HEAVY DISCUSSION x KCDC : Racism + Skateboarding

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HEAVY DISCUSSION x KCDC : Racism + Skateboarding

– Hello everybody! Welcome to Heavy Discussion It’s the fifth installment and today’s topic is racism in skateboarding Thanks everyone for joining us pretty much on time I wanted to thank Amy and everyone at KCDC for hosting this event, first of all (all applaud) RB Umali right there on my right for filming, Matt McGinley, he’s gonna be taking photos, so he’s not gonna be some weird lurker dude Kat, who’s doing our sound engineering right there (faint voice talking) (all applaud) Yeah, so this evening’s talk should last about two hours And you’ll notice on all of the seats there are pencils with a blue post-it note Typically, I encourage the audience to write down questions during the event if any should come up while we’re talking And during the break, I’ll collect them and then try to incorporate some of those audience questions into the second half of the panel And the entire evening will be uploaded online at heavydiscussion.com at a later date along with answers to any remaining audience questions All right, so I, this is, I’m gonna start out and every time I put these together I kinda just freestyle it and I, it’s like a term paper that you just show up for, like, the next day or something So the first thing on people’s minds must’ve been when they saw the topic racism in skateboarding, “What does racism have to do with skateboarding?” It’s a fair question And while I try to put together a diverse panel of individuals up here who I feel, I personally feel encompasses a very dynamic group of skateboarders, tonight’s conversation is only meant to be a starting point and not an ending point So however we may leave the conversation tonight I just wanna put it out there that I really appreciate everyone for coming together and just trying it out I’m feeling really honored that we could bring this special group together I also wanna point out that while gender is a relevant talking point with race, I’ve personally learned that pronouns are critical to some people So in order to respect that, I want to invite the panelists to share their preferred gender pronouns as I do their introduction So Kyle is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Roosevelt University in Chicago In the long trudge towards his second novel, he found escape by writing essays about skateboarding as a process of memory, ontology, and literature These essays have been published in journals including The American Reader, The Point, The Chicagoan, Free Skate Mag, Push Periodical, The Skateboard Mag, Deadspin, and Jenkem Kyle is also one of the co-hosts of the Vent City podcast, talking shit on all things skate-related – Yeah (Jilleen chuckles) – So thanks, Kyle, for joining us – Thank you – Yeah (all applaud) – Thank you Yeah, my pronouns are he, him or anything said as respect – Okay, cool So next would be Kava But we’re gonna be hopeful that she’s gonna show up and she’ll sit right there next to Kyle Kava is a 25-year-old skateboarder from The Bronx, New York City Skateboarding is a nucleus around which Kava’s passions for urban mobility, women’s empowerment, and social justice activism revolve In her free time, Kava likes to bike, read, learn about and practice medicinal herbalism, and complain about New York City’s public transportation system, which is a pretty good bio And then next is Van – Hi guys! – Hi (chuckles) So in the ’90s, Van was a household name in the truly underground world of girl skateboarding One of Southern California’s finest to have stepped on a board since her first Vision Psycho Stick, she would eventually be featured in titles like Lisa Whitaker’s “911” released in 1993 and in 1994’s “What” Also making an appearance in Lori D’s Defeating Projections in 1999 followed by “Striking Fear into Heart’s of Teenage Girls” by Villa Villa Cola in 1998 (Van laughs) And “Getting Nowhere Faster” by Lisa Whitaker and Villa Villa Cola in 2003 Known for her smooth athleticism and technical prowess, she creates Plan B’s Questionable and Thrashin’ as early style influences Today she continues to skate everyday as well as dedicate herself to film and entrepreneurship Van, preferred gender pronouns – Thanks, Jilleen – Sorry – Gender pronouns: they, them, she, her – Okay, great, thank you – You’re welcome – Okay, Steve 26-year Manhattan resident, Steve Rodriguez has been a dedicated skateboarder for over three decades Residing in NoHo with his wife and son, Steve is widely recognized as the mayor of New York City’s tight-knit skateboarding community In 1996, Steve’s unwavering passion for skateboarding and the surrounding lifestyle inspired him to launch 5Boro skateboards which he still co-owns today

Each year Steve is directly involved with producing roughly a dozen noteworthy events including Go Skateboarding Day, NYC’s largest annual skateboarding jam, attracting thousands of professional and amateur skaters from around the world Through Steve’s involvement with the New York City Parks Department and Department of Transportation, he has helped fundraise and design numerous skate parks and plazas throughout the city’s five boroughs including Maloof Park and Flushing, and a half million dollar redesign of the LES’s Coleman Oval Skatepark under the Manhattan bridge He is currently on the Board of Directors for USA Skateboarding which is the national governing body for skateboarding in the Olympics for the United States – That’s it – So, Steve, thanks for joining (all applaud) – I’m psyched to be here – [Jilleen] Preferred gender pronoun? – He, him – Okay, great And last but not the least, we got Lee Smith Hey, what’s up, Lee? Thanks for joining us So Lee Smith was born and raised in San Francisco, California Although moving around from time to time as a kid, living in Queens, New York, in Detroit, his family would always make their way back to San Francisco Lee was picked up by Mark Gonzales’ 60/40 Skateboards which turned into ATM Click, later turning pro for Menace, City Stars with Kareem Campbell, and eventually riding for Santa Cruz Skateboards towards the end of his skate career Currently, Lee lives and works in New York City, working in television production for MTV He has a relatively new podcast called the Mission Statement that delves into the various cultural elements of skateboarding – All right – Uh, preferred gender pronouns, Lee? – He, him – Awesome Okay, great (all applaud) Right, okay, okay So this is actually the first time I’ve ever talked about, like, why, personally, I wanted to do this panel So growing up skating, the only time I actually remembered race being addressed in like mainstream skate media was probably when Big Brother came out with the yellow issue, also they had a black issue I don’t really know if they had any other colored issue, colors issues, that a white issue maybe That was a joke But when I was 14 I bought the yellow issue And if you see on the screen, if you can see it right now, it’s this one up here, it’s with all the yellow And so at the time I actually was like obsessed with, like, my, like, skateboard inspiration wall like in my room I think a lot of kids have that growing up And so I would, like, glue the images from magazines all the time to my wall And so when I saw this issue, like safe way or something, I thought it was really cool to see so many Asian skaters in one issue at the time So Quartersnacks describes the Yellow Issue being over 40 pages of interviews and photos with yellow skaters Many of whom were New Yorkers: Jeff Pang, Danny Supa, Paul Leung, Sean Kelling, Ray Wong, et cetera The interviews were administered in a typically absurd Big Brother fashion, in that they focused on questions regarding penis size, being good at math, being bad at driving, turning red while drinking alcohol, and Bruce Lee versus Jackie Chan Bruce Lee all day, by the way But for me, when I was 14 in 1998 I was still figuring out how to actually skateboard, still going between middle school and high school, figuring out my sense of humor and maybe, like, controlling oil on my face So, admittedly, I wasn’t, like, aware of how offensive the whole small penis stereotype is because penises are gross, right? And, like, did I accidentally find some secret about my dad that I wasn’t supposed to know about or something? Anyways these guys in the issue didn’t seem to care and later on maybe you would justify as like boys will be boys humor But I think it’s fair to say that in 2019 this kind of racist humor is being less and less tolerated even beyond skateboarding So this is how I personally trace my first formative experience and instance of where an example of racism in skateboarding directly impacted me personally, and in that I celebrate representation in my own way by ignoring what made me uncomfortable and putting the photos up A year ago I hosted a panel Pushing Boarders in London which essentially is a series of panels designed to encourage debate about lesser spoken topics in skateboarding So during that conference, I went to another panel with Kyle Beachy, on it called What We Do is Secret: The Challenge of Writing about Skateboarding And during the talk, a controversial article he wrote became a trending topic of conversation It was called Primitive Progressivism It was basically an expose on not just an individual but the entire skate industry to me He had a hard time finding an outlet to publish it, which only added to speculations as to why exactly this article was so controversial So it was because of this specific article, after I read a year ago that led me to have multiple conversations with all kinds of people from Pushing Boarders and at home So in a nutshell, Vice wrote, “Skateboarding icon, Jason Jessee is under fire “for use of swastikas and racist remarks “After old interviews featuring racial slurs “and hate symbols surfaced online,

