If You Build It, They’ll Come: Part 2

By Rhonda Harper, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: September 24, 2009

NEW YORK (BASN)– This weekend the New York Surf Film Festival Presented by JetBlue Airways and The Dominican Republic kicks off September 25th – 27th, 2009 at Tribeca Cinemas in Lower Manhattan. One movie makes a breakout discovery, black surfers.

From the press release:

White Wash, by Ted Woods, is a film exploring the complexity of race in America through the struggle and triumph of the history of black surfers. Narrated by Grammy Award® winner Ben Harper with Tariq “Blackthought” Trotter of the Roots, the story is told through the eyes of black surfers and historians from Hawaii, Jamaica, Florida, and California.

This controversial and probing film looks deep into America’s painful and pervasive legacy of slavery and exclusion. From surfing’s “discovery” by Captain James Cook in Hawaii in 1778 through the explosion of surf culture during the days of segregated Jim Crow America in the1960′s, Whitewash explores the myths that black surfers have overcome in their search for waves.

BASN has been watching the progression of this historical of film work and others who have paved the way for a new generation of black surfers. This film could potentially change an era of black people who have been alone in the sport of surfing for years.

BASN will continue to cover all upcoming events and answer the questions, as this film and other project like it, become available for public viewing.


My inbox has been filling up with letters lately applauding the efforts of the people that are making a difference in this uncharted territory. Here is a sample of the questions I received.

Question: Will this be the “Beach Blanket Bingo” of a new generation of black surfers?

Answer: I think this is an introductory piece to a larger scale of historically documentary styled pieces coming in the upcoming months. There is so much that is unknown because a lot of us surf alone for years. Those people will add to the history that unfolds more and more everyday

Question: Will Rusty White and Solana Lansdowne (White Wash) become the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon of black surfing?

Answer: Oh, that was an e-mail to me from me. I can only hope.

Question: What about other black surf films?

Answer: What about them? Surf Noir is the only black filmmaker to present her projects to film festivals. It’s too soon to tell. Check hers out at www.csurfnoir.com.

Question: Will they receive the same welcome as Trespass Productions?

Answer: Can’t answer that directly, but what I do know is that Surf Noir also premiered their film. I guess it depends on content, I am not real sure.

Question: Are there any black films coming soon?

Answer: Most definitely. “The Black Surfer’s Documentary” is in its final stages of production. Christopher “Crib” Butler’s California Triple is available at www.ca3.com. Trinidad & Tobago’s Chris Dennis, surf legend, former multi-national champion, is working on a documentary about his life growing up in Balandra and challenges of being on a pro tour.

In my previous article “Part I”, I said, “If you build it, they’ll come.” We built it and they are here. What are we going to do now, P Diddy ourselves all over the place? Or are we going to build a dynasty for future generations?