Critical Surf Studies; a discussion

Alison Rose  Jefferson's picture

On Sunday, June 3 Santa Monica’s Annenberg Community Beach House will present a public discussion with contributors to the to The Critical Surf Studies Reader (2017), including Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee, Krista Comer and Kevin Dawson and “La Maestra (The Teacher)” filmmaker Elizabeth Pepin Sliva, with moderator and historian Alison Rose Jefferson, about the history of global surfing that will include the experiences of African Americans and other people of color, indigenous peoples, female surfers, and how their stories are informed by issues of access and socio-economic context. Sign up for and learn more information about the event here.


The program is part of two days of activities commemorating the legacy of Nick Gabaldón (1927–1951), who some consider a role model, and, a historic site. Gabaldón was the first documented surfer of African- and Mexican-American descent in California’s Santa Monica Bay. As a teenager he began surfing in the Pacific Ocean at the Bay Street beach. The June 2 programming will be held at the Santa Monica Bay Street beach sometimes called “the Inkwell,” which is the historical African American beach congregating site from the Jim Crow era, the location where Gabaldón first began his ocean experiences. In 2008 the City of Santa Monica officially recognized the Bay Street beach/“Inkwell” site and Nick Gabaldón, with a landmark monument at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk.


Nick Gabaldón Day is one of the summer outings of the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Passport to Success LA2018: Life at the Beach series field trips for youngsters from South Los Angeles in Santa Monica. This innovative program engages youth in heritage and nature education, environmental justice ideals, civic action and expose them to future employment opportunities intersecting with beach recreation. This programming is led by SM Conservancy facilitators and supported by Heal the Bay education facilitators and the California Historical Society. 


Saturday, June 2, participants can take free introductory surf lessons and learn about local history, ocean stewardship, ocean safety and marine biology at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach/Inkwell monument site.At the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, celebrity guest readers will pop in for story time and special art activities will be offered, as well as screenings of three documentaries exploring issues of race, coastal access, and following your passion against all odds. The films include: “White Wash” (2011), “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story” (2012) and – “La Maestra (The Teacher)” (2014), film screening and Q&A with co-filmmakers, Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Paul Farraris with Krista Comer. Learn more about the event and registration for surfing lessons here.


Nick Gabaldón Day 2018 WeekendEvent Partners: Coastal Conservancy (2018 Sponsor), Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Conservancy, Surf Bus Foundation, Weingart Boyle Heights YMCA, Santa Monica Parents for Racial Justice and other groups.