Na-Kel Smith has opened up about his personal experiences of racism within the — predominantly white — professional skateboarding industry.
During a recent Instagram Live session with Kevin White and Mikey Alfred, Smith detailed instances in which his white colleagues have taken advantage of their privilege. While refusing to provide a list of names, he did call out one individual — industry veteran and former Thrasher editor-in-chief, Jake Phelps, who he says used the N-word in his presence on numerous occasions. The 25-year-old skater also touched on other instances when white skaters would either ask for approval to use the term or just verbalize it regardless and pass it off as banter.
Smith points out that many of those within the sport show no hesitation in treating minorities as if they are lucky to be a part of it. He mentions how black skaters are often highlighted in videos backed by hip-hop music and talks of times he was asked to engage in racially insensitive acts for sponsorship deals and branding. He also states verbatim that “some of your favorite skate companies don’t give a fuck about the black man.”
As Smith says at the beginning of his Instagram video, which runs 35 minutes in length, “I’m just here to speak up as a black man that has been involved with this shit since I was like 17.” Watch it in full below.
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