Roller-skating isn’t Making a Comeback; It’s Been Back

SKATE+OR+DIE%21-+Roller-skating+has+been+around+for+decades%2C+however%2C+during+quarantine+the+hobby+has+reached+a+much+wider+demographic.+Many+credit+TikTok+for+its+%E2%80%9Crevival%2C%E2%80%9D+yet+this+claim+completely+ignores+the+ongoing+African-American+contributions+to+the+roller-skating+community.+%E2%80%9C%5BWe%5D+have+a+long+way+to+go+in+making+things+right+with+the+skate+community%2C+especially+for+skaters+of+color%2C%E2%80%9D+Ms.+Hanson%2C+an+art+teacher+and+roller+skater+since+2009%2C+said.

Daniella Hernandez

SKATE OR DIE!- Roller-skating has been around for decades, however, during quarantine the hobby has reached a much wider demographic. Many credit TikTok for its “revival,” yet this claim completely ignores the ongoing African-American contributions to the roller-skating community. “[We] have a long way to go in making things right with the skate community, especially for skaters of color,” Ms. Hanson, an art teacher and roller skater since 2009, said.

A lot of people have taken up roller-skating to pass the time during quarantine. Although some thank TikTok for its comeback, many believe that the platform discredits the constant influence that the African-American community has on roller-skating. 

“The whitewashing of skating’s online resurgence can in part be traced to racial biases embedded in social media algorithms used by platforms like TikTok,” Jess Joho, author of The whitewashing of roller skating’s online revival, said. Although the hobby has saturated many “For You” pages these past few months, Joho believes that TikTok is purposely suppressing African-American skaters in its algorithm in favor is white, cisgender women. Because this social networking service is no stranger to anti-black disposition, the claim came as no surprise. 

“The African-American community often gets overlooked in so many ways: music, politics, science, literature… [however, for me] it was normal to walk outside my house [in South Central] and see groups of African-American skaters,” Ms. Flores, an English teacher and former roller skater, said. She believes it’s important to acknowledge the impact that people of color have on positive activities such as these. Although Flores wasn’t aware that these skaters were not being acknowledged on certain social media platforms, she does admire the African-American community for their contributions to roller-skating. 

“My awareness and appreciation have greatly grown [for] the community, but also has made me think about what other things that African-Americans have done that the community does not get credit for,” Luisa Alvarez, a senior and roller-skating newbie, said. In addition to believing that TikTok is a biased platform, Alvarez also thinks it is necessary to give credit where it’s due. She believes that it is important to spread awareness about the African-American community in order to prevent stereotyping and further whitewashing of this hobby. 

Social media like TikTok have created roller-skating ‘stars,’ who are ‘influencers’ getting plenty of ‘likes.’ The problem with this is that many of these newer skaters are not acknowledging the history of skating that is rooted in African-American culture… skating is and has been a strong part of the African-American cultural experience in America,”

— Ms. Hanson, an art teacher and roller skater since 2009, said.

Hanson believes that when white cisgender rollerskating influencers render themselves oblivious to their privileges, it only causes conflicts within the rollerskating community. Some of these women even credit themselves for the accomplishments of African American skatersone of which was the desegregation of roller-skating rinks during the civil rights movement.

There is still a long way to go in order to prevent the suppression of African-American skaters, but acknowledging the influence that this community has made on roller-skating is the first step.

Have you ever ridden roller skates?

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