Over at WNYC here’s Stephen Nessen on the black surfing scene that’s taking over in the Rockaways:
Locals say [Brian] James was one of the first black surfers on the scene when he began catching waves here in 1997. And even though the shores are thousands of miles away from the once-exclusively white beaches of California, where the sport was popularized in the U.S., James said he faced racism here too.
“It was tough in the beginning,” he said. “Lot of racial epithets hurled out in water. Lot of arguing. But me personally, I let them know I wasn’t going for it. They got a problem we can settle it on the beach.”
Sauntering down the crowded beach on a recent Saturday with the top half of his wet suit hanging down, is another staple of the local surf scene: Louis Harris. The 41-year-old personal trainer from Long Island said it was James who inspired him to try surfing.
“I was like, ‘Wow, people surf out here.’ I then I saw BJ and I was like, ‘Wow black guy surfing?’” Harris said. “And they were all crowding around him like he was freaking Mick Jagger or something.”
But Harris said when he walks with a surfboard, he still gets chastised.
“It’s the black people that say ‘Black people don’t surf. Yo man, what you doing with a surf board man? Black people don’t surf.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, are you kidding?’ Harris said.