The world of skateboarding has been dominated by the typical “white boy” skater, which is what Marie Mayassi, who introduces herself as “born in Paris but originally from Congo,” noticed when she first took up the sport four years ago.
Determined to change the scene’s lack of diversity, she started Melanin Skate Gals and Pals, an initiative whose goal is to encourage people of color to participate in sports that historically have not made space for them. “Representation is all: you cannot be what you cannot see,” is the thinking behind the initiative.
“By encouraging anyone who doesn’t feel like they belong or are represented in the skate community, we want to reshape, decolonize, and de-gender skate culture and the scene,” Mayassi declared.
The group meets on the former Olympic grounds in east London and offers a safe space for curious people to try skateboarding out, and an opportunity for passers-by to see that skateboarding could be something for them.
Skateboarding on the whole has started to become more inclusive in recent years, with a significant jump in the number of women and girls participating in the sport. That said, issues of racism, intersectionality, and representation, have yet to be properly acknowledged.
Mayassi and her group were recently photographed for a photo series called To Balance is Trust, which features snapshots of women and non-binary skaters, accompanied by their background stories. She hopes that this attention will help spread the movement.
“We wanted to show there’s not just one way to be a skater. Anyone with a board is a skater and no one should let people tell them otherwise.”
Source image: Skate Gals & Pals