Skateboarding has always been the realm of romantic rebels. Even after the corporate bonanza of the X Games polished off some of the sport’s rougher edges, new generations of skaters have continued to thrash and shred their way through the world’s urban landscapes with the same countercultural spirit. Yet, as with most youth rebellions of decades past, skateboarding is also traditionally a heteronormative boys club – which is why a new Bronx-based skate crew called Brujas is out to bring the sport into the 21st century once and for all.
Composed of politically radical New York women of color, the Brujas originally came together as a support network for young skaters suffering catcalls and abuse at the Bronx’s River Avenue Skate Park. But as the group of “Latina, indigenous, and black women” found strength in numbers, Brujas quickly became about much more than solidarity. Now, in a profile from the New York Times, several of the Brujas’ founding members get the chance break down the the importance of the sport in opening up a space for critical dialogue.
And indeed, as we see in the New York Times’ short documentary, the Brujas have taken their efforts beyond the skatepark to open mic nights, nutrition workshops, hiking excursions, and massive games of capture the flag. Along the way, the Brujas struggle has become more broadly about reclaiming public space and empowering marginalized communities in the midst of rampant gentrification.
For a group of young women in their late-teens and early-20s, this crew of ragtag crew of thrashers are responding to the challenges of their time with surprising maturity and intellectual depth, without shedding the revolutionary spirit of generations past. As Brujas co-founder Arianna Gil told the New York Times, “Every time we skate, it’s a way to tell the city we’re not just going to take these changes in stride. We’re here to add a little chaos.” It looks like the future of New York’s communities of color is in good hands.
Watch the new short doc from The New York Times below and and check out an older video profile of the Brujas from filmmaker Simona Brua up top.