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OUR FUNDRAISER HAS MOVED! We started another one with our official non-profit status. Here it is. We are still very much accepting and appreciating donations. Thank you!

UPDATE (March 14, 2023)

Hello everyone, it's David. It's been a while since our last update. So much has happened... I know many of you follow us... many of you ARE us, and it means a lot that we are here taking the next step as an organization, and as a community. It may be strange to feel like this - transferring from our original GoFundMe linked to my personal account to the one meant for non-profits - is a goodbye to something dear, but it is. This is the one I started before Lizelle came on, before we had anything official to co-found, but after there was clearly something so real that had been sprouting from those seeds of racial awakening that were planted in 2020 after George Floyd. It's wild... it's tax time now and we are unifying all our things so that there hopefully isn't any more chasing around our records across a smorgasbord of accounts. Such is the truth of an idea that has become a reality - liberatory imagination's paperwork, in a sense. Either way, this is an update to let y'all know that this fundraiser will be moving to this page, which will live on our website and social media if anyone wants to share. More than that though, this is a time to express gratitude.

Thinking back to that Air BnB in Santa Monica where I made that first pitch video... the sound was so static-y because of a codec issue on Final Cut, but I was determined to not worry so much about it because as Joi has always said "done is better than perfect." This was when Lizelle and Joi sat me down and told me that I couldn't work so much or else I would burn out and this wouldn't last. I was stubborn though, still steeped in things I didn't even know yet, so it went on.

At the time it was two 3-hour open surf lessons. No limit to how many people could attend, no real surety around whether we would have enough boards or suits, no idea how to make sure that people wouldn't get smashed in the small yet pounding Santa Monica beachbreak (there are actually people with us still who carry the trauma of those nosedives that we want to teach with our new tools and knowledge so bad.) I resisted. I wanted to get to a 1,000 autonomous, anti-racist surfers by the end of 2021 so that in 10 years, we would have 10,000, which I made up in my mind as the number it would take to solidify the "cultural paradigm shift" that I thought would make dismantling systemis racism real. 10,000 hours, like Malcolm Gladwell said... or like Devin's vlog that felt so close to my own journey. So that was the goal, those were the numbers, and I didn't want to rest until we got there. How foolish it now sounds.

The more people who came into our community, the more I heard about the importance of rest while deep the resistance. To the point where nap ministry's "rest IS resistance" idea started to become more than just a catchy phrase. It was the moment when Theresa told me that urgency and productivity were tenets of white supremacy, as outlined so wonderfully in Tema Okun's crucially vital work, that it really made more sense. That I was approaching this work as a mission to carry out, a goal to accomplish, a objective to fulfill... and that it all was centered around productivity, urgency, and in some cases visibility... it just started to make sense that it was actually in the deep, slow, quiet work both internally and outwardly into our protected community, that the change would occur. Not with 10k surfers in 10 years. Not with me working until Ludine and Ji sat me down and asked me if I was okay and eating because I had lost so much weight. Not with our surfers looked at like a number instead of a dynamic human, a sensitive soul, a friend and chosen family in work that spanned generations before us and will span generations after... it was then that it became clear that we could do this our way. Lizelle and I are still learning how to center nurture and care over performance...two former athletes let go of the validation that infuses into our sense of identity with great difficulty. I'm saying though, all y'all had to tell me was that working my ass off was a tool of white supremacy and I would have stopped soooo many years ago! This is why I should read more.

So where are we now? We have generations of surfers who surf at all sorts of levels of autonomy and community. Some stay close, many venture out and visit. Some have started their own things and have been so wonderfully thriving in their tailored spaces. Many stay with us and become co-authors of this space. With every conversation, every messy conflict, every email and text and car ride up and down this coast, we are all contributing to this space that has become so sacred to us. We learned that we cannot ever guarantee safety, but we can commit to protecting each other and doing our best to keep one another safe in these waters that we've been ancestrally, forcefully estranged from. We learned that we can talk about and denounce racism clearly and unapologetically while still coming back to one another and prioritizing our joy. We've been able to travel the world together and experience surfing in ways we never would. We've been able to traverse our own deep identities and emotional landscapes to confront the internalized oppression we carry, and continue to wrestle with that as we will as long as we are here. Patriarchy is a layer we are wrestling with now. To approach it in our community with love, not alienating or calling out those who perpetuate it, but calling in and carefully finding inviting ways to grow together so we all get free. There is still a popular buzz around this notion of Surfers of Color in their reclamation journey of the ocean and the outdoors. Companies are still flocking to our bodies to slap their products on us and hold us up as a badge of their anti-racist good doings. We resist that where we can. We still need money, we all need money, so there are still bullets to bite when that check is on the table. But we resist nonetheless, doing what we need to do to survive as we devise ways to thrive.

