As skateboarding makes its Olympic debut this summer, the latest Black History Always special “Monochrome” highlights and celebrates the Black experience within the action sport.
As the title denotes, filmed in black and white, the 30-minute documentary dissects opportunities earned and denied because of a skater’s environment and skin color.
The cast includes generations and genders from streets and contest podiums, culture icons, and influencers – all skaters. Team USA Olympic skateboard park athlete Zion Wright; X Games silver medalist Samarria Brevard, old school legend Ray Barbee, and Grammy-Award winning musician Lupe Fiasco (“Kick, Push”) are among those showcased.
They provide an understanding of how skateboarding is both a metaphor and a reality in their modern-day lives.
“Stories are meant to be shared, especially when it comes to the evolution of a culture,” said Brevard. “I’m just grateful to be able to share my story along with people who have done so much for our skate community.”
Steven Lawrence, a member of ESPN’s Creative Content Unit, directed “Monochrome” alongside Atiba Jefferson, one of skateboarding’s most respected photographers and skaters.
“I have been skating for 32 years, and it’s a huge honor as a Black skater to celebrate and tell our story. It’s a history that is always studied and still being written,” Jefferson said about working on the project.
Clinton Yates, columnist/podcast host for The Undefeated and avid skateboarder, is a producer of Monochrome.
Yates added: “Skateboarding was my first real venture into the so-called white world growing up in [Washington] D.C. in the 1980s and ’90s. That fortunately dovetailed with the culture’s overlap with Black culture, and there’s no way around all the struggles and glory associated with that. I rode a skateboard for transportation and freedom. How that applies to today’s skaters, in the Olympics or elsewhere, is still a topic worth hearing about from guys that actually nail kickflips. I promise.”
New Black History Always content is available on the 29th of each month via The Undefeated on ESPN+. Visit ESPN PressRoom for more information.