As a surf shop and community nexus we have a commitment to upholding the values of inclusivity, accountability, and social justice within the microcosm of our surf community and the wider society in which we live. From the outset of our business we have always strived for an equitable and inclusive approach to an industry that is far from perfect. While discrimination continues to occur based on race, ethnicity, gender, body type, physical ability and sexual orientation — we have a long road ahead of us.
Khadjou Sambe, Senegal's first female surfer
At this punctuated moment in history, and the wider public discussion surrounding it, we stand in solidarity with the Black community, and against all forms of racism and oppression. Surfing is not exempt from the wider challenges of society, as injustice has shown itself to be present within the surf industry — professional and recreational surfing included. To help our own community heal and evolve we pledge a continued commitment to empowering voices to widen our collective perspective.
Over the course of the recent pandemic-related closures we had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with Rhonda Harper, the founder of Black Girls Surf, about the history, present and future of representation, and civil rights within surf culture. Her work and the work of other people of colour within various surf communities are crucial to move the needle forward.
Check out the full discussion with Rhonda below.
Black Girls Surf is a nonprofit competitive surf fitness training camp for girls and women, which serves the African diaspora, with programs currently running in California, Jamaica, Sierra Leone and Senegal.
We feel our drive to grow as individual surfers, and as a surf community must be met with a concerted effort to confront our own biases, to listen, and to learn from those around us. We have compiled a short list of enlightening articles recently published which address this continued challenge.
The Black Surfing Association at the 2011 Rincon Invitational in March. Photo: Ken Samuels/BlackSurfingAssociation.blogspot.com
Closer to home there are several agencies doing vital work to support members of our community. Organized by Black Lives Matter-Toronto, this emergency fund was launched at the start of COVID to help Black community members dealing with the financial effects of the pandemic.
In solidarity with our Black communities, we are calling all surfers, businesses and organizations across Canada to join Black Girls Surf Worldwide Paddle Out this Friday. While there may not be formally organized paddle outs scheduled for where you live, this is still an opportunity to safely paddle out with a friend or a small group of friends while practicing physical distancing and respecting COVID-19 guidelines in your municipalities. The water is what connects us all. Together, we can join thousands of surfers from all over the world out on the water at the same time. This is a time to reflect, show our support and to call attention to systemic racism in and out of the water. These are the times the worldwide paddle out will be happening across the country:
FRIDAY, JUNE 5TH
- Newfoundland 5:30PM
- Atlantic 5PM
- Eastern 4PM
- Central 3PM
- Mountain 2PM
- Pacific 1PM
Our friend and surf instructor Andres from Zed's Surfing Adventures at one of our favourite waves in Barbados. Photograph Lucas Murnaghan.
As a business and as individuals we will work to continually improve and do better toward the goal of eradicating racial prejudice and injustice in and out of the water. We welcome dialogue and ideas on how we can do better, while challenging businesses, organizations and individuals in our communities on how we can all work together towards ending racism for good.
Antonio is an ISA-certified surf coach, movement & mindfulness teacher and community builder. He was born and raised in Brazil and graduated from OCAD University with a degree in Graphic Design. Antonio is the founder and CEO of Surf the Greats. Find him on Instagram.