When you think of what a skater looks like, be it at a park, on ice, or in a roller rink, who are you picturing?
"I want people to get rid of their idea of what they think a skater is, because whatever you're thinking is wrong," DJ Gooden said.
Meet DJ Gooden, the founder of Black Girls Skate, a nonprofit working to challenge the idea of who can be a skater.
"There's no special title, skills, or anything that you have to have to be a skater. There's no identity associated with it," Gooden said.
Founded in 2019, Black Girls Skate has been carving out space in skate sports for Black women, women of color, and folks in the LGBTQ community—skaters who have historically been marginalized in skate culture.
"When we talk about equity, we want to knock down those barriers that keep some of us out of the sport. So, whether it be access to the safety equipment or the equipment itself, access to sources of funds so they can purchase the equipment, access to coaches, just different things like that," Gooden said.
Through a series of pop-up meetups across the country, the team works to equip skaters with those much-needed resources. And most importantly, the chance to connect with others in their communities.
"Our goal for today is, like everyone who's meeting here today, we want them to still link up. Even though we're not here. I want them to still link up and skate together," Gooden said. "I feel like it's very important to share what you learn, especially with the people in your community."
For the Black Girls Skate team, it's not just about providing a space for folks to share tips on tricks and connect over their shared love of skate culture. It's also about providing skaters with a space to feel safe in literally every sense of the word.
"As a woman at a skate park, it's already kind of like that can be dicey territory sometimes. And then adding being a woman of color just makes it that much more a dynamic experience," Alexis Edmonds, a Phoenix-based roller derby coach, said. "I was saying to my sister on the way here, I was like, I don't think I've ever been at a skate park with more than like four black people. And two of them I was related to at the time. And so this is really cool just to, like, see everybody out together."
As the encouragement sinks in and the next generation takes up skating, the future of these sports is taking shape, one frontside 50-50 at a time.
"On a day like today, I'm feeling super inspired, you know? So yeah, I think there is a long way to go, but we are making progress. It's slow, but we're getting there," Gooden said.
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