Black Girls Skate Part I: Meet Jhanaiya

Because skating belongs to everyone, and that's something no one can take away from us.

black girls skate featured image with jahaiyna

LD.World proudly presents you a new interview series with Black Girls Skate (BGS)! In these interviews we are going to chat with some of the BGS ambassadors (who are also outstanding longboarders), covering issues related to equity, activism and being a Black womxn in the skate community.

But first, a few words about Black Girls Skate! Their website says that:

Black Girls Skate (BGS) is a growing non-profit organization devoted to creating equity, visibility and safety for skaters who identify as Womxn and/or Non-binary AND Black, African, or Of Color.

We are specifically invested in amplifying skaters across the Black diaspora. We are unapologetically focusing our efforts on Black womxn, while supporting/promoting IPOC.

Black Girls Skate

We at LD.World are stoked to get to work with BGS and learn more about the aforementioned topics, the organization, and their ambassadors.

Allow us to introduce: Jhanaiya!

Getting to know all about Jhanaiya


Let’s get to know you first, tell us who you are and what’s your current setup! How and when did you start skating? 

JS: My name is Jhanaiya Smith-Butler, on instagram as @jhanaiyas. My current setup is a Bustin Boards Shrike, 37 inches, with Paris trucks.

I first picked up a board in 2015, but I started taking longboarding seriously in 2017. When 2019 came around and I started skating with the Bustin team, that’s when I knew I wanted skating to be my life.

What are your current goals/dreams?

JS: My current goals are to help those who are underprivileged. I come from a community where we don’t even have access to hot water and fresh fruit all the time. My goals are to use my degrees and activism to entice change that will directly benefit my community.

I come from a community where we don’t even have access to hot water and fresh fruit all the time. My goals is to use my degrees and activism to entice change that will directly benefit my community.

Jhanaiya / BGS

What would you like to say to womxn (especially black, African, or of color) who are interested in skating – but haven’t really tried it yet? How would you encourage womxn to start with the sport? 

JS: I would tell them that skating is for everyone! We as womxn, as people of color, work hard to succeed in a world not built for us. We deserve to have fun as much as the next person, and skating is one of the most fun sports around!

What does BGS mean to you?

JS: To me, BGS means that the change is already here. I do a lot of programming in my community, but you can reach so many more hearts when you bond over common interests.

Skating is something where differences don’t matter, it’s just about you and your wheels.

BGS is a family that is going to help people break out of their shells and become more confident in themselves and their skills, and I can’t wait for everything that we have in store!

What’s your story: how did you become an ambassador and what kind of stuff have you worked on? 

JS: That’s an interesting question. If I am being honest in my memory, I was following BGS right before COVID. When I started skating, and still now, I never saw any womxn skaters. Let alone one of color, and it was a miracle if they were Black or African-American.

When they [BGS] posted they were looking for ambassadors, a lot of people sent it to me, and I applied, scared out of my mind. The rest was history!

What are the most important things for you as an ambassador, and what would you like to do in the future?

JS: As an ambassador, to me the two most important things are inclusivity, and support. One, highlighting and showing the world that Black womxn and other womxn of color can skate.

Yes it’s a, it’s a sport dominated by white males, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out with your friends and have fun! The second, is being able to lend support.

Whether it’s a small organization that’s skate related, hosting events to provide opportunities to our target audience who need help, or if it’s just giving away care packages. It’s all appreciated.

I’m sure our readers are interested in how they can also support BGS. How can one help, what are the best ways to do so? 

JS: Share. Share. SHARE. You never know who’s watching. Sharing enables supporters to support us. Sharing shows a little black girl that there are womxn around the world doing what she wants to do.

Aside from that, like any other non-profits, donating. Every single person that is a part of BGS is a Black womxn. We put our personal paychecks into ensuring the success of our organizations.

Donations help with events, helps with resources, helps us help others. BGS serves the underserved in the skate community. And we need the skate community in order to do that.

Wrapping it up: We stand with Jhanaiya and BGS

LD.World wants to thank Jhanaiya for this super inspiring interview. We absolutely love what she’s doing for BGS and the local community setting an oh so very important example.

One of the main goals of LD.World is to unite the community and that naturally means being inclusive. We all share the love for longboarding and we want everyone to feel welcome and that they CAN and they are ALLOWED to skate (no matter the age, gender, skin color etc).

So, let’s all go follow BGS and help them to work for the important cause by donating (LD.World just donated too). Stay tuned for the next BGS interviews with Carla and Anne!

Much love from Leipzig,

Marjo 💜

Ps. Did you see Jhanaiya in Thrasher, how cool is that?!

About Marjo
Marjo is one of our first ambassadors - originally rocking the Finnish Capital of Helsinki and now based with the home crew in Leipzig, Germany. When she's not longboard dancing, you can see her creating amazing art or vegan creations.

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