"Brujas" a NYC-based Black and brown women and queer people skateboarding collective is breaking the stereotypes associated with a sport usually identified with men.
The intersectional skating and activist collective that was formed in 2014 at a Bronx skatepark, was recently profiled on a recent episode of WNYC's "The United States of Anxiety: Culture Wars" podcast.
The collective defines itself as "an urban, free-form, creative and autonomous organization that seeks to build a radical political coalition through youth culture. We express community through skateboarding, art and political organizing."
Brujas co-founder Arianna Gil said, "Skateboarding culture is very difficult to explain to people who aren't in it, but it's like — you film videos with your friends, that's part of the culture," Colorlines reported.
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Focusing on intersectional liberation and building a community, the Bronx collective is creating viable spaces for women of color and queer skaters in the city, where the conversations are about skating, fostering real sisterhood outside the societal norms and issues affecting their neighborhoods such as gentrification.
Gil told Dazed Digital, “I always feel safe here. The only time I ever feel unsafe is when the police are here."
“So much of our world is described through patriarchal, rigid, academic, medical ways,” Gil added.
“Traditionally behind those perspectives are just men. In traditional Indigenous cultures, which a lot of our cultures are derived from, women were in charge of health and community and motherhood and wellness and food. Not in ways that were demeaning but in ways that were powerful," Gil said.
The collective pointed out how skateboarding is inherently political as it uses public structures for its performance, to begin with, questioning the ownership of private property.
The performance can be seen as a form of resistance as skateboarding is often associated with wreaking havoc on public spaces, in many ways it opens avenues for conversation about gentrification and colonialism.
“Skateboarding is really anti-systemic,” Natalie, a member of Brujas and an activist, who works for an immigration lawyer told Dazed Digital.
“There is this idea of wreaking havoc on society, and turning over the status quos. But who is to say that is not a peaceful process? Because society as it is, already isn’t peaceful.”
Referring to the politics of pro-development Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Rose commented, “It’s just so clear that this stuff isn’t for the community."
“The South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the United States, and nothing is really being done about that.”
The name of the collective was taken from a cult 1986 video called "Skate Witches," that features a trio of punk female skaters in leather jackets with pet rats. In the video, they are even seen pushing boys off their boards and stealing them.