A documentary exploring race in America through the history of black surfers, White Wash, will screen Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Santa Monica Library.
Narrated by Ben Harper and Tariq "Blackthought" Trotter of the hip hop group, The Roots, the 78-minute movie features contemporary interviews with professional and vocational surfers and scholars, along with historical film footage. Santa Monica's "Ink Well"—the only Westside location where people of color could reportedly congregate—is prominently featured.
A discussion will follow the screening. Panelists include director Ted Woods; blacksurfing.com founder Rick Blocker; and Alison Rose Jefferson, historian and University of California, Santa Barbara doctoral student.
Jefferson wrote the language engraved on the plaque, "The Ink Well: A Place of Celebration and Pain," which commemorates the Jim Crow-era beach site, and honors Nick Gabaldon, believed to known surfer of African American and Mexican descent. A reception will follow the event.
In a New York Times review, arts reporter Rachel Saltz said the film is "part history lesson, part sports film, part polemical essay:"
One point comes through loud and clear: “black people don’t surf” is something that whites and blacks seem to believe in equal measure. It goes along with the stereotype that blacks can’t swim. Some of the most interesting parts of Mr. Woods’s film deal with that topic, showing how African-Americans were excluded from swim culture and public pools. Many beaches were segregated too, and footage of the police pulling blacks out of the water during “wade-ins” hasn’t lost its power to shock.
View the trailer at whitewashmovie.com.
The free screening is 2 p.m. in the ’s MLK Jr. Auditorium, at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.