Women, especially blacks breaking glass ceilings in their chosen field of work is worth celebrating. Proper Gnar, the first Black female-owned skateboard company founded by Latosha Stone in 2013 seeks to break through the male dominated sport and is creating a platform for female skaters in the U.S.
Promoting, patronizing, and investing in black-owned businesses keeps appearing in our social media feeds in recent times and social media influencers are helping spread the message through their various platforms. Beyoncé did her due by highlighting Black-owned businesses and Proper Gnar was featured in her June list.
Stone wants to make a difference in the sport and she told Black Enterprise that “skateboarding has traditionally been a man’s sport, which is why I am so passionate about my role as a Black woman who challenges past assumptions and shows that skateboarding is for all of us.
“I take pride in creating authentic and beautiful art that stands out from other skate brands. I live and breathe skating and art, and I think that is reflected in the work I produce.”
Being featured on HBO’s Betty also put Stone’s craft out to the masses as her skateboards were used. The series is centered on a group of female skaters from diverse ethnic backgrounds and follows their journey as they manoeuvre through the male dominated skating scene in New York City.
A few Black female skaters like Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, and Ajani Russell were on the show. They have all at a point in time chimed in on the lack of representation for young girls to look up to. Growing up they did not have anyone like them in this sector and they are breaking that streak.
In a recent Instagram post, Russel wrote, “I wanna be the role model I didn’t have growing up, for other little girls like me.”
Proper Gnar’s Stone also believes in representation. “I believe that representation is the key to having more young girls interested in skating,” Stone continued. “Genuinely loving skateboarding means you have to advocate and support it when you can.”
Regardless of the lack of skate parks in a typical Black neighborhood, more Blacks are finding their way into the sport in recent times. An article by VIBE in 2016, delved into Black millennials and their peculiar interest in skateboarding.
Nonetheless, skating has always had its own history in Black communities and today people like Stone are carving a niche for Black skaters, especially female Black skaters by manufacturing her own skateboards. The art of skating among Blacks was popularized in the 1960s but hit rock bottom in the ’70s due to a belief that skating was “kid stuff.”
According to Shanna Collins of VIBE, “with the rise of punk, gangsta rap, and grunge music in the 1980s and 1990s, skateboarding became a reflection of anti-corporate and anti-establishment values of the times.
“No longer was the subculture associated with wholesome, blond surfer boys on the West Coast; to the horror of white suburbia, it was now symbolic of urban anarchy.”
Stone not only sells skateboards on her website, she has printed apparels, artwork prints and other exciting skateboarding accessories that any skater would need for a day out with their skates. Her skateboards are aesthetically designed with murals of Black women, flames, and candies.