There's not much to say about cool new things, if you think about it, and that is exactly how we know we are doing this our way. We are still finding ways to make our own shit. Cardboard stencils have become silkscreens. Duct Tape has become hot glue. Spray paint on used boards has become acrylic underneath new fiberglass. Camera lenses and used boards are still being scrounged around for online. Wetsuits are still ill fitting our bodies, new or old. There's still long emails, now with our own GIFs in them. We started sewing, playing ball together, roller skating, breaking bread with more intentionality. It's just a continuation. A resistance of trying to do too much. A continued focus on our community. A real challenge to find ways to hold that space for all who want it for the whole journey while still opening up more space for those who are trying to get in. It's a ton of zinc and tumeric as these rains keep washing the waste we've dumped on these occupied lands into the water.

Also, make no mistake, so much of this is not romantic. There are still aggressions against us, all across the spectrum. It's not only internal work that we center... we still need to protect one another from a surf culture that is as steeped in white supremacist culture as it is hidden from its own awareness. As Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs that started in 2020 continue to close and people in those departments continue to get laid off, it's clear that for many, the energy for liberation for oppressed people is fading. We are here, though, to continue that promise to fight racism every day. Fighting can be tiring, but sometimes the fight is in play. Sometimes it is in rest. Sometimes it is in love. But also, at some point it will be in conflict. As we prepare for that, we know that what joy we can derive in this life, even if it not be wholly liberated, must still be centered. What a harmony to seek. What a work to be a part of.

So this is a tremendous thank you to all of you who have contributed to this. A GofundMe that felt greedy when the goal was 5K. An ask to contribute to a cause so many of us, including myself, were just barely starting to get into in earnest in the world. A faith that we are doing work that deserves support in a currency our society understands, and that has direct impact on us being able to survive. We are not thriving yet, but we are still here, hoping defiantly that we will find a way to do this that exceeds all our needs. Thank you all so much, for your support, as we continue to color the water.

UPDATE (July 4, 2022!)

Wow, what a time it has been. Somewhere around this time marks the 2 year anniversary of when this all started! We know we have been away from this page, but your continued donations have been so appreciated. It's not for a lack of need that we have been quiet here... actually the opposite! These days we have been beyond our capacity, and we are trying our best to find ways to build and grow at our own pace, so as to create longevity. Oh how badly we wish this could just be free without ever having to worry about money. How wonderful it would be to support each other in community with the diverse strengths, skills, and non monetary resources we all have. Alas, that is not the society or world we live in, and we continue to need support in order to keep this going. Here are some really notable things that have happened since the last time we updated:

- We won a 50K grant by LA2050, held a 1st Annual Wave a thon , received several small donations and mini grants, did a fundraiser for our surf therapy program, did two more 12 mile paddles in honor of Nick Gabaldon , started a Patreon page, and started sliding scale private lessons last year that has kept us afloat to this point.
- Up to this point, somewhere around 1,345 people have signed up for lessons, volunteering, and community. We have taught less than half of them, and are working diligently but also slowly and thoroughly to make sure everyone who is committed has their needs met as we continue our mission to help surfers reach autonomy
- We've been on TV and stuff. We are not overly hyped about this as some achievement, but our story and message are spreading and that is something we are appreciative of! Soon, there will be something about us on PBS , which David Malana (co-founder and creative leader) is hoping will reach his dad organically!)
- Many of our surfers are now experienced and have started to teach with us! This is incredibly exciting because not only have they progressed so much as surfers, but we've also been able to really key in on decolonizing our surf lessons and making it so that people feel more excited about the act of riding waves than the measure of whether or not they've "actually surfed." That's colonizer thinking and we reject thaaaaaat!
- We started our Color the Water Surf Travel! Thanks to Lizelle, who has such skill and patience when it comes to organizing trips with intentionality and care, we went to Costa Rica and had an amazing, love filled time! The surf and food and amenities were great, but when I tell you that we had these talks that were meant as check in's but had us crying and hugging each other and leaning into our whole selves... what a time.
- Ty, one of our beloved surfers has become a professional adaptive surfer and is currently 4th in the world! We are actually trying to raise money to see if he can live his dream out without having to sell out, and if you are interested in supporting that, here is the link!
- We've started partnering with other groups and orgs of color like GoAdventureCrew, Black Surfers Collective, Ebony Beach Club, Paddle for Peace, Black like Water, and Sofly Surf School, lending the resources we've generated to make sure we are moving this whole thing along together!
- We also started working with youth from Watts, which is a HUGE deal for us, as working with youth is something we take seriously and wanted to arrive at organically. It's been wonderful to start this initiative!
- Phew what else! So many things have happened that have all been so revelatory and profound. The small, intimate moments matter so much to us, they are too bountiful to measure. Yesterday a woman cried tears of joy after catching her first green wave, and the chance to be present, have our needs met, have resources and knowledge built over time, and tools that made sure that the struggles toward that milestone were infused with intentions of safety and celebration rather than performance or grind... it's because of the support we've received that we get to be here for people this way, and a big part of that is this fundraiser and that initial faith by y'all, to help us learn to float and swim as an organization. THANK YOU!

