In 2011, Farhana Huq and Mira Manickam founded Brown Girl Surf, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California whose mission is to “amplify the voices” of brown women surfers. Gradually expanding, today they’re also fostering a community by teaching environmental awareness, increasing access to surfing, and providing lessons for those looking for their way in the water.
“I feel like the organization represents me,” Natasha Brown, who started volunteering with Brown Girl Surf earlier this year, recently told The FADER. “It represents everything that I stand for. It wants to create a space for me and for that I’m so grateful.”
In a climate where minorities are inundated by callous rhetoric and triggering headlines, organizations like Brown Girl Surf—who aim to create safe spaces in which brown women can look out for each other—are necessary. Brown notes that despite some scary experiences (she was once swept away by an ocean current and went missing for 15 minutes when her board’s leash broke), she still finds a sense of peace in the water that she doesn’t find as a young Black girl navigating America.
“I’m way more fearful of being a female of color on land in America than I am out there in the middle of the shark triangle where they’re nesting and giving birth,” she continued. “Last week I saw a shark and I still felt a lot safer than when I went home and, looking on my phone, realized that, ‘Oh, our president is supporting white supremacists.'”
According to the organization’s website, they also conduct stewardship projects, nature education, and “environmental actions” within their surf programs and throughout the year as stand-alone activities.
“We are strong in our bodies and our minds, and invent ourselves in our own images,” their manifesto states.