“the skateboard community began to wonder “why he’s still being celebrated as a legend.” So just to kick things off, I wanted to ask Kyle, in his own words, what led you to write that article? What was it about, for the people in the audience that might not know, and what kind of reaction did you receive from writing it? – Sure Okay, so– – [Jilleen] This was the apology, by the way, yeah – Yeah, this is the apology note I think there are a lot of factors that went into it for me I think the main thing was that there’s very clearly something that was exposed when the sort of the old quotes from these magazines, 1994, an interview with Iron Horse magazine, Jason Jessee said some truly hideous shit And then it kinda started this sort of investigation into like, there’s a documentary called “Pray For Me” in 2006 where you see him and you see his kinda day to day activity and the art he makes and it was pretty swastika forward, I guess we could say And so it led to a lot of people kind of wondering, like, “All right, when is anybody gonna say anything about this,” right? So there are a lot of people kind of message boardy, kind of skater communities having these conversations but there was just pretty much dead silence from either Jason Jessee or his sponsors or the rest of the skateboarding industry So for me it was kind of a moment to maybe point out, first of all, I was pretty angry I was pretty pissed off I was pretty incensed that this industry that I have spent 30 years now supporting and paying money into and doing what I can to kind of fuel this industry didn’t seem to have the infrastructure for dealing with any sort of reckoning with its own sort of ugliness It just didn’t seem to have the machinery built into it for addressing the fact that there was this really kind of terrible, poisonous strain that had been living inside of it for a long time So I wrote about his apology, which isn’t an apology in fact – [Jilleen] I can read it for everyone here before– – Sure – Okay, just so if you can’t read it And I think that there, was this the apology that technically was posted on his Instagram? – Yeah, and he gave like a little, he did like a little introduction on video basically saying, like, “Hey, I love everyone “I’m gonna read this apology “I’m really,” I think he said, like, “I’m super sorry “But the main thing is is that I’m not a hateful person, “I’m a loving person.” – Sure And was, his apology, you wrote your article after he made the apology? – Yeah, yeah, yeah – So what was he responding to, like, just like Slap Message Board stuff or like– – I don’t know Yeah, I think they’re kinda, there was enough of a critical mass on the message boards that I think at a certain point he had to address it I don’t know, that’s a really good question – Okay, so the letter that he wrote online, it says, “Dear Skateboarding, I’ve evolved over the years “and my example speaks louder than words “I will keep evolving and learning life lessons “I have zero hatred or negativity in my heart “for anybody or anything; only love “I’m here to uplift people and be real, that’s it “Love, J. Jessee “P.S. What I said 24 years ago,” crossed out, and it says, “in the past does not define who I am today “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was hurt “or offended by my actions “I truly regret it “I’m sorry and I love you.” So that was his, one of his apologies I think he was also on The Nine Club – Yeah, months later – [Jilleen] Sure – So, yeah, I guess one of the other things that was going on here is that in fact this was kind of the most recent, at the time of May 2018, it seemed like it was the most recent of a series of people kind of, beyond skateboarding, just in kind of popular culture finding themselves being called out for something they had done in the past and coming up with this sort of what is essentially a non-apology, right? I mean there is an element of an apology kinda toward the end But for the most part, what he’s doing is he’s justifying why he’s not a bad person, right? He’s defending himself He’s not actually having a reckoning with the truly ugly things that he said And so, I’m not a moral philosopher but I keep one on speed dial (Jilleen chuckles) And we got down into, like, what an apology actually is and so on And again it comes down to this idea of reckoning, dealing with the painful process of growth and dealing with, actually confronting people who were hurt by this, people who maybe saw him on the cover of Thrasher in, was that May or March or April, around the time that the CONS video came out, and see, like, “Oh, man, this guy has “the biggest platform in skateboarding “and here is this truly hideous shit “that is pretty much officially part of his record, “so why is he given this platform?” So, yeah, I mean the article ended up

being kind of an examination of what an apology actually is, why it’s so hard for America, Americans to apologize for things that we’ve done wrong? What more broadly maybe is ugly about the American past that we need to reckon with? And– – [Jilleen] Which isn’t like exclusive to skateboarding obviously, yeah – Absolutely not No, no, no, absolutely not But, I mean the fact of the matter is that a lot of what are the origins of skateboarding came out of a surfer culture from the 1950s and 1960s, that was riddled with all sorts of racist behavior – [Jilleen] Sure – An exclusive activity that was almost largely the sort of domain of white Californians So, yeah, that’s kind of where the article came from It was based on anger I wrote it very quickly – [Jilleen] You wrote that quickly? If anyone’s read it, it’s really well-written and it’s– – Thank you – It’s not short – [Kyle] No, no, but– – But it’s dope It’s really– – I think I had a bum knee and my wife was out of town, it was a weekend, so it was, like, I’m gonna bang this out I wrote it originally for Jenkem and Jenkem for a couple of reasons didn’t wanna publish it for their own sort of editorial decisions – [Jilleen] Sure – And then it was picked up by King magazine out of Canada, out of Vancouver I believe and they put it up for one day and then it was immediately taken down – [Jilleen] Did they tell you why? – Yeah, yeah I mean it was, there were phone calls made from within the skateboarding industry And from what I understand, it was people who were close with Jason Jessee and also close with the magazine There was like a personal request to have it removed – [Jilleen] So you ruffled some feathers? – Ruffled some feathers But then it was put up by these guys, Free Skate Mag out of London who are just like three super, really friendly and progressively individuals – [Jilleen] Right Will Harmon is an American also – Yeah, that’s right – He’s involved with Free, yeah, yeah So that was cool to see that after the last Pushing Boarders, not this one, the one that you guys just came from, some of you– – Right – In Malmo, but the one in London that one of the immediate results of that was to actually publish your piece – Right – So, okay, I wanted to ask also other people’s opinions about what they felt about Jason Jessee’s apology – I personally had about five minutes to think about this today while I was at a friend’s house and one of the first thing that came up as I was reading this, listening to The Nine Club three-hour platform of him sort of talking about his life and story was it was emotionally laborious It became taxing and then at some point I had to draw a line of how much more can a single person gauge a way on someone’s apology I mean it’s easy to, you wanna dismiss him because he’s cool or he was a part of a culture that maybe there was a protection there, but for me I felt like whose responsibility is it to really apologize for this? Like, no one checked him, so– – [Jilleen] You mean, you said no one checked him? – Yeah, no one checked him – Like, back then? – Back then It’s like you don’t hear an apology really from any of his family or friends, maybe a few people in the industry, but it was like as you start to dig it starts to get really heavy So that’s where I originally started – The apology is pretty much bullshit It just doesn’t really, I’m sure this came after he was probably gonna lose sponsorships It doesn’t have any feeling of being genuine at all and I just don’t really believe it It doesn’t really, I’m struggling to see what his example has been over the years that proves that he’s not the same person or that he’s a different person I see him in a Supreme video shooting guns and acting like what I would think he’s just the same kinda person that he was 24 years ago – Right – So I just don’t believe it And at the same time I haven’t put too much energy into it It doesn’t really make much difference to me whatever he does, whether he says sorry or not There is a story he got punched in the face also a long time ago by a skater named Peanut Brown, who was a black African American skater So they were standing on the top of a ramp and Peanut Brown had beat him in a contest and Jason Jessee didn’t know that Peanut Brown was behind him and he was like this, N word, “beat me in the contest,” and Peanut Brown was like, “What,” and turned around and punched him in the face So I don’t know if violence is the answer but he does, he has been had like– – [Jilleen] He has a history – He has a history with this thing, yeah, so – So I actually knew about this apology but I didn’t know the exact wording And I heard, listened to The Nine Club first And it was interesting because you heard that, oh, something happened, something with Jason Jessee, blah, blah, blah, and there was an apology he made And if you listen to The Nine Club, the whole time you’re like waiting for the apology

And then literally I, it was a long one It was probably over two hours – Three hours – And, yeah, and I was listening to it at 1.5 speed, so (all laugh) But it was just incredible You’re just, the whole time you’re waiting, like, “Where’s the apology?” He, like, just veers off into all different things And it’s kinda funny because if you read that– – Sure – It’s kinda the same thing It’s like, “Oh, let me talk about other stuff first,” and then, “Oh, P.S.,” but in the– – [Jilleen] Postscript – Yeah, there wasn’t even an apology And I was just like, “So, where is the apology?” So for me it was like there wasn’t an apology And then when I see this after, when you sent it to me, I was like, “So which apology is it actually?” – Right, right, right – And I’m like– – [Jilleen] We’re like the hunt for the apology – Yeah, so I don’t know And the way I feel about it is that, like everybody else said, I feel the same way that it’s just like it kind of isn’t an apology because he kinda, in a way, yeah, he admits to something but at the same time it definitely, for him I guess, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t come off at all as genuine and as something real It’s kinda just like, “Oh, whatever.” But I think that’s part of his history and how skateboarding was back then where people just allowed it to happen So it’s kind of in a way, I will say, it’s unfortunate You know what I mean? I feel like I can truly say that but it’s not an excuse in anyway – So for me the first thing I thought when I saw the written apology was it reminded me of something I’ve seen before And if you see on the screen it’s by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, who is someone I definitely follow on social media and she is an educator And it says, “I don’t want your love and light “if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action.” There’s a term “It’s called spiritual bypassing “as it relates to racial rights: a gaslighting technique “in which someone from the white community “insists on dismissing the lived experiences “of an oppressed or marginalized group “in the name of love, light or peace “This perceived high morality “is really just their white privilege “materializing as the option to opt out “of acknowledging or engaging in a reality “that they aren’t directly affected by “As opposed to taking into account their role “in the social construct that exists, “they’ll try to make the oppressed communities “think they simply aren’t showing up spiritually “and that’s why they are in the position that they are in “as opposed to the truce of structural racism.” For an example And it doesn’t, maybe to some people that they might not make that connection per se, but for me it’s something, the idea with even like what you call white feminists and that his, like, apology was just like, like, basically like love and light, like, I have zero percent hatred in my heart, and I’m like, “Dude, even I have hatred in my heart “and I didn’t fuckin’ like do some crazy, sketchy shit on,” you know what I mean? I agree with mostly everybody on the panel and that like it just feels really disingenuous And today I actually tried, like four of these guys, the actual post, and I couldn’t find it actually, the apology on his social media feed which I felt was like, “Oh, did he like reverse curate something “and just like take it away “so he doesn’t have to have it up there?” I mean, again who wants to be defined by, like, their, like, mistakes or something? And I can understand But on the other side, it’s like, “How do we actually learn as like a community “if, like, you’re not even willing to have it on there “for like past a year or something,” I don’t know So that’s just kind of my sort of initial opinion But the other thing I wanted to ask Kyle was that when I first asked him to be a part of the panel, one of the first things he said to me was like, “Do you really think you need, like, a mid-Western white guy “to give his opinion on a panel “about racism in skateboarding?” And I was like, “But you were the white guy “that called the other white guy out, “so, like, definitely we want you on the panel,” and that’s really important So I wanted to ask you what kind of reaction did you receive after you wrote the article, like what kind of backlash? – Yeah, I think that’s a good question And it’s definitely a good question because the guy Andrew Murrell, who wrote the Vice article that came out before my piece came out, and had like a far more kind of journalistic approach to it, right, like facts, like reporting, he does reporting which is not a thing I claim to have any access to I don’t report He got a whole lot of backlash, right? One of the Anti-Hero guys from Atlanta like basically I think told him he was banned from Atlanta Like, “Don’t come back to Atlanta,” which is the kinda thing that happens in the skate community There are people who feel they have a certain kind of power And so he got a whole of feedback, he got a whole lot of pushback, he got a whole lot of threats and insults, et cetera Here’s the thing that happened after my article,

