Black Girls Surf Hosts International Paddle Out to Protest Racism, Police Brutality
Black Girls Surf took to beaches in California as well as Senegal.
An organization launched to promote the inclusivity of young Black women in surfing hosted a multi-location paddle out on July 11 to protest racism and police brutality.
Established in 2014, Black Girls Surf took to beaches in both Santa Monica and Santa Cruz, California, as well as the N’gor Village in Dakar, Senegal, and were welcoming all to join.
“We continue…July 11th at 6:00 PM at Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz, CA,” the organization wrote on Instagram.
“The family of Tamario Smith will be present. Please follow all COVID guidelines and city ordinances. Masks are required at this event. If you have extra wetsuits or life jackets the family could definitely use them. Thank you again for standing up in solidarity.”
Rhonda Harper, who founded the organization and has coordinated each demonstration, discussed the motivation behind the paddle outs from her temporary housing in Senegal, where she has been unable to leave due to recently-implemented travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19.
“I don’t consider myself stuck,” Harper told Sunset. “I’m here for a reason. I’m where I need to be.”
International solidarity against police violence may not have been what Harper envisioned when she first started Black Girls Surf, but the organization wasted no time to band together as a vehicle of positive change—and she has no plans of stopping.
“These paddle outs are going to continue,” she said. “We keep adding names of people who die because of racism in America. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery. Every time this happens, we’re going to go paddle out. We’ll stop when they stop.”
Harper said the diversity of surfers participating in the paddle outs has been immensely encouraging. The awareness raised during each event, meanwhile, offers a glimpse of what the organization can accomplish with the future generations of Black surfers.
Those who wish to get involved with Black Girls Surf are welcomed to do so through various means, Harper said.
“We always need instructors,” she said, adding that the tremendous number of girls interested in participating has yielded the welcome problem of struggling to fulfilling the instructional needs of individual communities.
Supplies are also limited, Harper said, especially in places like Senegal where wetsuits, surfboards, and other accessories are extraordinarily difficult to come by.
“These kids here are surfing on half a board or boards that are beyond repair,” she said. “Still, it’s amazing to see how positive they are about the things they have. And they hold them dear.”
Beyond participation in the paddle outs or volunteering for instruction, those interested in supporting Black Girls Surf can donate to the organization’s GoFundMe page. Funds go toward providing equipment to hopeful surfers in places like Senegal.