The Black Origins Of Surfing

black man holding a surfboard on a beach
Briona Lamback
July 6, 2022

Like swimming and other watersports, many people consider surfing "white people activities," but this is one of THEIR biggest lies. When it comes to surfing, we did it first!

Popular histories claim that Polynesians were the only people to develop surfing, that the first written account of surfing was in Hawaii in 1778, or that white filmmaker, Bruce Brown, introduced surfing to West Africa.  

According to professor and author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, Kevin Dawson, none of this is true! The first known written account of wave-riding was in the 1640s in present-day Ghana.

Surfing swelled with economic opportunities for coastal Africans to reach offshore fisheries; As early as the 1400's they designed surf-canoes that could slice through ten-foot-high waves.

White supremacy campaigned to convince the world water wasn't meant for us, yet tides hug African coastlines for over 18,000 miles. Surf-canoemen taught whites surfing when many could barely swim!

Accounts indicate that by the 1700s, enslaved people were surfing or surf-canoeing everywhere - from South Carolina to Brazil. Today collectives like Black Girls Surf and Mami Wata continue this rich legacy.

White supremacy has always tried to drown us out, even when we've taught them everything they know. We must know the truth about our people, so we never have to suffer like fish out of water from their “white” lies!

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