was I didn’t, aside from getting pulled down and hearing kind of the story of how it got pulled down and feeling like, “Wow, that’s a little sketchy,” beyond that what I got was pretty much a deluge of DMs, of people saying thank you and people expressing like incredibly heartfelt comments about feeling safety, feeling seen, feeling like something had to happen and that it was an article in a English skateboard magazine was enough Like, people were very, very pleased Truly, there were like between 30 and 45 just thank you notes And I didn’t actually suffer any backlash at all I haven’t heard anything So I don’t know if I got off easy, I don’t know if, I have no idea I can’t really explain it – Okay, so some could probably call your piece or have called your piece maybe an example of a call-out Do you think call-out culture is an accurate term for what you did? And is it necessary to change and shift the conversation in skateboarding? – So I’m really curious or interested in the distinction between calling out and calling in, right? Like, kind of whether it’s done publicly or whether it’s done privately, right? Are we going to be in charge of the people around us and take responsibility of being these kind of crew of kind of teachers, friend teachers, always? Like, “Hey, this thing you said might be uncomfortable “for this person “Let’s rethink kind of how we’re talking about this,” right? Let’s call that a call-in I don’t know that I see it as a call-out thing I think after about three paragraphs, what I say in the article, is like, “This really isn’t about Jason Jessee at all,” like, “This is about the skateboard industry “and the fact that there is a real deficiency “in dealing with some of its past.” I had no interest in personally harming Jason Jessee I have no interest in personally playing any role in him losing sponsors I don’t know that that really motivated me nearly as much as like really taking the skateboard industry itself to task And asking people who participate in the skateboard industry, who fund it, who buy the products, that keep the machines like turning along asking us maybe to use our voice a little bit more and say, like, “Hey, this isn’t gonna fly anymore,” like, “These boards that you’re reissuing from this dude, “this magazine cover that you’re giving this dude, “this last part in this major corporate shoe video “maybe we should object to that, “maybe we should speak up a little bit.” So I don’t know I guess maybe technically it is a call-out because it’s about Jason Jessee, but I think the issue for me was a lot broader– – Much bigger – Than him – [Jilleen] Sure So I wanna ask the rest of the panelists as well, do you think call-out culture/cancel culture is successful outside of skateboarding? Why or why not? (all laugh) – Since we’re talking about calling people out, a lot of people forgot also that Corey Duffel called Stevie Williams a trashy N-word in Big Brother So a lot of people, for some reason, conveniently forgot about that I don’t know why He did it and he faced no backlash whatsoever A lot of people just kinda brushed it And I remember me and Stevie hung out everyday at the time and we were like, “How do you feel about that?” And he’s just like, “Whatever.” And it’s just like, I don’t know why, but for some reason nobody ever said anything about it And I think it’s just human beings, we rationalize the things that we like to fit into the way that we wanted, the way that we wanna see it and everybody does it and everybody’s guilty of that We like this person so we’re like, we make a lot of excuses for them which is unfortunate But, yeah, I guess I’m calling out Corey Duffel (laughs) – [Jilleen] Okay, fair enough – And so what was the question originally? – [Jilleen] If you think call-out/cancel culture is successful like outside of skateboarding, in skateboarding, why or why not? That was the main question but that’s so relevant – It’s a tough one because it’s like, “How much energy are you gonna put into?” You can be calling people out all day long (Jilleen laughs) I mean if you really wanna dig– – [Jilleen] I feel that people used to do that all day long and it’s fine anyway, so – If you really wanna dig in the archives and find crappy things that people say from like 20 years ago, you could just– – [Jilleen] Endless – Keep going and going and going So I think it’s, I have a problem with it because I feel like it’s not worth putting energy into Obviously if people were affected like physically or, Bill Cosby and all that type of stuff, that’s a whole different level, but, you know – Right

So the definition according to Wikipedia of call-out culture is up there, and it says call-out culture, also known as outrage culture, is a form of public shaming that aims to hold individuals and groups accountable by calling attention to behavior that is perceived to be problematic, usually on social media A variant of the term, cancel culture, describes a form of boycott in which someone, usually a celebrity, who has shared a questionable or unpopular opinion, or has had behavior that is perceived to be problematic called out on social media is canceled, or boycotted by many fans often leading to massive declines in celebrity So– – [Man] Declines– – Yeah, I mean, yeah, that’s Wikipedia – Then a lot of time context is lost in these situations, so you don’t know why You have a snippet of a phrase and people get upset about it I don’t think it’s worth putting energy into things that people said 20 years ago – I think, Van, when we had a conversation about this before you had said that call-out culture can be useful to give people a choice – Yeah, I think the thing about energy, the energy around calling people out is taxing and it’s laborious But there is, if not, there should be more space for that conversation to happen to give people that choice to talk about it Whereas as you start to scroll through your teens and in your 20s and to your 30s, your 40s there’s never really a chance, unless it’s academic or it’s in a group therapy session among your peers there’s never really that chance to call people out in that safe space that doesn’t harm anybody We don’t really wanna call Jason Jessee, but when do we get a chance to call out the industry, when is that conversation ever invited? So, I wake up every morning to Jilleen’s Instagram post as a daily, that’s my CNN every morning– – Oh, God! – And it drives me crazy to think that I wake up to a content that is inviting me to weigh in So it’s important to have that option So you follow Jilleen’s Heavy Discussion or find space within your own community, if not, looking out for it That crack in that sidewalk that you don’t see maybe one day be that bump that kinda elevates you So that’s where I stand on that conversation option, so – Yeah, I’d say that, and I’m using exactly what she says, like your Instagram or anything, it’s more like, a lot of the call-out culture, as long as, as I see it when it raises awareness about something then it gives you, you form your own opinion about it, so if there wasn’t the call-out culture by many things you see on whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or whatever, then I feel like, me specifically, I wouldn’t know, I wouldn’t be aware of like, “Oh, shit, that happened.” – [Jilleen] Right – Or, “Oh, that’s a thing.” You know what I mean? – Or, “Should this matter?” – Yeah, okay And a lot of times, yeah, most of it, like Lisa is like totally negative, so it’s like, “Oh, that’s pointless.” And then it’s like, “Why did they even post that,” or, “why,” this doesn’t, it doesn’t do anything There’s nothing constructive coming out of it So I do feel like it’s not, if it raises awareness and then it leads to something that is something bigger for yourself, then I’m totally fine with it But if it’s just something that’s done for whether it’s marketing or something that’s just completely negative, and sometimes a lot of marketing things are done negatively to raise awareness for something, to sell something – Absolutely – You know what I mean? – Sure – So it kinda depends to me – So the next question for the panel is in Steve Have you ever been called out for behavior? Who was it and how did it make you feel? Did it change anything? Did anything change? – Have I ever been called out for behavior? I don’t know I would say one thing I might’ve been called out is in touring when we would go to like do demos and stuff, like some people might’ve thought I was too intense with the situation, what was going on Like not forcing someone to land a trick but forcing someone to land the trick and things like that – Right – But I don’t know, I’m just, that’s like the first thing that comes to my mind if I’ve ever been called out– – Sure – For something But it would usually come from people outside of skateboarding, whether it’s parents, but they were still involved in it whether they were taking their kids there or something Or someone that kind of, it’s kinda interesting, say, didn’t understand the culture of what this was trying to get to So that’s the first thing that can come to mind, what I’ve been, what someone has called me out for It’s like, “Oh, you’re a little too harsh on that “like 10-year-old kid or something.” You know what I mean? – Right – But I feel like my excuse I would say is like,

