From California to Indonesia, Australia and Senegal, black girls and supporters floated on surfboards yesterday to pay tribute to George Floyd, the black man whose murder in U.S. police custody has sparked protests worldwide.
The “Solidarity in Surfing” events in more than 100 locations were organized by Black Girls Surf, a group established in 2014 to teach the sport to girls of colour aged 5 to 17.
Image credit Idaho State Journal
In Santa Monica, California, about 200 surfers of various ages and races gathered under cloudy skies on a stretch of beach once known as Inkwell Beach, a place where black Californians sought an oceanfront refuge in the 20th century.
The event started as a tribute to honour Floyd and all those who were victims of the police’s brutality, said Sayuri Blondt, 29, a local coordinator for Black Girls Surf.
The surfers splashed into the water for a paddle out, a traditional Hawaiian ceremony to celebrate the life of someone who was so cruelly killed. About 200 yards offshore, they also held a moment of silence while floating on their boards in a large circle, and placed yellow, pink and red flowers in the water.
Some had written “Black Lives Matter” on their surfboards as a sign of support for the protests that are taking place across the globe. Panpan Wang, 37, also chose to display the names of black people killed by police on his chest.
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Rhonda Harper, who founded Black Girls Surf after seeing that black women were underrepresented among professional surfers, said the group aimed to show “there can be solidarity in all of this violence.”
“I wanted the young girls to see that people do care,” Harper said via phone from Senegal.
One person on the Santa Monica beach asked how others could support Black Girls Surf. Blondt responded that the group would welcome donations of surfboards or wetsuits.
“When you are out in the ocean surfing and you do see a woman of colour, just be friendly with her and help her to feel welcome in the ocean,” she said. “That’s the biggest -but unfortunately still not taken for granted- thing.”
A surf paddle out in memory of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody, in Santa Monica, California, U.S. Image credit Reuters, Lucy Nicholson