- Well, right now we've come to realize that we need to slow down and get back to our core. The momentum of this work to liberate surfing has built and we've been trying to quietly continue our mission while supporting others, and that continuance of creating space for surfers to reach autonomy is super important to us. We will continue to honor our commitments to those we've given our word to, but more than anything we want those hopeful individuals who want to make surfing a part of their life... we want them to be able to receive support.
- We have this chance to tell our story in the ways we want. To control our narrative so that it's not a TV channel trying to diversify their programming or a company trying to sell some stuff. We have the chance to really do some amazing things with the stories that make our Color the Water adventure so grand, and those things are coming out soon. Here are some looks at a documentary that is in the making as we speak!
- More travel. We want to tread lightly, but also tread bravely into the surf world. It's been jarring at times to travel to these countries and actually be even more thoroughly surrounded by white surfers, but that is the reality of surf travel as it exists, and it is something that we are hoping to address. 
- Surf Therapy. The ocean's healing powers and the mental health landscape are both incredibly exclusionary and not designed by or for POC. These two things are things that we hope to take a foundation of and eventually carry into the future with a bow back to our ancestors of color, who used healing practices and the ocean to care for their needs. Our very first surfer Ludine is leading this program and we could not be more grateful to her for the work she's done!
- Board shaping! We shaped a board recently, our very first, and Rahzizi, our artist renaissance human, adorned it with Sade. It's Calle Liberated Love Deluxe and it is just this beautiful work that we hope to add more to. 

There are many more things to mention, but as Lizelle is, so are we as an org - about that action. The point of it all though is that we are still here, actually thriving in so many ways, but still in need of so much support and really leaning on the faith that if we keep doing the things we believe are right and keep continuing to make sure they are done the right way, we will be provided for. Thank you for those who have gestured your resources to keep us going... it's something we can't thank you enough for!

UPDATE (2/5/2020)

We met our initial goal of 25K to get us through 2020! We have the chance to really make this something that lasts as a true institution of anti-racism, and we have anti'd up our personal funds to secure a location near the coast for Liz and me to really try and give this wings! Here are some things that will be able to continue if we can reach 100K!

- first, lessons will be able to remain free, which we are both passionate about. In the 7 months of instruction before we paused for COVID, we gave about $60,000 worth of lessons and rentals, not to mention the media. This is our core. Forever removing this barrier for BIPOC people to enter the ocean, forever helping Color the Water
- securing this money will allow us to really sink into developing this into something sustainable. We've been barely hanging on, to be honest, and we want instead to genuinely build. Ultimately our goal is to have our own space, imagine that! A CTW Surf House... land for us to enter the water from that is beautifully colorful and defined not by any other cultural paradigms than the joyous, communal, positive, inclusive, anti-racist that we are laying the foundation for now.
- representation: short form documentary, graphic design, ocean photography, magazines, vlogs... the kinds of things we've never seen of us. the kinds of things that have shown us that we aren't a part of the culture. That's fine for us, we want to make our own
- Community: CTW has become a community that inclusive of all anti-racist people, but we need more time and resources to continue to build it. Financial security would allow and enable us to keep up with the demand there is to help, join, and support. 

That's all for now, we hope you all are well and if you have landed here, that you can find ways to help us #colorthewater.

A Color the Water Origin Story
For a more detailed version of the CTW Origin story, please click here .

We are #COLORTHEWATER (CTW), a small group of aspiring surfers of color offering free surf lessons and coaching for all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and creating more visibility for BIPOC surf culture. We are creating a network of BIPOC surfers in the LA Area and around the world. 
I am David Malana, founder of CTW. I am a first generation Filipino American international educator/trainer, videographer/photographer, former ball player, and surfer. CTW has set a high bar for itself, and I am proud to say that we are getting there. We need your help take the next steps though.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? — Fighting Stereotypes • Creating BIPOC Spaces
At LA’s first paddle out honoring George Floyd , I realized that the ocean, one of my most prized sanctuaries, is almost entirely a white space. Surfing was invented by BIPOC, but it was then commodified by colonizers, pushing BIPOC inland while tokenizing a select few as “exotic” surfers. This racism creates stereotypes about a relationship with water and the ocean that many BIPOC have internalized as part of their ethnic identity ("oh, we don't swim"). This obstacle makes ocean play seem too frivolous to invest hard-earned money in. I decided to change this, and so with the help of friends and family, I started Color The Water on social media with the hashtag #colorthewater. We have been able to do a lot in two short months!