“Oh, that’s what happened to me.” You know what I mean? – Right, sure – I don’t know – No, yeah – I hope that makes sense – [Jilleen] We’ll marinate on that for a second (laughs) – Have I been called out for behavior or some, no (all laugh) – [Jilleen] Never, never (all laugh) – I mean in terms of like, nothing that I can really think of off the top of my head, no – Well, I’ll give you an example for me So, like, I thought this, like, comedian was really funny because he did a really good Cantonese impression and I’ve never really heard a really good Cantonese, Chinese impression before and I told my mom, “Oh my God, you gotta check this out “He does a really good impression.” And my mom, she came here when she was like 10 and so she has pretty good English and stuff like that but she was like automatically, like we usually have like back and forth banter like very easily, like same humor but she was just bummed, she was just like, “That’s not funny.” And it checked me I was like, I thought it was funny because I don’t, I’ve never had to go through that in terms of people making fun of like how I speak or anything like that, so And that question, that to me was like one of the first things I thought of was how my mom checked me in, called me out for that kind of behavior, so – I mean I’ve had very minor instances where there’s been like misunderstandings But, no, I’ve never been called out for anything One time, like, in San Francisco I was, like, told all these dudes like, “Go back to where you come from.” But I meant like, “You, yuppies, that are invading my city, “go back to where you come from.” – [Jilleen] It was more of a class thing It was a class thing – There happened to be a couple like Indian guys with them and they’re like, “Bro, that’s not cool.” And I was like, “Oh, fuck “I didn’t mean it like that.” (all laugh) But– – Right – That was about it (laughs) – [Jilleen] I can see that – I have been called out on many things (Jilleen and Van laughs) Having been invited to this panel list to talk about racism I had to peel back layers of homophobia, sexism in my life And I’m pretty sure my twin sister had called me on a lot of things Mainly sexist, feminist things that I didn’t understand growing up She presents really feminine, while I present really masculine and there’s things where she’s like, “I don’t understand “Why can’t you just stand next to me and block me?” I was like, “Why are you wearing that?” And I remember she looked at me and I swear the backhand was gonna come straight for me and I was like, “I’m so sorry.” I literally had to stand up and be like, “You know what, what you taught me was “no matter what you wear she didn’t deserve “what she was going through by other people “in that supermarket.” And there are things I just didn’t understand growing up about my own, like, sexuality, in treating certain friends a certain way at a time where I wasn’t ready to accept that I was gay or I wasn’t ready to accept that skate He knew I was gay before I even knew I was gay and then treating certain friends a certain way and be like, “Hey, that’s not cool,” and they’re like, “Why are you homophobic?” So there’s elements of I got checked on the hour through my (laughs) early, if not, late 20s and early 30s It wasn’t until my mid 20s until people were like, “You’ve come a long way.” And I’m like, “Thank you.” Like, it took a while for me to emotionally mature So in terms of check out, call-out I have a couple more but we’ll keep it to the three-minute mark (laughs) – So I’m a professor of English and Creative Writing and so I’m really interested, I’m really like a stickler for certain parts of the English language And for a long time I had this kind of philosophical opposition to they as a pronoun for an individual I couldn’t wrap my head around it I thought grammatically my opposition was somehow valid Like, that, “No, no, no, you don’t wanna be they, “because they is plural and you’re undermining “your singularity and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” And so that was a thing that I had to adjust and I need some help in adjusting that And also I can recall a time, only about a year and a half ago when I misgendered a friend who had completed his transition and as a transgender individual now chooses he/him pronouns and I let slip she and I don’t know where it came from because I don’t think I ever knew this person as a she So it revealed something pretty fundamental

in the way that I see him And I really tried to allow that to be sort of like, “Oh, I didn’t mean it.” I tried to just like move, pass it quickly, right? Like, “Oh, let’s just move forward,” right, the whole fucking thing, the Jason Jessee thing And that took some serious conversations for me to understand Like, yo, you’re seeing this wrong Like, you gotta treat this as seriously as heeded And it was hard, those were hard conversations – Thanks Okay, so the next question I was really curious about, growing up skating you bring home friends eventually, right, ’cause everyone’s tired, they wanna eat or somethin’, or you end up, because like people are far from home and you gotta figure out how they can get back, so sometimes people end up at your house, how would you describe bringing home your skate friends when you’re younger? Was it ever expected at home that you would bring back a certain type of friend? Steve, I know you have a interesting story about that – So I guess it was like when I was around probably like 14 or 15 and everybody, like all I guess, I had an older sister and a younger sister and my older sister had started dating when she was probably 14 or 15 I guess Because my mom, every time I’d come home with a bunch of boys, she’d be like, “Where are all the girls?” My mom’s Colombian and Spanish and she’s very, like, man, masculine culture so she honestly thought, my mom honestly thought, she was like, told my sister like, “I think he’s gay, “because he only hangs out with boys.” And like, “What are they doing in the basement?” We had a big basement and we used to skate in there all night And it was kinda crazy ’cause my mom would be like, she would come down and she’d like look down the little stair thing – [Jilleen] How old are you at the time? – I was probably like 13 or 14 Because everybody else, I had non-skate friends and they all had girlfriends at the time And when I started skating I stopped hanging out with them because I hung out with the kids who skated – [Jilleen] Sure – But it was a real thing And I remember, and I always bust my mom’s chops to this day saying like, “I can’t believe you thought that.” – [Jilleen] She tried to remedy it, right? – What? – She tried– – Oh, no, she did, yeah So basically my freshman year of high school, however old you are then, she made me take football Like, she said, “No, you’re going to,” she didn’t say specifically like, “Oh, I think you’re gay because you’re skateboarding “and you only hang out with the guys,” so she was like, “You’re gonna go to a private school,” and it’s a different private school, “and you’re gonna take football.” And it’s so weird because when I think about it now I was, “I can’t believe I did that.” – [Jilleen] Right – I was like, “But I did it,” you know what I mean? It was just– – Because she told you to – Yeah, when mom said it, I guess I’m doing that And I did it and it was like the worst thing ever but I learned a lot, I learned so much in doing that – [Jilleen] Right – And, yeah, it was just the craziest thing But then it really took a long time I think for my mom to realize it’s okay – [Jilleen] Right – I guess one thing was like when you did get a girlfriend and she’s like, “Oh, okay, maybe he’s normal,” what she consider normal, you know what I mean? – Right – But I truly know that probably until I became successful with skateboarding she was against it, you know what I mean? For like a very long, and both my mom, very traditional parents, they were totally against it And then of course when you become successful with it it’s like, “Oh, yeah, we supported you all along.” It’s like, “No, you didn’t,” you know what I mean? – Right – It’s so funny for me to think about it now – [Jilleen] Because maybe at the time you didn’t necessarily realize (clears throat)– – Right – [Jilleen] What was going on in her mind, but you’re just like, “All right,” like– – I’m like, “Okay, yeah, I guess so.” – [Jilleen] Just going along with it – But the thing is she didn’t stop me from skating, which was to me kinda cool, you know what I mean? She’s just like, “Oh, you have to do other stuff too.” – Sure – You know what I mean? “‘Cause all you do is skateboard “Like, as soon as you get home and all,” like, that’s all I did, you know what I mean, like most skaters do – Right – So, yeah – Awesome, thanks – My experience was the complete opposite My mom is from Detroit and she was like the black sheep of the family so she ran away from home and hitchhiked to San Francisco to be a hippie So that was in the ’60s and then she stayed in San Francisco and I was born there, grew up there and so anything kinda went I could bring home, my mom was a social worker in Tenderloin, if anybody is familiar with Tenderloin in San Francisco you know what’s that about So I could bring home whoever I wanted, I could basically do whatever I want Everybody was welcome in my house It was open arms It was all friends, guys, girls whatever, parties, anything And so that was my experience And maybe there shoulda been like a little more structure to it (laughs)

