Were someone to pose that question to me, saying I should answer spontaneously, I would probably admit that "No, I don't see myself in other surfers." I do see other women in the water. I sometimes see other black folks in the water. It's rare that I see other black women in the water. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It's just a thing. When I paddle out, I expect to be stared at. A black woman who surfs is certainly an anomaly. I got over being stared at years ago. The way I see it, the more you stare, the easier it is for me to take your wave. Period. But, as usual, I digress.
Why do I bring this up?
On Friday morning, I met up with three other black female surfers for a session. Yep. Four black chicks in the water at one time, surfing together and throwing it down. I was one of those chicks and I was taken aback by the sight of the four of us sharing a peak.
I prefer not to bring my feelings about race, racism and the like into my surf blog. I've got another blog for those discussions. (Yeah, I know I haven't written in it since November of 2008. We were busy dealing with the layoff, prostate cancer, dead dog and knee replacement. I needed to take a break from personal, often painful, reflections about race.) However, Friday's session forced me to consider how my race, my gender and my surfing intersect.
"That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos. That's some nappy headed hos there. . . . The girls from Tennessee, they all look cute. Kind of like a Spike Lee thing. Jigaboos versus the Wannabes."
Tattoos, huh? I sport five of them. Nappy hair? Call it what you may. I proudly wear my hair in its natural state, free of straightening chemicals and untouched by straightening combs. Hos? Jigaboos? White women face gender bias too, but not to this extent.
"Why are Black people not good swimmers? Because they don't have all the buoyancy."
This stereotype gnaws at me every time I get in the water, whether in a pool or the ocean. I know what people are thinking. Even when they're not thinking it, I know it's in the backs of their minds. You think I'm paranoid, don't you? Try being black for just one day. Then talk to me about the feelings you can't explain, feelings that you know you should dismiss but time and experience have taught you to listen to if only for the sake of safety (when in the presence of strangers).I can't fuck no head doctor I don't give a fuck even if the bitch is proper She might be cute, she might be thick but she will get G'd if she don't suck dick
There's no need for me to identify these lyrics. I'm sure anyone who reads them can identify the genre of music from which such words stem. The speaker is a black male. And the woman in question? What do you think she looks like? Am I being too sensitive when I say these brothers act like that's all we're good for?
Four black women in the water. Throwing it down.
Despite the fact that black people can't swim. In spite of the fact that some take liberties in their generalizations of who we are and what we do.
Four black women surfing.
On that day, I did indeed see myself in Andrea, Suyen and Delila.
Four black women.