On BAME & BIPOC fem skater representation
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."
- Rosa Parks
It has taken some time for me to do the research and gather my thoughts on the events that have unfolded these last few weeks, and, whilst I will remain a life-long student on the topic of institutionalism racism, I feel sufficiently equipped to publicly broadcast my intention.
I recently came across the above quote by Rosa Parks in my reading, and it solidified what I needed to do. I can admit that I was initially scared of making a statement in case I were to say something wrong, or if I were accused of performative behaviour or tokenism. I still have a lot to learn and I cannot ever presume to fully understand the experience of black people. Whilst being in strong support of BLM on a personal level, I wondered whether my white hetero cis voice was valid in this space. I then realised that this is a white problem and therefore we are all responsible to act, to be loudly anti-racist, and to intentionally dismantle the insidious institutionalised racism both within myself, the female skate community and beyond. And, given the gravity of the situation, if this was easy, I wouldn’t be doing it right.
At its inception, ASC’s primary goal was to give the minority of female skateboarders a voice and a safe space to be represented within the sport. Whilst this has been successful, the representation of minorities within that minority has not been enough. Black and ethnic visibility is painfully low in the UK female skate community. I cannot overlook the lack of diversity in my team which does not align with the culture of skateboarding, and that not representing BAME/BIPOC had led to the elitist institutions we see today. Skaters come from all walks of life to meet and skate together, each joining in a common love of something beyond themselves, each contributing to the melting pot of the scene. Anyone can pick up a board and go. It is therefore my responsibility as a brand owner in this community to consistently demonstrate this representation in ASC’s aesthetic, language, content, behaviour and network, giving BAME/BIPOC equal access to media representation in the female skate community.
Intention is everything. I know that to fully represent BAME/BIPOC in this community will take time, effort, commitment, sensitivity and investment, but most importantly, a genuine and intentional desire to improve the experience, better include, promote opportunity for and represent BAME/BIPOC in female skateboarding. I am here to listen, learn and continually educate myself and ASC’s followers on how to make room for change. I know that these initial changes might be seen as tokenism. I know that these first few steps will be the most uncomfortable, challenging white fragility both within and without. I am prepared to be met with accusations of ‘reverse racism’ by prioritising BAME/BIPOC representation, and to those people, I kindly ask to see yourselves off my follow count. Regardless of how much I fuck up, which I will, I am committed. I am ready to put in the work now and forever, without fear, because it is the right thing to do. Whether it be through future collaborations with black female artists, scouting black female talent to join the team, or bolstering schemes with the Malcom X Centre, Full Circle Project and the Bristol Creative Youth Network, I hope in time I can prove that this change towards increased opportunity and representation will be sustained.
So, first steps. If you are a BAME/BIPOC fem skater, DM me your clips on Instagram! I will post every single one to the page.