Xtreme Factor: Black Surfers Take A Stand For The ‘Jena 6′

By Rhonda R. Harper
Updated: September 24, 2007

CALIFORNIA — One morning changed all of our lives forever. September 20, 2007 in the wee hours of the morning, the Inkwell Surf staff and others marched in protest of the ” Jena 6″ controversy.

The “Jena 6″ are the six young men in Jena, LA who were unjustly punished for a school fight. While whites were allowed to go without punishment on several occasions, including being slapped on the wrist for hanging three nooses on a tree at the school, brandishing a firearm and beating a young man black teen at a party.

The case is still being tried. The defendant Mychal Bell, the student to be charged with attempted murder, but charges were converted to second degree aggravated assault has not been released on bail.

Knowing what may happen in response to the un-equal justice in Jena, we marched. We marched for our sons, our nephews, our cousin, and brother in-laws. We marched for our fathers and grandfathers.

Jena will live with us forever.

It was still the black of night when the group assembled on Gower & Sunset. We managed to get there on time and still have peace in our hearts. Under lying anger and fear raged through my heart. Starbucks coffee cup was in one hand and surfboard in my other.

My sign read “Our Children Are Under Siege”. The fact is that the night before I was having a schoolyard moment by saying, “Ok, I am still having trouble. Is it “I” before “E” except after “C”.

Kevin Cooke, from the Black Surfer Documentary, said “You’re right it is, “I” before “E” except after “C”. Cooke and Darrick Clayton drove from the San Francisco Bay Area to march with the black surfers.

Their documentary is in the works. Darrick also spoke movingly on becoming “aware” and confirmed that blacks do surf. I invited all the black surfers to march with me.

My sister went on minglecity.com and the Michael Baisden Show and posted information on where the march was to begin and end. Enough is Enough Black Surfers United Jena 6 March & Rally.

My office immediately filled my request for speakers and organization of the attendees. I felt we could make a stand as well. Why sit at home and watch it on television when we could really make a stand?

The night before the march I received an e-mail. The e-mail was in regards to a news segment on black surfers. I was watching the piece earlier the week before, but I was called away from the television. After reading the e-mail, I clicked the link attached.

The segment was on “A Black Surfing Controversy”.

The Black Surfing Association founder and CEO made a statement to the press about a riff between Northern and Southern California surfers in regards to a plaque dedication in Santa Monica.

Astounded by the inaccuracies in the story, I kept composure and phoned the BSA president here in Los Angeles. We spoke briefly about the situation. I spoke to the other black surfers.

We all agreed to not let the ignorance of one spoil the movement being made by others. We would see each other during the march tomorrow.

The proudest moment of my life was seeing Dedon Kamath, president of the BSA Southern California walked towards me with a camera. He understood me. He knew what I was trying to do.

We marched. Black surfers did unite, even if it was only for a moment in time.

NOTE: At 5:30 a.m., 100 protestors marched up and down sunset between Bronson. Footage of the march can be seen on youtube.com, v100.3 music, michaelbaisden.com, knbc, channel7 and various other news stations .