How The Black Surfers Collective Is Cultivating New Black Wave Riders
Since the '40s, there have been a number of Black surfers redefining the sport in the U.S., carving out a space that was typically devoid of diversity.
The Surfer’s Journal editor, Scott Hulet, says 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.
Events like their Pan African Beach Days and their beach camps, which invite young people to surf and hang out, raise awareness about surfing's history within the Black community.
Out of all of the events thrown by the BSC, their tribute to Nick Gabaldón is by far the most central.
The legendary Nick Gabaldón was characteristically the Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice of the surfing world.
Considered the unofficial godfather of Black surfers, historians believe Nick Gabaldón was the first Black documented surfer in American history.
He reportedly taught himself how to surf during his early twenties.
During the height of Jim Crow and segregation, Black patrons interested in going to a beach near Los Angeles had two main choices:
The “negro beach” known as the Inkwell in Santa Monica, CA, or Bruce’s Beach, which is located a little over 12 miles south in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Gabaldón mostly frequented the Inkwell, but would also surf the predominantly white beaches outside in Malibu Beach, CA.
While traveling between the Inkwell to Malibu, Gabaldón garnered respect from white surfers for his tenacious pursuit of the best waves.
Despite relative obscurity, his legacy, and the legacy of the other Black surfers, live on through the work of the BSC.
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