now that I think about it But my mom did the best that she could and she was a single mom of two kids And, yeah, I took advantage of that So kinda ran the streets and had a lot of fun, did whatever I wanted – Legend has it (Jilleen and Lee laughs) – So, yeah, that was my experience – I don’t know how I really feel about all the people I brought home ’cause I brought home tons of different people Skateboarders, breakdancers, like a bunch of homos, like half the people my mom kicked out, mainly boys, but I had the luxury of having like one of my best friend being the only other girl skater And I brought home pretty fairly mixed bag of people, so as long as I was not doing drugs or drinking, I was in the garage doing kickflips or in the front yard doing anything I think it was pretty good So– (faint voice talking) (laughs) I mean I have a built-in security system there – Just to add to that, I think my mom was happy that I was home – [Jilleen] Totally – Yeah, I mean my parents were just outrageously supportive all the time Yeah I don’t really have much for this answer I came from a household that was just like do you – Supportive – Yeah – [Jilleen] I think that’s what they call it – Yeah, that’s it (all laugh) – Okay, so kind of scaling it around the peripheral, where were your favorite spots to skate growing up and what were the people like, what were the environment like, which could obviously be very different from a supportive family environment – I started just like super suburban, it was like very suburban, St. Louis, Missouri The first thing I ever grinded was the edge of a driveway That I was like, “Oh, that’s what you do “That’s what a grind is.” You like knick the edge of the asphalt before the well-mowed grass But I think things started getting a little more interesting when we started getting out and like finding school yards And St. Louis, Missouri is set up, it’s an incredibly segregated city, neighborhoods are essentially defined by school districts and I remember going to a school district different than mine and there was, I think it was Kirkwood or it was Webster and there were these railroad ties on this asphalt parking lot and I think that’s where I first like ran into a black skater, like that was the first time because up until then it would just, it was like me and my white neighbors and my white friends would do our white thing in the driveway (Jilleen laughs) And then you get out and you start realizing like, “Oh, gosh, there are other people doing this “in other parts of the city.” But really, like, St. Louis remains a deeply segregated city and at the time like our bubble was very, very, very small and there were enough people within my bubble to sustain it that I could think like, “Oh, why would we need to go anywhere else?” So at the same time it was what kept me for a long time around people who looked like me and then very suddenly it was the thing that introduced me to people who look and talk and have lived different experiences than I did and my friends did But, yeah, it was like schoolyards, it was parking lots – I started out in the driveway and so I became a little bit better and made some new friends We started going to spots And one of the biggest spots for us was the police station, out front of Newark station with the manny pad, and the smooth ground. It’s where we all skated for hours ’till the wee AM in the morning And then as one of us got a car I think we started understanding, “Oh, we can get to places and industrial neighborhoods, “banks,” we discovered Downtown LA As videos started coming out, we’re like, “I know exactly where that’s at,” so it was all about finding whoever had a car who would drive us there and would buy us lunch So that’s where I started – I started skating in my neighborhood We grew up in the same neighborhood more or less – [Jilleen] Yeah, few blocks away – The Safeway down on 48th Avenue – [Jilleen] Oh, yeah – So I used to skate there everyday after school and then that was 1990 And then– – [Jilleen] Did you go to Wash? – I went to Wash, I went to Roosevelt too – [Jilleen] Oh, okay – And then so one day I was skating there by myself, I didn’t know anybody that skated in San Francisco and next thing I know I’m surrounded by Karl Watson, Lavar McBride, Marcus McBride and like 15 other skaters all mostly black kids and I was like, “Who are these fucking kids?” And they were super good at skating And Karl Watson came up to me and he was like, “Hey, man, I recognized you “I’ve seen you at school “I didn’t know you skate “We should hang out.” And I was like, “Okay.”

And so the next day, he’s like, “Come to my house after school.” So went to his house and he’s like, “I got boards for you and I got trucks for you “and I’m gonna take you to this plaza “downtown San Francisco– – Amazing! – “Where everybody skates.” And I’m like, “Okay.” – Right – And so we took the Seven Haight down Embarcadero and– – [Jilleen] And this is like a trek also from where– – Yeah, ’cause at this point in time it’s like seven miles away, but like where I live next to the beach it’s like the furthest– – [Jilleen] It’s called Lands End The region is called Lands End – The furthest you can get from downtown San Francisco And so to go there when you’re like 13 is like, “I’m going on this crazy adventure.” And so we went downtown and I went to Embarcadero and my mind was just like fucking blown And I was like, oh my God, there’s this huge plaza with like all these kids from all parts of the city, kids from like fancy neighborhoods to kids that grew up in the projects, all like Latino, white, black, Asian everybody skating together Everybody was generally from like broken homes, single parent families, probably had anger issues but generally good– – Probably (Jilleen and Lee laugh) – Generally good kids that probably just didn’t fit in with the norm of playing teen sports, team sports and things like that So, yeah, and then I basically lived my life in that plaza for the whole until we couldn’t live there anymore And the funny thing is I stayed there that day so long that my mom got, she got super worried and I just totally didn’t come home and I got back and there was a police around my house She thought I like got kidnapped or something – [Jilleen] Whoa (laughs) – But, yeah, I grew up skating in Embarcadero – [Jilleen] By a gang of skateboarders though, to be fair (both laugh) – Yeah – I’d say my favorite places to skate initially was literally in front of my house, my driveway And then as you met more and more people that skated you would kinda find out like, “Oh, what do they have at their house,” like, “What kind of makeshift ramp “or railslide or PVC bar or something, “some natural spot around their place?” But then I’d say after like meeting there was the one guy’s kid, Jim Reese, who had a, he lived on a cul-de-sac, so basically the whole cul-de-sac was like a skatepark because you– – Right – They let everybody leave all the stuff in his cul-de-sac, like all these ramps and things like that And then when I met him it was kinda like, “Oh, there’s this kid in the next town, “there’s this cul-de-sac,” it was like a thing, you know what I mean? So we went there and then he was like, “Oh, why don’t you, are you gonna go “to Quick Check tonight?” And I was like, “What’s Quick Check?” And it was actually where everybody like from my whole area would go on like Friday and Saturday nights and skate It was basically a Quick Check next to a movie theater and it was the quintessential New Jersey suburbs, like everyone was there and then you basically would see everybody that skated Anybody that skated was there skating And it was those memories of that place are like my best memories ever, just ’cause it’s like that’s where you learned all your tricks, you saw people that were so much better than you, you know what I mean? – Right – It was like some of the people that I skated then I still know now, to that I still talk to ’em on regular basis so that was my favorite place to skate – Awesome The next second half, thank you for the questions If anybody else has any questions, just give ’em to me over here So this next image up here is actually about Tompkins And it is the Battle for Tompkins Park: Skateboarders versus Artificial Turf But we’re lucky to have Steve Rodriguez here because he has a pretty interesting update regarding that – Yeah, so before I came here I was getting this phone call all day from a number that I didn’t know and I was like, “Oh, it’s probably like a robocall “Definitely not gonna answer this.” And then finally I got a email like four o’clock and it’s from the commissioner of the New York City Parks for Manhattan and he’s like, “I’ve been trying to call you all day “Will you please call me?” And I was like, “Oh, shit, that was you?” So I called him back and then he, and the usual, he’s a politician so in the usual politician way he’s like, “Well, we kinda like, we understand what’s going on “and blah-blah-blah.” And I’m just like, “And, and, and?” And he’s like, “And we’re not gonna put “AstroTurf to Tompkins.” So– (audience applauds) that was so, I was, it was funny because I was like taking the call like trying to, I was trying to find a conference room ’cause I was in an office and I was just like so excited and I was, I seriously got goosebumps and everything And it just goes to show that the crew of people that I work with to make that happen, you can change things regarding skateboarding in the city and beyond skateboarding as long as you,

it’s very frustrating because you just want to say something and then kind of, it changes But a lot of times as you get older and have to deal with city councils and community boards and all that kind of stuff you really need to kinda like step back and kinda organize and then go at it in such an adult way so that, number one, you’re speaking their language and then, number two, that they can really understand how much it means to you and how much it means to the culture And this was like the most perfect example with the Parks Department, for Tompkins like getting everybody who is involved, Adam, King, a bunch of other people, just getting this core group of individuals and then, I set up a meeting with the Parks Department and said, “Hey, we wanna talk to you about this,” and they really listened Again it is their job to listen but a lot of times you feel like they might not, that they’re not listening to you, but it was kind of like the perfect situation Yes, it took two months but I told every– – [Jilleen] And 30,000 people basically petitioning – Yeah, it took a while but, honestly, that was really fast Because I told like Adam and those guys, I said, “You guys have to be patient.” I actually told them not to do this rally because we were, I know that when the Parks Department actually responds to you saying, “We’re working on it,” that they’re either working on it or they’re about to work on it It’s usually when they don’t respond to you, you’re like, “Oh, I guess it’s never gonna happen.” But they did respond to us every week, at least saying, “We’re working on it.” So it was a huge thing because Tompkins, as everybody knows that skateboards and people that don’t skateboard, it’s a huge, it’s culturally significant to New York City, to the East Village It’s huge It’s almost as big as like the Brooklyn Banks back in the day, you know what I mean? And it’s awesome And the fact that it’s not gonna go away is great for future generations of not only skateboarders but everybody to experience Tompkins Square Park as it has been and as it hopefully will always be – Sure So from what I’ve read, you helped save the Brooklyn Banks in the past and you’re, also as you just described, you worked with the city over the Tompkins situation, you’re also on the Advisory Board of Directors for the non-profit Harold Hunter Foundation which utilizes skateboarding as a means to better the lives of disadvantaged inner youth, inner-city youth In your personal experience through skating, how would you compare both of these situations in terms of how often New York City interest intentionally align with the interest of inner-city youth? – Can you say that question again? – Okay, sorry – That’s a crazy– – Maybe there’s even a better way to clarify it, but in your experience with both things, how do you feel that– – With both the Banks and Tompkins, okay? – Yeah, just as an example How often do New York City interest intentionally align with interests of inner-city youth? That was it, yeah – That’s an awesome question Because I think that they aren’t as aware of what the youth is doing as much as they think they know, you know what I mean? Because the way the system is set up is just like, “Oh, okay, there’s a baseball field, “there’s a basketball court,” it’s all these things that had been forever, you know what I mean? But there’s a lot of new things that are, we were just in Copenhagen and it was so interesting to see a high school that we drove by and have like a mini skate park, like in the high school yard And it was like that’s totally normal, the guy told me He was like, “Oh, that’s totally normal “Most schools have a little thing to skate.” So they’re like hyper aware of what people are into So the city, I think, and the Parks Department they are aware of what kids are doing I think it’s difficult where you have this super old infrastructure and not a lot of space where everybody is fighting for space And it’s the same thing You can’t make everybody happy, so you have to figure out how you can make the most people happy with the least amount of things – [Jilleen] Sure, sure – So to answer your question, I do think they are aware of it but not as aware as they could be And this was a perfect example, with Tompkins Square Park, where I don’t think they realized the cultural significance of it Just like with the Brooklyn Banks, when I was dealing with that, they didn’t realize, they had no idea They’re like, “Oh, people skateboard down here?” And you’re just like, “Whoa,” you’re like, “You really don’t know that?” Because again they’re dealing with so many things and they’re so understaffed and all that stuff, that is true, but some of the (mumbles)

