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.
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