I’ve sat on the fence about whether to post anything about racism, as on one hand I thought “This is really important and I need to make my stance clear”, and on the other I thought “Do people just want me to post about skateboarding, and will they get pissed off by this?”. Ultimately I thought “Fuck it”: anyone who takes issue with me posting about this probably sucks and I don’t want them reading my blog anyway. If skateboarding is as progressive, open, inclusive and utopian as we all think it is, having the opinion that innocent people shouldn’t be murdered by the police shouldn’t be a controversial take.

I am an (admittedly pale) mixed race Black/British skateboarder, and there is a really horrible undercurrent of racism in the UK. As much as we like to think otherwise, it does often worm it’s way into skateboarding. I have either been silent or compliant in casually racist conversations, or actions from other skateboarders in the past. If there are any people out there I have personally offended with my actions or words in the past, I’m truly sorry. As someone from my background, you are also taught to shut up when these conversations happen – lest you become the butt of the next round of racist bullying. I chose self preservation instead of sticking up for fellow skateboarders, and it’s something that makes me angry at myself to this day. 

Skateboarding can be utterly hypocritical when it comes to race. For years this lifestyle was the preserve of angry, white boys who just wanted to shred and get gnarly. Many years ago in Coventry, Black skateboarders were quite rare, and I remember one of the groms in the scene bemoaning the lack of influential skaters from a Black background in the city. And although, yes, I do come from a Black background, I did understand his point – Black skaters were rare in the city at the time. 

Knowing you ethnically differentiate from many of the other skateboarders in your city can be lonely, and I can also imagine this can be said for anyone who wasn’t a straight, white male at that time in skateboarding. But, being a Black skateboarder is important in inspiring others from the same background to pursue this activity, and become part of this community. Skaters like Jordan Thackeray, Shaun Currie and Korahn Gayle are all no doubt influential to younger Black British skaters who never thought this lifestyle was for them.

In the current climate, could you imagine skating street spots as a Black skateboarder and having to deal with police kicking you off of spots? If you were skating in the US, would you even make it home from the session alive? This is the shit white pro skaters never had to deal with – a ticket, a slap on the wrist, or maybe a board being confiscated at worst. We like to hold up the “Skateboarding makes everyone equal” card, but regardless of this we are all still different and experience social interaction differently based on who we are, what we look like, and how society perceives us. It isn’t about erasing our differences, but embracing them and realising we are all awesome in different ways. 

It’s been revealing to see the wave of apology posts coming out from board companies about specific bigoted incidents: Julien Stranger apologising for TMo’s racist encounters on the Anti-hero insta, Kyle Walker apologising for spouting a racist slur whilst singing along to a rap song. I’d like to say I’m shocked and surprised, but skateboarding has had a problem with bigotry (and sweeping it under the rug) for a while: 

  • Danny Way’s involvement in being an accomplice to second degree murder of a gay man whilst Josh Swindell took the blame didn’t stop him getting featured as the face of the Skate video games.
  • A wave of shock washed over the skateboarding industry when Brian Anderson came out as gay (thus proving that gay skateboarders do exist, and yes, they fucking rule). But it took a legendary pro like Anderson to reveal his sexuality before skateboarders started to lay off on the homophobic in-jokes. 
  • Constant comments of “that’s a dude” when insta accounts promoting female skateboarders post a clip of a trans skateboarder, which in turn raises the other issue of people only following these accounts to see hot girls riding skateboards (as opposed to, you know, just wanting to see some skateboarding). 

This community is not as inclusive and open as we like to believe, and the sooner we collectively accept that the sooner we can do better. It’s probably because skateboarders still skew toward mainly young boys, and comes with a bit of immaturity attached… But maybe that isn’t fair, as many young kids now are very conscious of being inclusive and trying to curb bigotry. In some cases kids are more accepting than adults twice their age. 

As a group largely consistently of straight men, we have accepted many male, Black skaters as “one of us” for a long time, but this doesn’t really mean a lot until we stick up for our fellow skateboarders, and use whatever privilege’s we have to prove that skateboarders stick up not only for their own, but anyone who is bullied and pushed down by society. 

How many unreasonable, shitty police officers have you dealt with when you are politely trying to leave a spot? I got stopped and fined for even carrying a skateboard in Coventry City Centre once, and the police made me feel like I’d been out there shooting people. I got “profiled” by police many times in my late teens because I “looked like” someone they were after – questioned about where I was going, where I lived, where I worked, because I looked a bit “ethnic” and was walking home near some nice houses. Only now do I question why I was stopped so many times, despite having no criminal record.

Years ago police in Coventry were throwing people in cells for the night if they were skating street. Young men get stopped and searched by police all the time in hopes of finding weapons, drugs or both – and this has happened to skateboarders in attempts to deter street skating. And here’s the kicker: if they are doing that shit to white skaters, can you imagine the shit they’re pulling on Black skateboarders? You can’t champion Black skateboarding legends like Stevie Williams, Ray Barbee or Chris Pastras on one hand, and then sit there saying “All Lives Matter”, or saying we must retain statues glorifying slave traders, or stick up for police brutality. 

Rather than just being silent and sticking to skateboarding, be loud and make some noise. 

As a start, you can donate to the following charities to help the cause:


Stop Hate UK –

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