America's surf culture: sand, waves, white. It's a billion dollar industry that defines what it means to be California "cool." However when we look at the lineup, the representation does not reflect the diversity of our communities. When most people imagine the image of a surfer, they imagine the stereotypical sun bleached surfer dude--think Spicoli from Fast Time at Ridgemeont High.
Surfing and beach culture have become the face of “California cool” , but if you look closely at the lineup, you might notice something’s missing. As with most realms in outdoor sports, minorities and people of color are conspicuously few or outright missing. With this project, we’d like to delve into the history of how this came to be, and examine the experiences of those that are succeeding and pushing the sport forward, but still going unnoticed.
The color of the lineup in surf today isn't reflective of the true history of this sport. Started by the native Hawaiians but eradicated by white missionary settlers as an “ungodly” practice, it wasn’t until 1907 when Jack London brought a board back to the mainland from Hawaii and started catching waves. In the 60s, the sport’s popularity boomed and the golden era of surfing began, meanwhile during the civil rights movement, blacks and other minorities were excluded, from much of the public beaches and water access at the time.
We hope to tell the stories of and represent black and brown surfers making waves in the surfing world today. By doing this, our goal is to create more visibility for minority athletes to eventually encourage greater diversity and increased sense of accessibility in the lineup.
Our first stop is to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica- a Jamaican surf town known for it's fierce wave, Salsa Brava. This town is the home of Costa Rica's top surfers, and we want to share their stories and experiences.
We’re interested in uncovering stories about how our skin color affects our experiences, both in the water and out on dry land. We are both surfers, educators, and proud women of color. Natasha is as dedicated to bringing other women of color in the water as she is teaching ninth graders the Pythagorean Theorem in the math room. Having lived in Puerto Viejo for almost three years, she has experienced first hand the power of seeing her identity in the water, the driving force of her own surf journey.
Kristi is an artist, photographer and storyteller, passionate about telling stories of minorities in the outdoors, working at the intersection of art and social justice with youth and previously completed a project in Nepal about the first women trekking guides in the Himalayas.
This fundraiser will help cover the cost for travel, equipment, and accommodations.We’re super stoked to have you join us on this journey and can’t wait to share more from this project with you!
- Kellie Wagner
- Laura Stein
- Rachel Roderman
- Janet LaBelle
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