater from California.
“It’s a great thing. It’s so fun. It’s the best,” said a pre-teen skater.
“African-Americans; you think they get in trouble, they’re bad kids. So, when you see them skating, it’s kind of a positive thing to do, a good thing to do. It really helps them out,” said a young skater from Africa.
“This is what we do!” said Jay.