A longer new piece on today’s NBC News explores surfing’s very racist past. I am sometimes surprised to read the opinions of professors of surf journalism, founders and directors of university centers for surf research and authors of political histories of surfing of whom I’ve never once heard.
Surfing is, to me, a small bubble where all the players are known or known adjacent but I suppose in this day of hard interior looks, that is simply my bubble perspective.
In any case, journalist Dennis Romero writes, “The sport that helped popularize the graphic T-shirt, birthed skateboarding and gave the world a name for loafing online is, like other American subcultures, confronting a scourge of racism that has thrived within its own ranks.”
The Outrigger Club in Waikiki in 1911 culturally appropriating surfing and making it white, localism as a form of racial discrimination, The Endless Summer leaving out the word “apartheid”, Windansea kids traveling up to the 1965 Watts Riots for “entertainment”, Jeff Spicoli representing privilege and the racist sentiment associated with those who oppose the “Brazilian Storm” are all probed.
An accurate portrayal?
I don’t think so, especially not where it relates to localism as a form of racial discrimination. I’m certain there are racist locals but surf localism is much broader along with rage-filled surf tribalism and very rude surf shaming, as my transition to mid-lengther is teaching me.
I am also a white male so my opinion counts for zero but what is your opinion? What do you think?
Just kidding. Your opinion counts for zero too.