Black Surfers Make Waves in Surfing Documentary, Playing Sept. 16 in Santa Monica

Santa Monica's "Inkwell"—the only Westside location where people of color could reportedly congregate—is featured in the film, titled "White Wash." Public Library hosts screening Sept. 16.

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.

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Brenda Barnes August 30, 2012 at 09:05 PM
September 16 is a Sunday. Is that date correct?
Jenna Chandler (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Hi Brenda! Sept. 16 is the date listed in the city's press release http://www.smgov.net/Main/News_Tab/Santa_Monica_Public_Library_presents_a_Screening_and_Discussion_of_the_Documentary_Film_White_Wash.aspx
Brenda Barnes August 31, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I checked the library schedule, which also says this. I'm really interested in how Santa Monica has consistently eliminated black neighborhoods, which is related intimately to racist actions such as keeping blacks from learning to swim and then keeping them out of sports requiring swimming, so I'll publicize this. This actually is a matter of life-and-death, as Katrina showed. I also know from having been married to a champion high school water polo coach in the 70s that blacks can swim and compete in water sports as well as anyone, but all the effects of generations of discrimination have to be undone. First they have to be acknowledged. The link for the library listing is calendar.smgov.net/library/eventcalendar.asp.


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