are involved with the Parks Department truly listen and they do care so you just have to align with those people in order to try and make things happen – Okay Well, I’m really psyched that they’re not AstroTurfing Tompkins So really psyched about that (audience applauds) – But it was a group, just to be clear, it was a total group effort and it always is a group effort It’s not just one person It’s everybody coming together It’s everybody from this kid King, to this kid Adam, to Kosta from Quartersnacks, like everybody came with real stories and expressed themselves in a very mature, not like, “Fuck the Parks Department,” you know what I mean? They were really, I coached them a little bit to be like, “This is how we should do it, “because this is what’s effective.” And it takes a lot of patience and it takes a lot of, ’cause everybody just wants to say like, “Give me my park,” or, “Don’t do that,” you know what I mean? But you have to communicate with them in a way where they can, number one, understand you and then, two, like kinda like feel your pain like, “Why are you taking this away from us?” – Sure – And then explain the history It’s really just education if you think about it It’s educating them about something that they have absolutely no idea about – So the other question I wanna ask related to the area of Tompkins, when I used to work Autumn Skate Shop this graphic on the wall is a notorious, very iconic 5Boro graphic And how did this become one of the most recognizable images from 5Boro? – This guy, Kimou Meyer, who’s an artist, who moved to New York City, I can’t remember, I sent you the book – [Jilleen] Yeah – But he moved to New York City a long time ago, probably like around 2000, and he was basically, I don’t wanna say like a starving artist but he was a really good graphic designer who was working for a bunch of people, but he was just at the time trying to be involved in as many projects as possible And we had linked up with him and we’re like, “Hey,” back then 5Boro would kinda like give everybody free ring We actually did an art show at KCDC with this back when this released and we sold, I printed this, I remember that But this came about, because it was all these artists that kinda wanted to get out there and how they were able to get out there was to design for free for skateboard companies, you know what I mean? It was like, “Okay, yay “I want my art to be seen,” but it’s not gonna get in a gallery right now So it’s like, “Okay “Why don’t you do a skateboard graphic for me?” And he did this graphic And, honestly, since the first second I saw it I was like, it’s kinda funny that we were talking about Jason Jessee because Jason Jessee’s, one of his graphics is very similar to this, you know what I mean? But this is done in New York City style – [Jilleen] Sure – It’s very recognizable as that But when I saw it I merely knew like, “Oh, this is something totally different “This guy is like a real artist,” as opposed to some of the other people who were kinda like just trying to do stuff on boards and some of it is shitty but whatever, you know what I mean? You like live and learn So we pressed the boards and immediately this board was selling like ten to one over everything else It was kinda crazy And it’s still in the line to this day (faint voice talking) Yeah, it’s on the wall And it’s kinda crazy It’s a board that every season is always asked for and there’s probably no other board like that ever – Why do you think that is? (faint voice talking) – It’s just such an iconic graphic with Guadalupe on there, you know what I mean? It’s great design – [Lee] A lot of people buy it to hang it on their walls – Yeah, exactly I’ve seen it in restaurants Like, I will get a text at least once every month of someone seeing this board at someone’s house some place or, you know what I mean? ‘Cause it is a work of art, you know what I mean, and good design It’s something that totally, if you see some of the other designs he did over there, it’s just, there is a difference between when something is well-designed and something is not You guys all know it like when you skate a good skate park, you’re like, “Oh, it’s so much better “than that shitty skate park.” Little things make a difference And it’s aesthetically pleasing – Did your background have a role in the brand’s earlier aesthetic identity? – Not at all It was more, this guy Kimou Meyer being inspired, he lived around here actually, and he was inspired by some of the, it’s actually funny that you say that ’cause there used to be a deli, Amy, I don’t know, it’s called Rodriguez Deli, like some place around here? It’s on Grand, is it still there? Yeah, I remember he was telling me that, about that, something about it And he was just so into the signage

and the candles and all that kind of stuff So I think it had more to do with him and his environment and what he wanted to make – Cool, cool Okay, so let’s see, Lee, this next one’s for you – Sweet – (laughs) Okay So a few years ago Epicly Later’d came out with the Menace episode In it, the brand was described as marking a cultural shift in skateboarding LA, New York all these city kid skaters that came together as the Team Menace It’s kinda thuggy, it’s kinda dangerous O’Dell continues to describe Menace as the NWA of skating And then there’s a quote from Joey Suriel, he says, “Before I can only probably count two or three people “that ever used hip-hop in a skate video “Now looking back at those specific times, “it was just us showing the skateboard world “skateboarding through our perspective.” So I wanna ask you, what was it like to skate for a company that is actively referred to as the NWA of skating? – It was great (both laugh) Yeah, I think it was the first company like that of its kind and for, like, the image was organic It was natural We are all inner-city kids Kareem was the boss He created it It’s his baby And it doesn’t get more real than Kareem Campbell, for those of you that are familiar with him So it was very natural and it was good It’s like, we were super unique, everybody kinda loved us and there was nothing like it at the time It was a lot of fun But I guess the only drawback was when you go to Europe and, like, some dudes like, “What’s up, bitch?” And you’re like (laughs), you’re like, “You think you could just talk to me like that?” And they’re like, “What’s up nigga?” And you’re like, “What?” Because they think that’s how they, that’s how their image of, I don’t know what kinda accent I just did but, (all laugh) but, yeah, that was the only thing Like, people really like thought that they could just kind of like come at us like that But besides that it was amazing to escape from Menace, yeah – If I could hop in there just for a second as the sort of representative of the hinterlands of Missouri, I know that Menace was a company at the time that had a whole lot of effect on a whole lot of white kids in Missouri and I imagine Nebraska, and I imagine other central parts of the country And I know for me it was a real moment of realizing like, “Oh,” like, we just really wanna be something else, right, like we wanna latch on to some part of an identity And for a long time skating gave us certain options with that, but then when Menace came along it was like, “Oh, we can also kinda pretend “to be this sorta person.” And the effect was radical – I mean everybody is always been intrigued by like the inner-city struggle It’s very intriguing to people So if you kind of base your company around that, a lot of people are gonna gravitate towards that I mean Germany was like nuts and Holland was crazy And like Kareem would step out of the van and they’d just be like throwing weed at him (laughs) Yeah, people were very intrigued by the company and they just really gravitated towards it It was like– – Do you at all think there’s any problem with a bunch of white kids in Missouri mimicking what they see in Menace videos in the mid ’90s? – No, I don’t at all If they feel like that’s what they wanna do, then everybody should, it’s perfectly fine, yeah – Are there any companies, Lee, now that you referred to as the NWA of skating? – I mean DGK obviously kind of like has taken on that role But that’s also organic I mean if you talk about two of the most iconic black skaters who really came from the struggle, you’d think of Stevie Williams, you’d think of Kareem Campbell amongst many others But, yeah, DGK obviously and besides that, I don’t know I kinda feel like Baker is a little bit like that They’re a little more like kinda rough around the edges a little bit street, which I like But for them it’s kinda like encompassing like different levels of like, “Get on this,” I guess I should say But, yeah, I feel like those two companies kind of – Awesome Okay, so a few, was it a few years ago now? You posted this image on your feed and I was like, “Damn, that’s really sick.” Can you give us some background on what compels you to design this?

