A centuries-old activity is gaining renewed momentum.
Roller skating, once considered something for the posh and wealthy, has undergone a transformation with Black skating culture leading the trend. There’s evidence that the Indianapolis Black skate culture goes back roughly 70 years or more.
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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For a time, to experience Black skating culture, you had to be there.
Today, social media and the internet allows people to share the skating culture across platforms. Sometimes in that process, the originators get forgotten.
The COVID-19 pandemic closed people off from a lot but the separation opened a door to artistic and creative expression.
Skater LaMone Rogers said, “Seems like since the pandemic has come into play, we been able to keep our rinks open.”
“It’s just a culture, and it’s an ongoing thing,” said Lowell Harris. Both are members of the Naptown Real Rollers Skate Club.
That’s the experience of Jocelyn Goode, founding director of a website called the African African Roller-Skate Museum. A dancer and painter by trade, the art of skating resonated with her. “You know, I was in the thrust of just being filled with so much passion and my life.”
Based out of New York, Goode created her multimedia, digital museum format to reach across the country.
“The mission of the museum is to promote culture through the lens of the African American experience, while also including it with other art forms,” Goode said.
Skaters from all backgrounds have picked up stylized movements created in predominantly Black skating rinks. Goode said a need to push Black skate culture into the mainstream continues to exist so it can create opportunities for Black skaters to also be recognized and rewarded.
“The biggest issue of today is TikTok, you know, and white skaters being credited with moves that come from within our culture,” Goode said, “and they are re-sharing it and not realizing the importance and the gravity of giving credit to where they got it from.”
Skating videos appear across all social platforms. But, those are not always representative of the originating culture. Web surfers can find Black skate culture videos in a more pointed search.
“What’s happening now is you’re seeing a lot of collaborations with these creators, African American creators who are on Instagram and they are getting paid opportunities.”
She adds that there is value in targeting and calling out cultural appropriation.
“Black art is definitely on the rise. Black culture is definitely on the rise, and we need to take advantage of this and be proud of ourselves.”
Goode said she’s is trying to take skate collaborative work further. Raising money and developing a prototype app called Easy! Go Skate to help people organize their roller-skate social lives by finding skating events, spaces and lessons.