5 Black-Owned Skate Brands on How You Can Support the Community

The founders speak on their businesses and investing in Black skaters and shops.

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Ongoing demands for justice and actionable change have sparked a profound evaluation of how systemic racism operates across many communities. The skate world too has seen it’s own reckoning. Na-Kel Smith took to Instagram to share his experiences of racism throughout his career, and others in the sport have also come forward to share similar experiences.

This moment has underscored the importance of actionable steps, especially investing in anti-racist causes and supporting Black-owned skate businesses. Many skate brands have contributed sales of select merchandise to crucial organizations, and The Black List, curated by Patrick Kigongo, assembles over a hundred skate shops and brands across the world.

HYPEBEAST spoke to the founders of five Black-owned skate brands about their businesses and got their recs on skaters and causes to support.

Mikey Alfred of Illegal Civ, North Hollywood

How would you describe the ethos of your brand in a few words?

I love this question because it’s another opportunity for me to say we’re the first teen movie studio (laughs). At Illegal Civ, we believe in pushing skateboarding to new heights. We are “The First Teen Movie Studio”! We make skate videos, short films and feature films.

What are some actions individual skaters can take to address racism in the skate world?

Skaters in general are not racist. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some situations where fools called us the n-word: watch the end of this video. The guy in the video apologized recently on Instagram. It came a few years too late though. His sponsors kicked him off because there were multiple stories of him saying the n-word.

Saying all that to say though, I’ve been skating since I was 10, and that was one of the only times I experienced blatant racism. I couldn’t say the same for any other long term activity I’ve been a part of.

Skaters are the best. Skating creates a bond between people of all genders, religions and races.

Any recommendations for skate videos, Instagram accounts to follow, or other brands you support?

@illegalciv! (laughs).

A cause or fund you recommend supporting?

Imagine power as a yellow brick road. No matter, film, music, government or any other institution that involves a lot of people, at the end of the yellow brick power road, the room is white. Until the nucleus of power becomes more diverse, we’ll keep having problems. I believe in spreading positivity and having fun, so I hope on the other side of all this stuff we can see real change and get back to having fun!

Jordan Thrower of Tantrum, San Diego

How would you describe the ethos of your brand in a few words?

Tantrum is for everyone and is here to show the already existing diversity in skateboarding.

What are some actions individual skaters can take to address racism in the skate world?

Skateboarders as individuals need to realize that racism against Black people in skateboarding does fully exist. We might skate with someone from a different race everyday and think that everything is all good, and that simply is not the case regardless of how diverse skateboarding is. Skateboarders need to educate one another and also check people that are engaging in racism.

Any recommendations for skate videos, Instagram accounts to follow, or other brands you support?

My friends Min Maeweather and Naquan Rollings are both Black videographers who make amazing videos. (See videos from Maeweather and Rollings). Arts-Rec [is] a skate shop in San Diego owned by Kellen James who is one of my favorite skateboarders.

A cause or fund you recommend supporting?

We made a benefit shirt and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to Black Lives Matter and ACLU. We still have some available!

Tyshawn Jones of Hardies Hardware, New York and Los Angeles

How would you describe the ethos of your brand in a few words?

Hardies is a brand but it’s more of a family, we are just a bunch of friends doing our thing and making what we like. We all pitch in, we all roll up our sleeves and we get it done.

What are some actions individual skaters can take to address racism in the skate world?

See something, say something, and do not let up.

Any recommendations for skate videos, Instagram accounts to follow, or other brands you support?

I watch all Illegal Civilization films and I support that brand always. Follow @tastesogoodbx and @thatsonme.

A cause or donation fund you recommend supporting?
I recently supported the Brooklyn Bail Fund and Black Lives Matter.

Vlad of Public Housing Skate Team, The Bronx, New York

How would you describe the ethos of your brand in a few words?

Authentic Hood Skate Gear.

What are some actions individual skaters can take to address racism in the skate world?

Publicly call out anyone saying racist shit and stop supporting racist skate brands and shops. Also taking durags off any white boy’s head.

Any recommendations for skate videos, Instagram accounts to follow, or other brands you support?

Kareem Campbell’s “World Industries Trilogy” part.

A cause or donation fund you recommend supporting?

Support Black people directly: in your communities both online and in real life. I don’t like recommending funds as many of them lack transparency on how they distribute the funds.

Kellen James of Arts-Rec, San Diego

How would you describe the ethos of your brand in a few words?

Our space caters to skateboarding, art and music. Arts-Rec was built to be an open platform to the entire community, and Barrio Logan is at the epicenter. Our retail, ramp and outdoor event space is open to anyone and everyone we feel is a good fit to work/collaborate with. We hand built and curated every square inch of Arts-Rec, but at the same time, the canvas remains blank.

Any recommendations for skate videos, Instagram accounts to follow, or other brands you support?

@blmsandiego [and] @rollingforrightssd.

A cause or donation fund you recommend supporting?

We recently did a collaborative T-shirt that allowed us to make a sizable donation to @colorofchange. Color Of Change designs campaigns to challenge decision makers and hold them accountable for policies and practices that promote inequality.

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