My automatic assumption based on probably the timing, familiarity of the language is that it had to do with like Black Lives Matter, but maybe it’s not So if you– – I mean, so I was like bored in the winter time and I don’t receive free skateboards from anybody anymore so I was like, “I wanna make some skateboards.” And so I was like talking to a friend and we, I don’t know what we were talking about, we were having some beers whatever, and then we came up with the slogan It wasn’t (mumbles), then I was like, “I’m gonna put that on a skateboard.” But a lot of people have their own interpretation of what it means But interestingly enough what it really means is that black skaters matter because mostly back in the days black people told other black people that they shouldn’t ride skateboards So it’s kind of more of a message to that than it is (laughs), than it is to anything else Because, yeah, unfortunately that’s a lot of the pushback that like people of color have faced in skateboarding, has been from their own people And like, for example, even in Sweden, like the South African kid talked about that, like, when he mentioned that like skateboarding in South Africa is like, kinda like considered a white sport and that his friends kinda like, were giving them shit for, I was like, “Damn, they go through that “in South African too?” And then I have a friend, Achraf, who grew up in Barcelona, he’s Moroccan, and he basically grew up in Macba and so when he was like 12 he started skating and like all of his Moroccan friends gave him shit for skating So it’s like this thing that, it’s kind of like a message to that but also saying black lives matter at the same time – I was digging around in like old articles and there was one article with Ray Barbee in the Huffington Post from a few years ago, and that’s the image on the screen right now So it says, “In the fall of 1983, “Barbee went back to middle school “after spending the summer learning “how to ride a skateboard in San Jose “He spent time after school “shredding the backyard quarter pipe “with a motley skateboarding crew “and afterwards jammed in his friends’ punk rock band “Barbee had found a passion and a brotherhood, “but he couldn’t escape the flack “that came from being a black skater.” Quote, “I got the most grief from other brothers and sisters “from other blacks,” end quote, Barbee told HuffPost “And they were always like, “‘Why are you trying to be white?’ “And I was like, ‘I’m just riding a skateboard “‘I love what I’m doing “‘I hope you dig what you’re doing.’ “Although culturally diverse skaters such as Barbee “have gained more exposure since the ’80s, “skateboarding started out as a white suburban activity “The sport has integrated over the last three decades “as it’s grown more mainstream in popular culture.” So I thought that was interesting in terms of what you just spoke to and this article interview with Ray Barbee And I wanna kinda actually speed up to like a week ago Van came in from LA and told me she saw, she picked up an issue of like, what, the New York, New Yorker, or New York Times or something and they had this huge feature on Tyshawn Jones and it’s like this huge feature New York City’s first skateboarding superstar, Tyshawn Jones’ jaw-dropping athleticism has made him an icon But is skateboarding big enough for someone like Tyshawn Jones? So it was just actually very timely, right, just putting this panel together and all of these things are coming up in like mainstream media whether it’s like skate era ’90s movies that are a little reminiscent to kids or in homage to that and then seeing this like in The New York Times and stuff I don’t even know if there’s ever been like a professional skateboarder highlighted so like prominently in a publication like that So a question for the panel is how, yeah, how do you guys feel about maybe getting to the point where we were also talking about the Olympics and things like that, but how does it make you feel to see like even the title like skateboarding superstar? I mean was Tony Hawk called a superstar? I’m not really sure (faint voice talking) Yeah, he is So maybe to see a vert, traditionally like vert, whatever skater is one thing but like from like New York and like that epitome of street skating – I’ll start – Sure – I think one thing to maybe, obviously all credit to Tyshawn Kid is incredible But, I mean it also helps a lot that this profile was handled by somebody who rides a skateboard and knows a lot about skateboarding and can speak of skateboarding as someone who does it, a guy named Willy Staley So I think what we will see as skateboarding continues to grow is it will continue to become a more and more ideally inclusive,

but also less subversive activity, right, it’ll become a pro-social kind of, it’s gonna be like biking at some point And I think for a lot of us that’s a bummer in some key ways And I think maybe interrogating what exactly it is that we feel like we’re losing if skateboarding continues to grow Because what’s obvious is that we are gaining some really wonderful things The gates that were there in the ’90s, the ideas that were there about who should do it and who gets to decide what sort, if it’s a white activity or it’s a black activity a lot of that I think we’re fortunate enough to say in 2019 in the USA that I don’t think that’s quite as common And so to hear someone speaking of that in South Africa was kinda like a time warp But, yeah, I mean I think it’s going to continue to grow, I think it’s going to continue to be a profitable industry for a few key people and players and I think the impetuous is there to bring in as many different kind of skateboarders as possible And that’s going to mean sometimes like happy hour skateboard small group lessons at the local yoga studio, like it’s gonna be some things that maybe some of us aren’t super down for but that’s the trade off for less gatekeeping, less judgment, less sort of ideas about who’s allowed to do this and keeping people out of it – About this article, I really, when I saw it, I was super psyched ’cause I’ve known Tyshawn since he was like a little kid We’d go to a lot of contests and stuff that I held and just to see him elevate from that little like 12-year-old kid to this and everything he’s achieved is amazing And when this article came out, probably like at least 20 people that don’t skateboard forwarded me this They’re like, “Did you see this?” And again it’s all about this like exposure and awareness And I feel why I like it and why I think it’s great is it kind of educates people outside of skateboarding to learn about skateboarding from a source that they feel is credible And then I can have a conversation with them about skateboarding, them relating to this and then relating to me So I think it’s, I don’t know, I’m so psyched for Tyshawn, I’m psyched for this article It was written super well And like you said, skateboarding is, in a sense, it’s going to become normal – [Kyle] Right – Like I skateboard, my son skateboards and it’s the strangest thing that he doesn’t encounter like hardly any barriers when he skateboards It’s like, “Oh,” and his friends are like, “Oh, yeah, they’re gonna go to skateboard,” this BB social club, they’re gonna go to that with him, and they’ve never even like touched a skateboard But it’s like soccer was It really is, I was talking specifically at his school, it’s PS3, it’s like they have this after-school skate program that kids go to and it’s as normal as soccer was, like 10 or 15 years ago And I know what you said, you said that it won’t be as special for some people but it always goes back to when people ask me about the Olympics and competitive skateboarding, like there’s always been skateboard contest forever So to me it doesn’t matter And again I’ve been skateboarding a long time so I have that whole history of thinking about skateboarding As long as what it means to you is fine, then it kinda doesn’t matter what everybody else is doing with it I could see someone doing something that’s kinda wack skateboarding whatever but it doesn’t really matter, you know what I mean? It’s like as long as I’m doing what I like doing, then I’m having fun and that’s cool – The cover to this specific New York Times was actually an article on Asian-American affirmative action which originally caught my attention And then on the backside, as I was sort of just rolling through, I was like, “Oh, shit– – [Jilleen] Well, that could be a whole other panel – Yeah, I mean it’s a conversation piece – [Jilleen] Sure – Like you said, it helps bridge conversations to people who maybe not skating, know about skateboarding Maybe it’s just a piece that we wanna just keep in hindsight – Well, speaking of skateboard superstars, here on the wall is Van – [Van] Thanks, Jilleen – Yeah, so this image on this screen is actually a Villa Villa Cola spread from TransWorld in 2005 after Getting Nowhere Faster came out And, yeah, so I wanted to basically ask Van a few questions

Who was Villa Villa Cola, for people in the audience who might not be as familiar – Villa Villa Cola was the brainchild of Tiffany Morgan and her twin sister, Nicole Morgan They’re from San Diego And we had met them one year at the first All-Girls Skate Jam in ’97 Lisa and I, who were skating and filming for what felt like forever, maybe a year or two prior to that, met them and it was sort of this combustion that happened that summer And we just, we helped her on her project for school Lisa and I have footage that dates back from like the early ’90s We got together, we made a video, and it grew as a collective when we realized there were other girls that were skating like in California And then we didn’t really understand where Villa Villa Cola was going, we didn’t know who it was It was still like a trial and error of like, “What are we gonna do? “We have two boards “We sold out (Jilleen laughs) “We made two t-shirts “We don’t have anymore.” It was like our college fund was depleted after our first summer trip when we couldn’t figure out the exchange rate with like Canada or like, and we can only afford 8.5 back then ’cause no one would sell us like the high-end boards (laughs) So Villa Villa Cola is a collective of now what I believe, if I can remember correctly, would be Tiffany, Nicole, Lori D. who did all the illustrations, and she was the artist behind a lot of our content, the scenes that was produced, the short films, the DIY stuff, Lisa Whitaker– – [Jilleen] Faye – Faye Jaime, Rebecca Burnquist – [Jilleen] And Faye was skating like the, why can’t I think of a name, Vancouver– – Slam City Jam – Slam City Jam contest, yeah – It’s a collective of a lot of girls that came together at this pivotal point when we realized there were more than just us – So I’ve never seen actually Villa Villa Cola ever described as an LGBTQ crew But that’s my own personal observation from skating around you guys Is it an assumption that it should’ve been described as that during that time? – That’s a hard one, Jilleen The assumption of Villa Villa Cola was an inclusive LGBT crew – Sure – The language around that time in the ’90s no one was really talking about sexuality and no one was really even sitting around talking about who we liked We were just kinda like, “What are you gonna do today,” like, “What do you wanna eat?” There wasn’t language or conversation to be honest And I don’t think anyone was even comfortable to even ask each other, like, “Are you gay?” And I’m like, “Shit, I don’t know.” And I think we left it there because it was more important that we just skated – Today, do you think you would describe VVC then as that? – I would describe them today as an inclusive like group of girls Like, we embraced a lot of different types of people as we were traveling through the northwest There was never really any backlash with eight girls or a giant Barbie doll like kind of spilling out of a van It was welcomed We were welcomed everywhere we went so there was really no like downfall of not claiming that space, but– – Sure So typically when you think of skaters and cops a dynamic is like pretty straightforward and well-documented But I think that there are other ways of being policed that can extend into state violence, gender discrimination even when it comes to bathrooms Do you have a relationship with being policed and that’s something I wanna ask the panel starting with Van (heavy breathing) Or what is your relationship of being policed? – I had to personally really tackle like what it meant being female, a person of color, gay, masculine-presenting, all these privileges were checked day one And in terms of being policed, (heavy breathing) I think the public can do a lot better, they can do a lot better It’s 2019 If I wanna go in a bathroom and wash my hands, I shouldn’t be asked or shouldn’t be told, “This is a woman’s restroom.” Or if I wanna skate, I shouldn’t be asked like, “Oh,” or should be told, “What girl skate?” I’m like, “I think the public has a responsibility “to just do a little better, so.” – [Jilleen] But you told me something kind of cool that happened– – What? – [Jilleen] Recently It was like– – What did I tell you? – [Jilleen] You were coming out of a bathroom – Oh And then what?

