The Millennial Resurgence Of Black Skateboarders

Upon first glance, the rise of the sport among black millennials is most likely to be attributed to the visibility of rappers who have ventured into skateboarding.

By Shanna Collins

Thirty years ago, it was laughable to even suggest that skateboarding would become an Olympic sport. On Aug. 3, the International Olympic Committee approved the sport for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, a historic move for the subculture whose participants once prided themselves as being outsiders of the mainstream. The gate appears to be wide open for millennials, and in particular, for black millennials, who appear to be skateboarding in greater numbers than in the past couple of decades in major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, particularly in New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina was said to spark a “skateboarding renaissance” among black youth. However, skateboarding, for black millennials, is not in a renaissance. Rather, it is in a resurgence.

Upon first glance, the rise of the sport among black millennials is most likely to be attributed to the visibility of rappers who have ventured into skateboarding, now that the once underground sub-culture has finally gained commercial success; among those most infamous for attempting to tap into the market are Pharrell Williams, Lil’ Wayne, and most notably, Lupe Fiasco. Fiasco’s 2006 single, “Kick, Push”, a lyrical fable about two misfit skateboarders who eventually find love together as a natural outcome of their passion for the sport. While the emcee received backlash from professional skaters who felt Fiasco was posturing, the record came to be regarded as a instant classic in the hip-hop community, leading to a surge of interest from black youth in cities nationwide.

There is scant history concerning skateboarding within the black community. Despite claims to the contrary, kids from the ‘hood falling in love with skateboarding is not recent phenomena; the subculture has its own history within black communities, particularly on Chicago’s South Side.

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