Some Things Are More Than Surfing
Ed note: the following comes from our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you're into it, subscribe here.
Surfing is fun.
I’ve more or less made a career out of saying irreverent shit about it and the culture that surrounds it. In the few months of writing the Fwd, I’ve mixed some of that with a handful of unguarded thoughts. Writing a weekly letter to thousands of people is something I consider a privilege. But with privilege comes responsibility, and standard programming doesn’t feel like the responsible thing to produce right now.
Some things are bigger than surfing, and they deserve to be talked about.
I’m only going to share three links. One is a story about what it’s like to be a black surfer in LA. One highlights a bunch of donation initiatives currently happening in the surf community (and slightly beyond). But the first, and most important one, is a link with resources to learn more about anti-racism.
In situations like this, it feels natural to speak in a way designed to make people who agree with you continue to agree and people who disagree with you continue to disagree. I am trying not to do that here. If you think that BIPOC are treated unfairly in many different ways and that everyone needs to come together and prioritize fixing that, as I’m sure most of you do, good. We’re on the same page.
But if you feel that blue lives or all lives or warped statistics matter more, I hope you can read into this issue with an open heart. Give it a chance. If not here, then somewhere, and soon.
Inequality exists all over nature, and has existed all through time. Even waves are driven by inequality — by an imbalance of atmospheric pressure. But here’s the thing: As humans, especially ones alive right now, we know better. Better than to create unnecessary suffering. Better than to draw lines that hamper our collective growth. The majority of the people reading this live in (and benefit from) societies that claim to prioritize equality. As an American, I cannot comprehend how one could stare into our country’s history — from its inception to its recent events — and not acknowledge a horrible degree of inequality that needs not only to be addressed, but prioritized. And America is certainly not alone.
The more deeply we understand that, the better we’ll be at finding solutions. So here’s the first link.
There are many different iterations of this going around. I found this one via Sal Masakela’s IG bio. Sal’s always been a voice that surfing is lucky to have, and he’s someone we should be listening to right now.
Some folks say that racism only exists in certain communities — like if you live in a surfy coastal town, it doesn’t matter. That falls short when you hear the story of Ryan Harris, who once had a shotgun pointed at his face by a cop for trying to drive to work.
I thought about using this to link to where you can directly donate. But 1, you’ve almost certainly already encountered that all over the internet. (If you haven’t, try here.) And 2, I thought it’d be good to shine a light on individuals and brands in our sphere that are taking action.
One last thing
Optimism comes naturally to me. It’d be cute to think that it’s something I’ve cultivated, something I’ve worked hard to achieve and maintain. But a large part of my optimism is the result of not having to worry about a cop kneeling on my neck until I die or someone hunting me down while I go for a run. So optimistic doesn’t feel like the right word right now. Maybe hopeful is.
I’m hopeful that the death, the blood, the tears, the teargas, the charred buildings, and broken glass will lead to a better, healthier, more diverse, more loving, more alive society — for every single one of us.
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