Young women getting ready to surf at the Black Girls Surf Camp in Dakar, Senegal in January. Photos: Ricci Shryock

Whoever Said Surfing Is for White People Never Met These Women

A growing number of Black and Brown enthusiasts are joining the scene

yolanda evans
ZORA
Published in
6 min readJan 28, 2020

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FFor a child of the 1980s, the way to learn about other cultures and places from around the world was via TV, books, or encyclopedias. Although I loved to read and let my imagination run wild, TV was my method of choice: in particular, old classic movies with beautiful locations and stories I dared to dream about. And it was on Turner Movie Classics (TMC) where I first saw Gidget, a romantic romp where Sandra Dee played a tomboy who fell in love with surfing. I was enthralled with surfing as it was a new phenomenon I had never heard of. The thought of riding waves in California or other far-flung places and to be a beach bum was my new life goal.

But just because I thought this was something I could do doesn’t mean others agreed with me. When I told my best friend at the time and her cousin, they both looked at each other and said, “This is not for us,” as she gestured to all three of us. Confused, I stated that just because they didn’t want to do it, I still would be a surfer. Laughing a little, my friend’s cousin stated, “Don’t you get it; this is not something Black people do. Unless you want people to think you’re an Oreo, you better keep this surfing nonsense to yourself.”

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yolanda evans
ZORA
Writer for

Drink + Travel writer on the run! I travel the world to drink and seek out obscure booze knowledge.