Xtreme Factor: It’s Finally Over! Black History Is Made As Unity Breaksdown.

By Rhonda R Harper
Updated: September 27, 2007

Inkwell Beach Plaque Location SANTA MONICA, Ca. — The city has finalized the proposed plaque earmarked for the forgotten Ink Well Beach in Santa Monica. “Ink Well” as it is known, was a segregated for “negroes only” stretch of beach. African Americans at this time were not allowed on the same beach as whites; Mexican American and Asian Americans were allowed.

In a document released to me, the city council has selected the fabrication and the text for the Inkwell Beach Nick Gabaldon commemorative plaque. An event is to be scheduled by the city at a later date. A black tie gala is also in the works.

It reads:

Last year, Council directed staff to research options to create a plaque designating the portion of Santa Monica beach that was historically restricted to African-Americans as well as the first documented African-American surfer Nicolas Gabaldon.

This was in response to a request by Ms. Rhonda Harper at the Council’s annual budget hearing on February 14 th, 2006, as well as inquiries and support from several members of the Black Surfing Association.

Staff met with the interested parties, attended a meeting of the Black Surfing Association, researched the history of the site as well as Nicolas Gabaldon’s biography, and contacted historian Alison Rose Jefferson. Suggested language for the plaque was submitted by the various interested parties and several drafts were circulated for review.

Staff also solicited input from the former chair of Santa Monica Conservancy, Ken Breisch. The final draft was developed by historian Alison Rose Jefferson who is currently employed by the Historic Resources Group.

The bronze plaque (approximately 20 by 24 inches) will be mounted on an attractive large scale boulder and placed in a small landscaped area adjacent to the intersection of the bike path and the boardwalk that extends out onto the beach.

The location was selected to offer the public the opportunity to learn about one aspect of the history of that specific stretch of beach without impacting the existing landscaping.

This dedication has been a source of controversy over the last two years. The events following the plaque request were a mixture of comedy and intrigue. Folklore and urban legends have sprung because of one night February 14, 2007.

Urban Legend or Truth?

Black Surfing Association had a plaque request into any city?

Urban Legend: The association’s historical advisor was asked had a request ever been made prior to the initial request. The response was “no”.The entire membership of the Black Surfing Association was invited to join and support the plaque request. No one supported the request for a plaque until the city came to visit the association for further historic information.

Is there a rift amongst black surfers in Northern California vs. Southern California?

Partial truth, partial urban legend: Upon meeting the founder of the Black Surfing Association, I was made aware that the opinions of the current president in Southern California were not welcome by him. I was also informed that an impending motion to have him replaced was on the table for discussion. This confirmed by another member in Northern California. This rift was prior to the plaque dedication.

Is Inkwell Surf a sponsor of the Black Surfing Association?

No. Inkwell Surf and it’s youth organization Inkwell Surf & Sk8 Club is in no way associated with the BSA. Inkwell Surf and Inkwell Surf & Sk8 is an equal opportunity company and organization. Inkwell Surf has its own mission statement and beliefs that are not those of the association for that, Inkwell Surf remains self sponsored.

Negativity and jealous banter have clouded the sky above Santa Monica, Ca as African American surfers scatter to become the first make claims to fame. A shadow has been cast.

Instead of praise and hope for the future. The wind has been let out of the black surfing sail as, Association members jockeying for position like crabs in a barrel. Association disregarding members’ achievements within their own group to make headlines in magazines and newspapers.

Is this the part of black surfing I wanted to be a part of? I had to ask myself “What did I start?” This movement started with the lack of black surfers in general and somehow got side tracked by greed. I have been reading articles on what this association has done versus the private entities.

Who should have the market cornered on black surfing? Is this what the people of Inkwell Beach and Nick G., himself represented in their lives? I think not. African Americans please wake up, the world is watching “us”.

In the 23 days since I have received confirmation of the impending plaque dedication, I have seen the surge in black surfing websites and editorials, I watched an association leader embarrass himself and his organization on the national television trying to portray himself as a surf demi-god, by making divisions in the community that simply are not there.

In surf articles representing himself and his personal interests. Not to mention the false accusations. He once told me not to shame black surfing. Funny thing that hypocrisy thing is. He doesn’t remember our humble beginnings. I have been watching in complete horror how we have begun to act as the day looms new to unveiling.

There is a lot of ego grandstanding amongst the Klan of so-called brothers and sisters of the black surfing movement. Each group is trying to have their involvement notarized in public. One dissing the other.

I have been asked to be interviewed on many occasions regarding this dedication. I have declined most. Why? The mission has not been accomplished. There are currently no African American professional surfers in the World Qualifying Dream Tour or Juniors.

There are currently no African American female surfers in the WQS or the World Tour. There is currently no African American presence in the junior lifeguard program. Mostly, there is currently a myth that African Americans don’t swim. Lastly, with an African American beach being inserted in our history, why is there no unity. Having said that, what is the point of the interview?

If what I am doing sparks a new generation of surf related businesses within the Afro American communities then my job is almost done. If I am paving the way for a future of philanthropy within Afro companies, than I am getting closer.

If what I am doing lends a hand to one African American that has says one day, “I want to try to do something out of the box. I want to surf”, the finish line is insight.

If I can surf with another African American surfer that just wants to surf and have fun, my job is done.