June 1, 2020/ / VIDEOS/ Comments: 49

The world is grieving the loss of yet another innocent black man killed by the cops, as protestors take to the streets across the country in memory of George Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd, like so many others we can’t even name, did nothing to deserve his extrajudicial treatment by Chauvin and his gang of officers, who all initially faced no consequences for their clear breach of protocol. That’s American racism in action, brutal and fatal.

But racism shows up in more insidious ways as well. Take, for instance, a ridiculous display of racial privilege and profiling that happened in New York a few days before Floyd’s murder, when a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the cops on a black man, Christian Cooper, for innocently bird watching in Central Park. In the video that Christian filmed, it appears that Amy knows she’s weaponizing the same forces that killed Eric Garner in 2014, in the same place that five innocent black boys were wrongly arrested back in 1989 no less–she emphasizes “African-American” as if it were a crime.

The United States has a police problem, and the United States has a race problem, and those are an especially potent poison if you’re skin is dark. Skateboarding, as a product of America, also has a race problem, even if it’s something a lot of us would rather not hear or talk about.

Na-kel Smith doesn’t care whether you want to hear it or not. He’s black, and has to face daily discrimination of all types, even from within our beloved skate industry. He recently shared an off-the-cuff conversation he had with friends that touches on some of the shit they’ve gone through being black skaters: from being called slurs by teammates to being asked to perform racially insensitive requests from sponsors.

Throughout the 35-minute video, you can tell it’s a tough thing for these guys to talk about, which is why it’s so important for us to listen. The least we could do was amplify their voices (with permission, of course), and we urge you to hear out Nak and company in the video above.

If you’re one of those people that don’t care, well, don’t be. These are life-or-death problems to confront, and now, more than ever, we should be listening to our black friends, peers, and loved ones (only when they want to share!) as we all process and grieve the shared injustices they face.

Take action

Act Blue
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Black Lives Matter
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Campaign Zero
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Black Visions Collective
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Reclaim the Block Fund
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  1. Michael

    June 2, 2020 1:18 pm

    Wanna be respectful here, so please don’t take this as trolling, but it sounds really inconsistent to hate being called the n-word while using it so casually. It gives the word two meanings. One is a term of endearment and brotherhood (in a general sense) and the other is the most disrespectful thing you could say to someone. Hearing you all talk about your stance on the n-word and then use the n-word so many times really stood out. It’s painful to think that you (Nakel, Kevin, Mikey) want to refer to each other using a word that can be so harmful.

    Also, to what Mikey said, putting a group characteristic on an individual is what we’re trying to get away from, isn’t it? You’re talking to one white person saying first they wanted to colonize land and then bodies (slavery) and now words. How is it appropriate to attribute those things to one white individual?

    Thanks Nakel, Kevin, and Mikey for being so honest and open about all of this. Putting yourself out there and speaking up shows real character.

    • op is a dumbass

      June 2, 2020 10:18 pm

      You’re white

    • skincolour does not matter for that comment

      June 4, 2020 9:06 am

      u got a point. thinking the same here and fpr that reason the colour of the skin does not matter one bit.
      calling someone a nigger is wrong no matter what colour of skin you are while saying it.

  2. Skatebeer

    June 2, 2020 1:35 pm

    I personally find it strange that Americans are now ultra-concerned with issues and challenges that have been proceeding in other countries for many years. Widespread disease, class system discrimination, injustice, etc. Doesn’t make it acceptable, just makes it in our faces now. And yes, “All Lives Matter,” but right now Black Lives need to be the focus in this country.

    P.S. I do apologize for my earlier comment that generalized an entire race as “good skaters” or physically superior. Positive or not, it highlights potential characteristics that a person has no control over. Using the word “they” to describe any cultural or ethnic group is ignorant. I am prejudice against ignorance. Regardless of color, background, religion, etc.

    I sincerely appreciate Nakel for speaking publicly, despite his reluctance and nervousness.

  3. Michael Abbey

    June 2, 2020 3:54 pm

    It must have taken a lot of courage for them to say this stuff. Very powerful and illuminating.

  4. Grey

    June 2, 2020 4:24 pm

    This is the best thing in skateboarding right now. The skate industry has always turned a blind eye to racism, fronting like skating is the great equalizer. Soany companies reposted Thrasher’s post, but nothing else. Or some vague shit about unity and coming together. They can’t even say black lives matter. Thank you Nak. Thank you. I’ve been really disappointed in how the skate industry and skaters have addressed the current situation. Lots of these dudes whole persona and brand is built of black culture. They use it to sell. It’s made them who they are. But they aren’t saying shit except “unity”… Or posting pics of black and white skaters together… That’s corny as fuck. Thank you Nak, and thank you Kevin.

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