BLACK HISTORY MONTH SERIES



It's about that time again for our favorite celebration of the year, Black History Month (BHM)! We all know Black History Month should be celebrated everyday, but at BLACK SKATER CHICK we find it very important to showcase the narratives of people of African descent in skateboarding and actions sports. This is one of the main reasons the BLACK SKATER CHICK project was created in February 2012. Also, looking back I realize the tradition of storytelling during BHM influenced my fascination with uncovering the untold, invisible and hidden stories. Throughout this month we will continue showcasing the stories of black pioneers in action sports and skateboarding.



BLACK SKATER CHICK's Top 5 Snow Day Movie Picks

Hey BSC Family, I know a lot of you on the East Coast are enjoying the blizzard. Here's some skating, snowboarding and surfing movies to check out over the weekend snow day.

1. Getting Nowhere Faster (2004)- The ultimate classic all girl skateboarding movie and one my favorites.  
Featuring: Amy Caron, Vanessa Torres,Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins, Alex White, Kenna Gallagher, Faye Jaime, Lauren Mollica, Van Nguyen, Elizabeth Nitu, Nugget, Stefanie Thomas,Patiane Frietas & Lauren Perkins



2.  White Wash (2011)- The documentary discusses the intersection of surfing, race and identity through the experiences of black surfers from the  continental US, Hawaii, Mexico and Jamaica. Available for only $1.99 on AmazonVideo. 

Featuring: Many surfers including, Andrea Kabwasa and Sal Masekela 



3. 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story- Another documentary about surfing and race, 12 miles North describes the life of Nick Gabaldon, the first documented surfer African-American and Mexican descent.


4. Too Hard (2012)- The sickest women in snowboarding shred it out on the mountains. 

Featuring: Gabby Maiden (the first African-American woman of competitive snowboarding), Danyale Patterson, Fancy Rutherford, Darrah Reid-McClean, Desiree Melancon, Joanie Robichaud,Madison Blackley, Merry Raid, Taylor Elliot, Alice Gorton, Alexa McCarty, Marie-Andree Racine, Joelle “JJ” Juchli,  Marie Hucal, Gillian Andrewshenko, Vanessa Moore, Sara Berdayes, Luci Imbach, and Jesse Huege.




5. Faces of Africa : Surfers Not Street Children (2015)- The documentary follows the life of Ntando Msibi, 18, who through the charity, Surfers Not Street Children, becomes a surfing star while overcoming the negative issues of growing up as kid living on the streets of South Africa. 







BLACK SURFER CHICK: Haben Girma, Surfer & 1st Deafblind Harvard Law Graduate


Haben Girma, 35, is the first deaf-blind Harvard Law Graduate and an avid surfer. Haben was introduced to the sport through the sub-genre of tandem surfing. The Encyclopedia of Surfing defines tandem surfing as “any two people riding the same board at once." Originating in Hawaii during the early 1900s, tandem surfing involves a tall surfer (usually a man) lifting a shorter surfer (a woman) over his/her head in different positions. Both surfers must balance on the surfboard while shifting into poses and contortions reminiscent of yoga and gymnastics. 

Check out Haben Tandem Surfing!


In a local interview at Swami's Beach in Encinitas, California, Haben said: “Surfing is fun for me because it's nice to be out in the ocean. The ocean is huge! And the ocean is symbolic of all the possibilities out there“(CB8, 2013). Haben’s life is also symbolic of the many possibilities available when one wants to succeed in a society where people with disabilities face discrimination. Born to Eritrean refugees, she had the opportunity to attend schools tailored to people with disabilities (which was not available to deaf-blind children in Eritrea) and she excelled in her studies, going on to attend Harvard Law School (NPR, 2015).In 2015, Haben introduced President Obama at the White House Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, in 2013, she was awarded as the White House Champion for Change. Presently, a disability civil rights attorney, Haben works to advocate for others with deaf-blindness and the use of technology as a way to help them communicate.

(Girma, 2016)

Haben describes surfing as learning another way to communicate without the technology she uses daily (a digital Braille device) that is not compatible in water. She said, “I’ve been preparing for surf lessons by thinking about all the different ways people can communicate without using their voices or using hearing or vision,' she said. 'So thinking about tactile ways to communicate different surfing position, getting familiar with surfboards and getting familiar with the surf communicate' (DailyMail, 2016).

(JETTYGIRL,2016)
Haben has conquered many turbulent waves in her life and now surfs over the undulations, literally. She defines success as emerging through trial and error: “Success comes about through lots of failure and I’m not afraid to fall. I’m not afraid to get in the water, try something new, look silly for a little bit” (Washington Post, 2016).


Check out Habena surfing at Surf Diva School!















Haben's fearless attitude has not only helped her to excel in the field of law but also in surfing. She also enjoys kayaking and rock-climbing. It is a testament to her success today.

What excuses do you have? Get out there and surf! I am so inspired by Haben's story. It also presents another discussion about disability within the skateboarding and action sports community. 

Lets Give Haben a Shout Out!

Follow Her on Twitter: @HabenGirma

Check out these videos to learn more about Haben’s life and her advocacy: