When you picture a surfer out on the waves, who comes to mind?
If the image was anything but a Black person, you wouldn’t be alone. But the face of surfing is changing, and Eromomen Esoimeme and Arielle Saturné, the pioneers and founders of the novel sport collective Adventure Crew, are hoping to change that.
“We’re trying to reclaim spaces and things that, historically, we’ve been locked out of,” Eromomen says. “So you know, that idea of ‘Oh, that’s for white people.’ We’re taking all that back.”
Growing up in Oakland, California, Eromomen never really found spaces where she saw Black people openly participating in novel sports like mountain climbing or surfing. “I grew up going to festivals, but not really surfing,” she says. “I didn’t have examples of Black people surfing. So when I would see surfing, it looked cool, but [there was this idea] that was only for white people.”
Arielle agrees. “I’m from LA, born and raised. And I would go to the beach but never surf. So to have this newfound community is really, really fulfilling.”
When Was The Last Time You Tried Something New?
The events of last year were a game-changer for all of us. With people reevaluating their futures or life in general, there’s clearly never been a better time to try something new. “I think coming out of the pandemic, a lot of people have a new reverence for life,” Eromomen says. For both her and Arielle, it meant acknowledging that it was time to get out there and try something they’d never tried.
From that, Adventure Crew was born. The duo set out to create a space for people of color who were just looking to get in on some of those new experiences outdoors. And while the pair often had the chance to dive into those experiences — literally, they were routinely going on adventures skydiving, parasailing, hiking and more — they noticed a growing interest from people looking to connect to share those experiences.
“We thought it would be a good idea because people haven’t had physical contact or that sense of community in so long, and we thought we’d open up our adventures to everyone else.” The bonus was having the chance to connect with other adventurous people of color, something that many don’t get exposure to often.
Overcoming Waves of Obstacles
Though the world of outdoor sports is still opening up, the unfortunate reality for many people of color is that the canyon between them and those experiences is quite wide. For many people new to outdoor sports, even venturing out and crossing those bridges can seem impossible.
Eromomen knows access is one of the core problems. “Arielle and I talk about this often,” she says. “In the hood, some people have never been to the beach, and the beach is five miles away.” She also points out that lack of resources can create its own barriers. Things like equipment, transportation and boards can often come at a premium. “If the funds are not there, that option is instantly canceled.”
Another real obstacle is the discrimination that many Black surfers feel when they’re out on the water. Racism in the sport is nothing new, and both Eromomen and Arielle have faced their own fair share of it while hitting the waves. Arielle notes, “There’s a real sense of intimidation that happens when you’re out there. We’ve been there where we felt, like, ‘Okay, there’s another energy that’s here.’”
Diving In Anyway
While there are setbacks for people of color pioneering in the world of surfing and other novel sports, there’s a world of possibility too. One of the goals of Adventure Crew is to open up the doors to access. “We found that a lot of people are more willing to try things that they’ve never done before when they feel a sense of welcome and a sense of safety” Arielle recounts.
And that has led to some beautiful moments that really drive home why they do this. Eromomen recalls the moment when it really hit home for her. “A woman who came to join us was like, ‘This is so beautiful!’ and she cried! She was like, ‘I’ve never seen this before. I would love to bring my nephew.’ And that’s why we do it.”
That’s the soul of the whole experience: creating a community where Black people feel like they belong and can be free to live their best life, anywhere. “All are welcome,” Arielle says. “But we’re trying to prioritize us. Let’s have fun. Let’s get outside. Let’s build community.”
If you’re interested in joining the Adventure Crew on its next trip, join the email list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Nike Play New.