The Inertia Founder

The Inertia

Last night, hundreds of surfers gathered at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas in a powerful display of compassion and unity in response to the death of George Floyd. Sal Masekela, surfing’s iconic announcer and personality, shared moving words with the crowd before paddling out to honor Floyd.

“This has been the hardest week in my forty-eight years on this planet,” said Masekela to a packed beach of peaceful protesters. “It’s been the hardest week to exist in my skin and in my blackness. It has been that way for all of us that have this skin to wonder what it is and as to whether or not we get to be Americans just like everyone else. But for all of the surfers that happen to be black, we’ve known and experienced challenges within this community that would probably shock you, because it’s been very hard for people to perceive perhaps that people who don’t look like them can love the ocean as much as they do. Racism is not a thing that we will stand for in the United States fo America. We’re going to take the full eight minutes and forty-six seconds that George Floyd experienced in that brutal lynching that we watched on television. We are going to take that full eight minutes in silence, and then we’re going to paddle out and honor his life.”

The transcript of the arrest that resulted in Floyd’s death then played:

“Officer, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Mama. Mama. I can’t breathe.”

“There’s nothing about this pandemic that we’ve been existing in that exposed that our systems simply just don’t work,” said Masekela. “But I do believe in the America that we can be. And when I look out at this crowd right now, this is the America that we can be.”

“I hope you will continue to stand for this thing called community until racism is exposed to kick rocks, because that’s not what surfing is about.”

The crowd then began to chant:

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?”


“Black lives matter.”

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Editor’s Note: To sign a petition to help find justice for George Floyd, go here. Make sure you’re registered to vote. We’ve spoken at length with Sal over the years about racism and surfing. His words then ring just as true now as they did then. Take a deeper dive below:

(HEADSPACE): Sal Masekela Discusses Racism and Surfing
Sal Masekela Recalls a Disgusting Encounter the First Time He Surfed in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Tom Carroll and Sal Masekela Had One of the Most Powerful, Heartfelt Exchanges We’ve Seen in Surfing
Bigotry in Surfing: A Necessary Examination


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