To the Skaters Getting Started: We are a team, a family, an adventure

To all my fellow beginners out there, it is never too late to start skating or even to pick it back up again. I was 7 years old when I first started my adventures with skateboarding with no clue where it would take me, but with just one family member who helped me learn the basics! One year after I first got some of the basics, I stopped because I wasn’t motivated enough, which I sincerely regret. But many years later, my skateboarding adventure would see a new beginning at Lindsay Skate Park on 42nd Pl in South Los Angeles.

Gilbert Lindsay Skate park is where I grew as a person, and where I found my second family. To those who live around Lindsay Skate park or any other Skate park, visit them and experience for yourself how skateboarding and its community can help you as a person.

This year, due to the pandemic, my skateboarding had to be put on hold for a while, which wasn’t easy for me because staying home so much was tough and still is. When I was finally able to go outside again, getting back on my board was kind of odd at first because since it was put on hold for a while, certain parts of it became more challenging. Basically I had to relearn everything and it wasn’t easy. Skateboarding is something you must constantly practice or you’ll lose the ability to do certain things. But eventually, after two weeks of relearning everything, I got my style back and felt motivated to go harder, to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. It’s all helped me gain even more experience then I had before quarantine.

So to those who want to quit this amazing adventure that skateboarding can provide for you, don’t because once you see yourself grow you will only continue getting better. In skateboarding there is no shame for who you are or what skill level you’re in. No matter what, you’ll always be welcomed into the skateboarding community like it’s your second family.

To those that think needing help getting started isn’t “cool enough,” you are wrong. The adventures and challenges that skateboarding can bring upon you are not easy, so if you need some tips, just ask someone because it will help you progress in this crazy adventure.

The first skate deck I ever used was a “blind” deck. And if you still have your very first skate deck, be sure to keep it because one day you’ll look back at it and think about all the happy adventures that skateboarding began with. What I see for myself in these crazy fun adventures on my deck is something that will continue long into the future for me. So if you’re thinking of starting this adventure, go for it, and be prepared for the challenges it can bring upon your life. Most importantly, whether you see it as something professional or as something to pass time with, just have fun.

Life is filled with challenges and it can be confusing sometimes because everyone handles the challenges differently, but to those who can use some help with the many obstacles life brings, skateboarding won’t let you down. For myself, as someone who gets confused with life’s challenges sometimes, it’s not easy, but with the freedom of skateboarding, the happy adventures help me with everything else. They can help you too!

IR

IR is a skater and student in the 10th grade through South Los Angeles. He dedicates this poem to all the new skaters out there.

The Metro Blue Line train moving across South Los Angeles

You Cannot Be Neutral on A Moving Train, Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 81)

Howard Zinn, the renowned historian who was once a bombardier in Europe for the U.S. during World War II, published his final book, You Cannot Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, in 1994. A lifetime later, I can still remember being struck by his biography’s title for how the idea of “no neutrality” came off as both a challenge and an invitation to invoke the consciousness of a society claiming to be a democracy by giving anyone and everyone a chance to participate in its story.

In 2014, when I launched JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller, I knew I’d be telling personal stories to the world, but I also stopped short of thinking of those stories as personal histories. Today, by contrast, I recognize every poem, story, and picture on the site as contemporary historicizing from a personal perspective, or modern documentation from individual voices of the world around us for the purpose of having others, and perhaps just anyone other than ourselves, bear witness to our experiences.

For this reason, I’m proud to note that after six months since announcing the website’s call for submissions, I’ve had the privilege of publishing over ten different voices, all by people of color from Los Angeles and beyond, with the eleventh voice coming to readers’ screens shortly.

These small steps forward notwithstanding, however, I recognize that it’s still early, and that there’s still far more work to do to both challenge and invite more people to add their voice to JIMBO TIMES, just as there’s more to do to invite our neighbors’ participation into a democratic country which clearly still has a long way to go before it can be said to truly honor the democratic process it wants to be known for.

I think of the workers, as I think of the young people, all across Los Angeles, who’ve still got a lifetime in front of them to come to terms with before they might ‘participate’ in a way that might be hoped for or even expected of them. The fact of the matter is that many of them already participate when they show up to work each day to continue fighting for their survival through this increasingly stratified society. They also participate even before physically laboring at work by caring for their family-members at home, by taking up humble spaces and minimal resources, and even by acknowledging and sometimes lending a hand to their neighbors, so many of whom have been abandoned by their government for far too long.

I want to make Los Cuentos for them, so that they can also take their time learning about the history of this American experiment in a way that speaks to their character, in a way that allows them to explore their place in it, and in a way that makes clear how the future absolutely depends on their health and well-being by means of their rights to housing, working, educational opportunities, and their passing these things on to who they may.

Even after a lifetime of protest, there is still so much of this work to do, and still such little time, that I can only ask for Los Angeles’s best wishes as we set out once again in its name. It’s time to catch the train.

J.T.

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I have a dream

img_0937…that in 2017 the great Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy is still worth fighting for. What do you think, Los Angeles?

J.T.