Taking up a well deserved space in the skate community is an organization that aims to make skating - in all its forms - an equitable, visible, and safe space for everyone. With an emphasis on amplifying the voices of those who identify as womxn and people of color, Black Girls Skate (BGS) is bringing an otherwise intimidating realm of sports straight into the palms of those who have never found them to be accessible.
Founder of BGS, DJ Gooden, grew up skateboarding on the east coast where she didn’t feel a connection to the skate culture there. After college, Gooden moved to LA and was immediately inspired by the surrounding skate community. However, there was a missing piece. Gooden wasn’t seeing skaters that looked like her. In response to this lack of representation, DJ Gooden took a deep dive into the black history of skating, where she was introduced to professional skateboarders Samarria Brevard and Stephanie Person.
"These women are professional skaters, and I had never heard of them! At this point, I had been skating for over two decades," said Gooden. "I was kind of upset, so I went to Instagram and was like, I'm going to blast this news to everyone - that started Black Girls Skate."
It has been four years since that initial Instagram post, and Black Girls Skate has grown into a successful foundation that hosts meet-ups, has over 2k participants, donates care boxes full of skate supplies, and continues to share and receive hundreds of motivating videos and photo submissions of girls skateboarding roller skating, and ice skating all over the world.
“What drew me to this organization was seeing how they are uplifting black women and hearing their voices,” said BGS team member Mia Vesely. “Being a part of this [BGS] isn’t about me and my skating, but it’s more about promoting and inspiring people who look like me in a sport I’ve tried before and enjoy.”
Creating a space where people feel like they belong is at the heart of the Black Girls Skate initiative. It serves as an opportunity for its members to begin feeling comfortable taking up space in places where they may not see themselves and ultimately changing the skate community around them for the better. “Seeing somebody that looks like you is kind of necessary because when you don’t see people like you doing what you want to do, sometimes it really is that deterrent that keeps you from trying,” said Shaunie Walker, BGS member.
"Skating emerged as a kind of counterculture that has had all these stigmas and emblems of rebellion attached to it. Many of those things have become heavily ingrained in skate culture, but Black Girls Skate is working to change that perception by making the sport more inclusive," said team member Nico DeGallo.
Katelyn grew up surfing in San Diego, California and eventually found her way to Santa Barbara, where she started her education in communication at the University of California Santa Barbara. After graduating in June of 2022, Katelyn still enjoys surfing more than ever, skating, snowboarding, camping, and hanging out at the beach. She currently works as the Public Relations and Communication intern for Withitgirl.
All photos courtesy of Black Girl Skate
Black Girls Skate Instagram
Black Girls Skate Website
BGS members featured in this interview:
Nico DeGallo Instagram
Mia Vesely Instagram
Shaunie Walker Instagram
D.J. Gooden Instagram
Skater: Samarria Brevard Instagram
Skater: Stephanie Person Instagram
Photographer: Kash Bradford Instagram
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