A Letter to Skateboarding
by Ethan K. Singleton
My deepest and most hard-pressing concern, regarding the ripening of the fruit that is the modern day industry of skateboarding, lies somewhere in twilight; neatly tucked between past and present, and the melange of emotions that are sentiment, love, hope and despair. I find it noteworthy that even at this particular moment in time I fail to feel the slightest bit of dread or angst, as we—not simply as skateboarders—but as complex persons around the globe, brace ourselves for the denouement of humanity’s most recent cataclysms. Because the art of skateboarding has taught me many lessons in hope and in optimism I am faithful that the culture, when operating at its most virtuous, might have an astounding and overwhelmingly positive effect on society at large. I believe that the mark of a great society is not just how well it engages in the appropriate dialogue during the most turbulent of times; but more concomitantly, by how well it comes to resolutions, and by the effects of its actionable items. It is to this regard that I believe skateboarding deserves its due diligence.
As it stands, and though it is in many ways flawed, the global skateboard industry is in a great space with plenty of reserves of positive, kinetic energy stored beneath itself. The times may be more turbulent than ever and while the global recession brought about by the COVID-19 crisis has been, just like the recent race-related protests around the world, concededly tragic; I do think that skateboarding has a great power to bring equity and truth into the global cultural atmosphere. Ultimately, and while there has been much debate in this area, I believe that the exposure brought about by the sport’s inclusion in its first ever Olympic games—Tokyo 2021— will give skateboard-related movements around the world the leverage and the resources required to bring equity into very important cultural sectors. The financial stimuli expected from the 2021, 2024, and 2028 Olympics will give aid to plenty of organizations’ pocketbooks, but should ultimately inspire egalitarian fixes at home in the form of sporting and educational programs for youth, whereby skateboarding is used as a vehicle of learning in schools and in academies (from the primary to university level;) and in the form of public art and community garden spaces, with skateboarders being commissioned as architects, designers and sculpture artists for their dutiful eye for art and faithful commitment to the maximization of public, open space. These ideas should be dealt with on a case by case basis, and it is important that they be intimately curated with the specific needs of the surrounding community in mind. We must think deep into the future, considering our educational values and our public needs for space, if we are to be successful in ventures of the sorts.
Although it may look and may feel as though we are midway through a long and very dark tunnel, hope and light should be found in the knowledge that not it is not solely skateboarding that is feeling pressure to grow, but peoples and cultures around the globe are going through similar cases of major internal restructuring. Now is the time, if any, to begin the planning and the blueprinting of a more stable and egalitarian world for ourselves.