As the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 grew to the largest in US history, the movement accelerated conversations on race and privilege that could no longer be ignored. With nonprofit organizations worldwide becoming active in the movement for advancing racial justice, we thought it was important to address the work that needs to be done within skateboarding.
The Commitment to Anti-Racism in Skateboarding was officially launched on the May 25, 2021 — one year after George Floyd’s tragic murder. The Commitment was created by the Goodpush Alliance, together with working group members from a dozen skateboarding-based organizations, who have been meeting virtually since mid-2020 to address the systemic oppression prevalent in skateboarding in order to push the conversation forward towards meaningful action.
The Impact So Far
Since its launch, the Commitment now has more than 840 signatories, including 250+ social skateboarding projects, brands and skate shops from over 50 countries. So far six national governing bodies for skateboarding (representing skating in the Olympics) have signed on as well from Brazil, the UK, US, Canada, Bangladesh and Germany. We are amazed to see how widely the Commitment has already been shared and the conversations it has prompted. We can’t wait to share our exciting plans for the upcoming year.
The Importance of Anti-Racism Action
When it comes to race, none of us are immune to having biases. The first step is to recognize that and to do the work necessary for everyone to feel welcome. Anti-racism action goes beyond simply not being racist; it challenges socially constructed and institutionalized oppression and demands fundamental changes. The Goodpush Alliance community has had discussions and webinars on how racism plays out in personal interactions, in organizations, and in the wider skateboarding and aid sector.
This can be in apparent ways like the lack of representation of people of color in high-level nonprofit or skate industry jobs, as well as day-to-day microaggressions that skaters of color face when they’re out skating. Though the nonprofit sector invests time and resources into the promotion of social equity, it has been largely (and rightly) criticized for pervasive ‘whiteness’ and perpetuating racial hierarchies. Nonprofits should not just advocate, but manifest internally the drive for social change through anti-racism action.
The Purpose of the Working Group
The main objective of the Pushing Against Racism working group is to create an anti-racist culture in the skate community worldwide. This means supporting each other in the work of challenging systemic racism that may appear at our skateparks, in the media, in our organizational structures, in skate programs that we run, and in the wider skateboard industry.
We invited all of the Commitment signatories to our first online meet-up in July in which 50 people attended, sharing their own experiences, questions, and focal areas for action, such as:
- Skate infrastructure ethics
- Anti-racism curriculum for skate projects
- And the intersectionality of accessibility in skating ie. ability, gender, race
In September, our session on Pushing Against Racism at the online Goodpush Summit was the most well attended out of all nine Summit sessions, with the guest speakers all highlighting the need for representation of skaters of color at all levels of the community/industry as well as financial support. In December 2021, we held our 2nd signatory meet up on Skateboarding and Racism in the Global South. 45 attendees joined in to listen to our guest speakers from South Africa and Afghanistan, and to share their own experiences and suggestions for overcoming barriers to making skateboarding more accessible and equitable.
For more info or to sign the Commitment, go to antiracism.goodpush.org. You'll also find resources and next steps to help you act on the Commitment in your own contexts and communities. We really want to encourage you to get involved in this important movement by signing the commitment, going through the resources and sharing this initiative within your circles!
In the coming months we also plan to launch the Pushing Against Racism Fund, an initiative to support anti-racism action within skateboarding. Stay tuned for more details.