If you’re familiar with skate culture, then you’re likely familiar with the enviable boys club that comes along with it. The shared love of skateboarding creates a familial bond that is translated seamlessly, defying language, race and origin. Don’t believe me? Watch two skaters reveal their fondness for the sport to one another. It is magic, something that I have witnessed many times and regard as a mystic brotherhood. When I was first introduced to Cuba Skate, I was fascinated by the rich culture that flourishes wherever skateboarding is introduced, regardless of global boundaries.
The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit initiative was created by two University of Michigan graduates who formed strong ties to the Cuban skate community while participating in a study abroad program in Havana. By providing equipment that is typically unavailable to the island (note: Cuba Skate was founded in 2010, six years before the United States lifted the Cuban Embargo), renovating Cuban skateparks and creating self-sufficiency within the country’s skate community, the program hopes to connect Cubans with the international skate community.
It seems that Cuba Skate is gaining traction and forming bonds with legends of the community, evidenced with a recent visit from Andrew Reynolds, Ishod Wair and Lucien Clarke. However, there is still work to be done, as Havana’s local skatepark, El Patrinodomo, is a work in progress and there is not a single skateshop on the island. While the perseverance of the country’s skate community is admirable, the facts are bleak. Skating is a rough and dirty sport that snaps wood boards with ease. In the states, a kid can save up his lunch money and walk into another skate shop, purchase a complete and get back to it. In Cuba? Not so much.
While the lifting of the embargo is great news for the Cuban skateboarding community, they still need support. Learn more about the vibrant culture of Cuban skating here. Shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to donate a deck or make a financial contribution here.