07 June 2005

Got Melanin?

I know what you're saying. "What the hell does that mean?" I have a shirt with that slogan on the front of it. I bring this up because of a conversation I had with someone while out in the water at Sunset. I was feelin' it again today, so I was the kook magnet personified. It seemed like I had a conversation with everyone in the water. Anyway, there was a guy who kept waiting for one last good wave to take him in. Since it was a less than epic day at Sunset, it took awhile for that wave to materialize. In the meantime, he and I had a chance to chat. At one point during the conversation, he talked about having been in the water so long one day last week that he got a serious tan/burn. I think he said, "I was out for so long that when I got out, I looked like . . . an aborigine." I laughed and replied, "Oh, you mean you looked like me!" Well, that comment was enough to make us both howl. So, okay, this brings me to my point: should I wear sunscreen or shouldn't I? For decades, I've been of the belief that black folks, being of mainly African descent, don't need it. More melanin, more sun protection. Since I'm not light-skinned, I don't burn and I assume the sun and I are on good terms. But, see, then some of my non-black surf friends keep telling me to wear it. Then I think, "Maybe you need it, but why do I have to wear it?" I vacillate on this issue, especially given the fact that my child's pediatrician wants us to put sunscreen on him. She argues that the deterioration of the ozone layer dictates that all kids, even black kids, wear sunscreen when outside for long periods. Do we ever remember to put sunscreen on him? Rarely. It's not that I don't love him. It's just that I don't think about this issue much and, until about two weeks ago, didn't really have any sunscreen. As it stands now, I am wearing it when I surf. I don't wear it when I ride, which makes me think I'm kind of defeating the purpose of putting it on when I surf.

Today's session was just fine. I was in a great mood today. The end of the semester is in sight. I have a bunch of 10 page papers to read before Thursday, but as of this morning (when I went to surf) I didn't have those papers yet, thus the pressure to get them graded was the last thing on my mind. I went to Sunset. Pacific Waverider listed it as "fair". I didn't think the conditions at my break rose to the level of "fair" during a SW swell. I had a good day in the water. I was feelin' it again, so much so that someone remarked about how hard I was charging. I wanted the few waves that were out there and went for them. I wasn't quite a wavehog, but I was close. There weren't too many people out. As a result, it didn't feel crowded out there. Someone I'd seen out there in the past was trying to talk me into going to Malibu, saying she was surprised she hadn't seen me out there. I don't know that I'm mentally ready for that kind of crowd. But now that she's put the thought in my head, I'll probably venture there one weekday. I'm actually looking forward to the end of the summer. As most of us in L.A. know, the true heat doesn't arrive until August and September. By that time, the schools will be back in session. I'll still be teaching two classes, but this time I'll only be working two days a week. Right now, I work four days a week and can only do day trips on Fridays. But come August, I'll be free to do them on other weekdays. And since I'll be teaching two different sections of the same class, my class preparation will be minimal next semester (especially when one considers that I taught that class this semester and will teach it again over the summer). Less class preparation, more time to surf. Life is good.


At 6/8/05, 11:05 AM, Anonymous Stacy said...

A while back a black woman (okay, African-American -- surfsister, it's your blog, what do YOU want me to use?)at work came up to me, held her arm up and said, "I just got back from vacation. See my tan?" I looked at her blankly and said, "You know that for white people that's a trick question, right? There's no right answer."

At 6/8/05, 11:28 AM, Blogger gracefullee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/8/05, 11:30 AM, Blogger gracefullee said...

I just did a quick search and found this article.

It mentions that darker skin does protect from UV rays better than whiter skin, but that doesn't mean you should forget about sunscreen.

At 6/8/05, 11:42 AM, Anonymous riab said...

You bring up a good discussion topic. I myself am allergic to sunscreen. I've tried everything from the generic Sav-On brand to custom brews from different dermatologists to Desitin (out of sheer desperation) and all gave me v. painful rashes. I'm hoping that coming from a Pacific island nation will count for something. But having said that if I weren't allergic to sunscreen I would definitely slap that stuff on.

At 6/8/05, 7:59 PM, Anonymous surfnart said...

Re: tanning & sunscreen.
All in moderation.
A base tan is good & kids need the vitamin D.
( You know how the polar bears at the LA Zoo do not develop that extra layer of fat living here...well if you're going to live in this latitude, some natural protection is good.) How about all the chemicals in sunscreen, too much cetly phospahte can't be all good either.

Dawn patrol !


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