Hidden Gems: Shining A Light On The Black Surfer Collective

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of surfing? For me, I immediately see dudes with long blonde beach waves and blue eyes in Malibu. The very first images to come to my mind never included black folks, that is until recently when I worked the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California.

It’s true, you don’t see many black surfers in the mainstream, but black surfers do exist. I was working at the Vans US Open of Surfing, representing Sandbox Fitness when I realized that my co-worker, a black woman, is extremely passionate about surfing. It didn’t stop there because I met several black people from all over who love it as well. Still the minority, but representation matters.

I wasn’t surprised to black folks who enjoyed getting out on the water with their boards, because I had been researching surfing lessons for a while and through my research, I found an organization called the Black Surfers Collective. The Black Surfers Collective’s mission is to raise cultural awareness and promote diversity in surfing through community activities and outreach.

The collective sponsors events and activities near the ocean, including their Pan African Beach Days, which occur every second Sunday of the summer months. They provide free ocean safety and surf lessons for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Surf Bus Foundation provides the surfboards that are used during the Pan African Beach Days and as long as weather and water permit, those of us who are curious about the sport can learn in an environment in which we feel we belong.

Not only is the Black Surfers Collective handing out free lessons, but they’re also handing out knowledge. They review the history of surfing and pay homage to influential black surfers, including surfing pioneer Nick Gabaldon, who grew up in Los Angeles during Jim Crow and learned to surf in