– Oh my God (laughs) Let me just feed her her answers – I mean it’s tough, it’s tough It’s the most, I was super nervous – [Jilleen] The little girl – Oh, okay So I work in production in LA and on occasion we’ll have to do casting so we did a casting for my production company and we see a lot of people in one day But one instance, there was like a little girl and her mom, she came out of the bathroom The first thing that came out of her mouth was, “Hi, what is your gender preferred pronouns?” I just looked over and I’m like, (audience laughs) “Did that just come out of like nowhere?” She somewhere managed to ask me directly, as anyone else would, what my gender preferred pronouns and my response was, “Well, I’m glad you asked “This is awesome “My gender preferred pronouns are her, she, they and them “But thank you for asking.” And it was one of the first times in my life I was like, “That kid had a choice to ask, “or her mother had a choice in that involvement.” So there was no police in there, there was just a great, there was a great moment of like victory, like if you can just pass on one generation of, you know, to the next what it meant that just give people the option to decide what their gender was instead of just assuming, so Thanks, Jilleen – Thank you, Van – [Van] Thanks for the putting me on the spot (both laugh) (all applaud) – So if anybody else, I mean, has an experience or if not (laughs), okay So I guess we have just a little under 10 minutes I wanna ask, have you guys ever experienced racism while you’ve been skating? And when you experienced racism inside or outside of skating, how did it make you feel? – I haven’t I’ve never experienced racism in skateboarding I mean, personally, towards me, no, never, so And how do I feel if I come across? It’s very rare that I come across situations like that but I think that has a lot to do with growing up in San Francisco and now living in New York and the places that I’ve lived – [Jilleen] But have you witnessed a friend of yours? – Uh, not really, to be honest – [Jilleen] Oh, okay – No – Yeah, I’ve witnessed a lot I’ve never been like on the receiving end of racism but I’ve skated with a lot of folks who speak very loosely and casually racist terms I think the hardest thing for seeing racism for a lot of people who look like me, especially when the racism is coming from people who look like me also is figuring out like there’s that really critical moment and I think a lot of us have probably had it where you feel like you should say something and you don’t quite have the language for what it is you’re exactly supposed to say And of course, like, skateboarding has very real, if invisible and silent kind of hierarchies and you know kinda where you stand in any sort of crew And like some it’s based on how good you are, some of it’s based on how cool you dress, some of it’s based on how old you are, how long you’ve lived in this town, like there are, we have a very complicated kinda algorithm of who is, where the power lies And I think if you are someone who isn’t at the top of that power pyramid and you hear someone say a thing that you know is like not cool and you know shouldn’t go unchecked and that is the perfect opportunity to do the sort of calling in work that a lot of us probably believe that we’re capable of and probably know it’s our responsibility and probably know that the world isn’t gonna change among white people until white people start actually taking accountability for each other I think that’s a really hard moment And I don’t know exactly how we’re each supposed to do that because again the algorithm is really complicated If you’re the new kid in town and the coolest kid in town and said something racist and that kid is 10 years older than you, like are you really supposed to like waggle your finger in that kid’s face and be like, “Don’t say that, man “That’s not cool.” And maybe the answer is yes, like maybe it’s just that simple Maybe it’s just about like having the courage to know that that’s the right thing to do But I don’t know, I think that’s the conversation that I would like to have more of I think that’s the conversation that I know that I can have more of as a 41-year-old skater hanging out with

15-year-olds at the park, like, yeah I mean I don’t know that this answer goes in where except that, yes, I’ve seen a lot of racism It’s everywhere And I think that I’m probably more privy to it because people feel comfortable around me saying racist shit, right? And I don’t know, I think that’s maybe a question for everyone in here like, “How are we gonna deal with that “the next time it comes up,” ’cause it will, it will come up And you don’t have to be in Missouri for it to come up Like, it comes up in Orange County, it comes up in probably parts of New York – In New York City – Yeah – [Jilleen] Sure, sure – If you’re good at skateboarding, to a certain degree, that’s all the skaters generally really care about Like, they’ll talk shit to you because you suck, but that’s about it But generally most skaters truly just care how well you skate – Sure – Which, yeah I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m going with that – So I’d say the only, when I just, as everybody was talking I was thinking like, “When have I experienced racism in skateboarding?” I’ll definitely say in the early ’90s at the Brooklyn Banks There was definitely racism in skateboarding The usual crew that would be at the Banks, this is probably like 1991, ’92, was mostly black skaters And definitely when people came from the suburbs into the city to skate at the Banks, like immediately the black skaters would be like, “Who these white bitches,” or they say something like that And it’d be right away you would feel it, you would literally feel it And I kinda felt like, me coming from the suburbs and skating the Banks earlier than that, because I was brown I was kinda like, “Okay, so that’s not me “I’m not the white person “But I’m not the black person,” you know what I mean? So in a way I was kinda like I wasn’t bothered by it or I wasn’t physically bothered by it But people that I was with definitely were and it was like, “You can’t be here,” like literally people would say that Tell to people like, “Oh, you can’t be here.” Or they would be targets to get their backpack stolen or things like that – I remember skating the pier when I was growing up and there’d be locals at the pier and there’d be like really, really white dudes from like the Midwest, Here We Come And I remember one time when I was in high school, not gonna name names, this guy, he like focused, I’ll name him later to you, Lee, but– – Not right now – (laughs) Yeah He grabbed this dude, but first they got in a scuffle and then the dude, his board got focused and he was like totally humiliated in the middle of the spot and just witnessing it was just like, I mean and also later on he actually bullied me like during Y2K which was like, he told me he felt sorry for me because I was a woman or a girl and like, and he tried to like throw my board off the pier So he’s probably changed since then ’cause I follow him on Instagram, so it’s fine, but it’s definitely something when I was a teenager I’m not gonna say, “Oh, it’s ’cause,” but it’s like, it’s just like fucking chaos down there I don’t know, you know? But then when you are older and you look back on these things, it’s like, of course, it’s easier to dismantle stuff, break it down, build it back up, figure it out But so I understand like the sorta nature of like just kind of, just getting through, like not even trying, you know what I mean? ‘Cause there’s already enough shit going on everywhere else that when you go into a place where it’s like even now with like skate parks, like that culture is like totally different than like when we were probably skating in the ’90s and it was just like a shit show kind of So with that, I wanted to kind of, I wish I got to, get to some questions but I’ll post them online and I’ll have these people answer them including Kava at a later date But I wanted to kinda close this out with a couple quotes that were like really like meaningful for me So one of them was when I was like diving through like old Juice Magazine interviews and it’s this one up here on the panel It says Marty Grimes So he was an old like Dogtown dude and I think one of the first African-American skaters of that era There’s a quote that he has “Later on, you had the guys coming in “that were right behind me, like Mark Jones, “Leo Ambrose and guys like Bruce Thomas, “who is still skating around to this day “I think there were more people of color skating “You just didn’t hear about it or see it “That didn’t mean we weren’t out there skating.” And I thought that was, I don’t know, it’s just like so simple (chuckles), just like, yeah, like people were out there even though it’s known as this like, yeah, like white boy sport or something So, and this guy was skating in the early like Dogtown like sort of era,

so I thought that was really cool This whole article with him, actually the interview was with Jay Adams, who, if people are familiar, total bag of issues to go through there if you think Jason Jessee’s thing is problematic So, but it’s important to acknowledge, like, that it’s like, culture is like a scrambled egg You can’t just like expect it to like unscramble itself or something or just pick the parts that you like the best And sometimes you have like the coolest quote coming from like the most like pioneering like type of visible icon and he’s being interviewed by someone who killed somebody or whose actions led to the beating of an interracial couple and someone died from that, sorry, result of homophobia, so, which was Jay Adams So– (faint voice talking) Right, and Danny Way So there’s so many instances that two hours cannot cover all of this stuff But I also wanna end with another more positive quote by Dr. Maya Angelou (faint voice talking) “Do the best you can until you know better “Then when you know better, do better,” which I think is also a really great quote And also to come full circle with Kyle Beachy’s, no, no, I’m gonna read it, like I’ll read it So I wanted to end it on the same question that we came in here tonight with and that is, I have, like, so many papers up here guys (all laugh) Let’s see, this is really planned out, okay, so I’m gonna end it on this question that Kyle poses “40 years ago, Stecyk wrote the foundations “of skateboarding legend, the big question is this: “is skateboarding a primitive force, “or is it a progressive one? “Or more than that: will skateboarding continue “to perpetuate the old American power dynamics “of few and many, of white supremacy and brown otherness, “or will it work to dismantle them? “Does it PMA its way into cozy selfishness “or play a more difficult and labor-intensive role “in the world beyond itself?” So I hope that everyone that decided to come join us and spend this evening with us got a little insight into maybe different perspectives that they never actually thought about before And we’ll be updating all the content on heavydiscussion.com at a later date So I just wanna thank everyone again, all the panelists for coming out and sharing their experiences (all applaud) and all of you guys for being part of it (all applaud) Okay (audience cheers)