WHAT WE HAVE DONE SO FAR — Coaching • Media • Surf Meetups
CTW has coached over 30 surfers to date, with over 20 more on the way. This amounts to nearly 125 private/semi-private lessons, each lasting about one to two hours (roughly $30,000 worth of coaching/rentals). Accompanying these lessons, surf coaches from Venice Beach to India have offered over fifty hours of remote and in-person video analysis like this Wave Breakdown. CTW has daily, often twice daily small surf meetups that create a safe, positive, and welcoming space for BIPOC. Our makeshift CTW HQ has helped people access the ocean with even greater ease, and we all hope one day we can have an HQ to call our own.

WHY DO WE NEED FUNDS? — Access • 100% Free Lessons • Sustaining CTW 
Getting to the beach can be time consuming and expensive. Private surf lessons can cost $150 for 1.5 hours (without media), and gear rental costs around $50. It's just too much for most people. For BIPOC, those barriers have compounded due to generations of systemic racism. That is why I am passionate about making our lessons 100% free for hopeful learners. CTW has grown such that we need help to keep the community moving forward.

Money raised through this GoFundMe will go towards the following categories: 
(1) Essential CTW HQ Surf Equipment (boards, +size suits, tents, etc)
(2) Surf Media Equipment (camera, lenses, action camera, water-housing)
(3) Surf Teacher & Videographer Compensation 
(4) CTW HQ (surf, beach equipment, HQ rent)
(5) CTW Surfer Kit (essential gear for progression)

For full budget documentation, including community contributions and stretch-goals, 
click here .

Here are some of the things our surfers have had to share about what #colorthewater means to them.
“CTW has helped me get over the hump by taking my skill set from beginner to intermediate.  David has a skill for seeing what I was doing wrong and articulating how to make those correction on the fly.  I’m happy to be a part of the CTW community.”
- Nate

"Color the Water has become the sacred, safe haven I always knew I needed but didn’t have access to until now. I finally feel like I belong in the ocean, and this community has made me feel so welcomed."
- Ludine

"The CTW surfing community feels like a second family."
- Rahzizi

"CTW set us up with gear and made possible what felt impossible. David was crystal clear with his explanations, and great at quickly preparing beginners at varying skill levels. I’ll always remember the serenity of finally making it out on the water — the setting sun painting the water orange and pink. Thank you, CTW!"
- Cruz and Lila

"I met David when I was struggling to keep up with more WAY more Advanced surfers than I. He asked if he could help me and I couldn’t say “ YES!” Fast enough. As a black woman who is new to surfing it can be very discouraging to go out on your own to learn esp when No one looks like you in the water. CTW offers all people of color a safe , friendly and comfortable environment to learn and grow as a surfer within the most diverse surf community I’ve ever seen. I’ve improved in so many areas but most notably in my confidence . Definitely one of the best things to happen to me since moving to LA. "
- Erin

“In the sea, each wave washes away all my troubles as I float and the calm comes over me. The ocean is my therapy. When I see diversity in the water, it fuels my soul to get better and better. On land I am biracial but the sea is all of me."
- Noemie

“Surfing taught me how to surrender. Color the Water creates a space for me to feel safe to do so.”
- Joi K. Madison 

"Color the Water is not only a movement that acknowledges systemic racism by providing equity in the water for BIPOC, but provides sanctuary to cope with community trauma during this time."
- Faith

"I have no doubt you are making huge waves with Color the Water because it has been a long time coming."
- Nana, mother of Noemie, CTW Surfer

"If the ocean is truly for everyone, than it's about time we open these gates for those who have not been privileged in a way that makes surfing a genuine choice, and not just an unfulfilled fantasy. Please help us break down as many barriers of entry as we can, so that BIPOC can connect back to their ancient ancestors and shift surfing from a stoic, mostly white multi-billion dollar industry to a shared celebration of the beauty and magic of the ocean we've been far too long kept from. Not anymore though, now it's time for us to color the water."
- David


  • Esther Dixon
    • $20 
    • 1 yr
  • Kevin Flaherty
    • $20 
    • 1 yr
  • Tishin Donkersley
    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Carrie Strickland
    • $200 
    • 1 yr
  • Chad Blocker
    • $100 
    • 1 yr

Fundraising team: Color the Water Community (4)

David Malana
Los Angeles, CA
Lizelle Jackson
Team member
Joi Madison
Team member
Cruz AD
Team member

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