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‘We want to reshape the scene’: the skaters bringing diversity to board riding

Long the preserve of white boys, skateboarding is becoming more diverse – thanks in part to this east London crew

Long the preserve of white boys, skateboarding is becoming more diverse – thanks in part to this east London crew

Marie Mayassi, who describes herself as being “born in Paris but originally from Congo”, pushes along the smooth, flat ground of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. 

When she took up skateboarding four years ago, she noticed straight away the scene’s lack of diversity. “Representation is all: you cannot be what you cannot see,” she said. 

So, she resolved to be the change. Mayassi started Melanin Skate Gals and Pals; a black-led initiative aimed at increasing participation by people of colour. Mayassi (far right) is pictured above with Indigo King, Christana Amadi, and Marcia Mijnhijmer from the group. 

“By encouraging anyone who doesn’t feel like they belong or are represented in the skate community, we want to reshape, decolonise and de-gender skate culture and the scene,” Mayassi said. 

The group’s meetups, on the former Olympic grounds in east London, provide a safe space, a chance for more people to see skateboarding as something for them. 

The sport has taken steps towards inclusivity over the past few years, with a huge increase in the number of women and girls participating (at one point it was the fastest-growing demographic in action sports), but a conversation about racism, intersectionality and representation is yet to happen properly. 

We want to reshape, decolonise and de-gender skate culture and the scene

Recently, Mayassi and her crew were photographed for a photographic series, To Balance is Trust, which showcased women and non-binary skaters and their stories. 

“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,” Mayassi explained.

Main image: Hannah Bailey

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