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Black Surf Santa Cruz

Organization Mission

Black Surf Santa Cruz (BSSC) promotes physical, spiritual, and communal healing through surfing, education, and recreation.

BSSC centers Black community members, Indigenous community members, and other historically and presently excluded people of color in its programming, and invites the entire extended community to create inclusive surf, ocean recreation, and marine sustainability spaces.

The Big Idea 2024:
Black Surf Santa Cruz Youth Cohort

We will launch our first cohorts specifically for Black youth and other youth of color throughout Santa Cruz County. In a community centered around coastal culture, all residents and visitors benefit from our efforts to dismantle barriers that limit participation in coastal recreation, whether participants have experienced a lack of safety, an unwelcoming environment, or lack of the knowledge and skills to feel at home.

This project will involve community building through shared time at events such as communal meals and trips to the beach, skill building by learning about water safety both in the pool and along the coast (how to protect head and neck, read tide charts, etc.), leadership building through opportunities to engage in advocacy and access issues, recreation, environment and environmental justice.

Youth will feel a sense of safety and connection by learning together, forming meaningful bonds with one another and with Black Surf Santa Cruz as an organization, and feeling a sense of place and belonging in Santa Cruz County as valued community members on land and at sea.

When I think of surfing, I think of the stereotype of young white privileged males and females. I am not young or white, and the stereotype I have had contributes to my anxiety about not fitting in. I have been to the ocean many times as a child and an adult. I know how to swim, have boogie boarded, and enjoy fishing off the shore and on boats. It is still the same as when I grew up: predominantly white. Not fitting in and possibly being targeted have contributed to me not trying to surf earlier: feelings of disappointing myself or others by not performing well, and overthinking that if I fall off the board I might be unable to get back on. I'm full of gratitude to Bella, Black Surf, and all who contributed to invite me and my son to enjoy the experience together. I felt inspired to go out again, participate in Black Surf, contribute to help others experience the ocean and bring people together, as well as to get into better shape.

Anonymous participant