We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Lowry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
As the Black-Native American founder of “Awkward Skate Magazine,” (@awkwardskatemagazine) an inclusive skate culture magazine for skaters of color who identify as womyn, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming (including skaters with disabilities), I provide silenced skaters with the platform they deserve. Submitters can send in any type of art form that they wish, ranging from short essay, painting, video, photography, illustration, etc about their experiences rollerskating or skateboarding. Since starting the magazine, I have talked with quite a few womyn and non-binary skaters of color who have revealed the discomfort they experience at skate parks that are dominated by young, White, cis-gendered men. At their neighborhood skateparks, they were ostracized and prevented from skating in the same areas that are free and open to the public. This is disgusting to me, and we need to band together to protect our skaters of color at the skate park, demand equality, and have conversations about why skaters of color who aren’t feeling empowered in skate culture because of White supremacy and lack of representation. I have collected submissions over the last few weeks that have brought me to tears because while I’m hurt to hear these stories, at the same time, I finally feel as if I have a place after being put down for so many years, and being told that skateboarding was “not for Black girls.” Instead of turning my anger and frustration about the disregard of Black womyn, GNC, trans, and non-binary skaters, I have decided to build my own skate collective from the ground up, where the oppressed are at the forefront and are the driving force of a publication that was made for them.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets “Awkward Skate Magazine” from most publications in skate culture is that it is simply a platform for the elevation of marginalized voices. There is no infiltration of views or biases that hinder authentic stories. “Awkward Skate Magazine” is made for the silenced, created by the silenced. It was birthed from a place of confusion and oppression with the refusal to internalize it and feed into the stereotypes and prejudice that often comes with being a non-White, non-Cishet creator. We’re most proud of the openness that our submitters have with the magazine. We have conversations about mental health, racial injustice, disability rights, and gender identity biases online in order to give space to those who may not feel comfortable with sharing their views in their real-life communities. Submitters don’t hold back with their experiences which comforting to know that a stranger across the country/world is going through the same thing. We are most excited about launching our print issues, which will be in the form of a hardcover, high-quality photo book with soft-touch pages, and mailed for free to submitters. We want to make the magazine as accessible to everyone as possible! We are slowly building our community every day through social media! It certainly has not been easy with daily news breaking about COVID-19, Black lives lost due to police brutality, and the heavy loss of pinnacle Black icons, such as Chadwick Boseman, which was incredibly hard to process during the launch week of our magazine. We overcame the challenges by simply talking about it with our readers, assessing our pain and finding healthy outlets such as skating and creating art through our grief. Along the way, we’ve learned the importance of protecting our work through copyright laws, maintaining authenticity, and holding up our mission statement daily without White influence. We stand firm with our POC readers in providing them security and support through DMs and surveys about how we can be more inclusive and progressive. The most important thing we want the world to know is that skaters of color matter, regardless of outdated traditional views where POC womyn, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming skaters do not exist. We’re here and we will stay quiet.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Here is a really informative collective list that showcases Black, hardworking individuals who strive daily to enhance the Black experience in Los Angeles by providing genuine and high-quality customer service: https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-06-03/black-owned-businesses-in-los-angeles Also: here is a video for Pharrell and Jay Z’s Black Lives Matter track, “Entrepreneur” that showcases successful Black-owned businesses and innovators in L.A. and features game-changing Black pioneers like, Tyler, The Creator and Issa Rae. The video also pays homage to the late Nipsey Hussle. https://youtu.be/bTOoY5MIkvM
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank Mikey Alfred and Illegal Civilization, Briana King, Na-Kel Smith, Tyshawn Jones, Odd Future, and the cast and crew of HBO’s “Betty” for showing me Black people doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do since 2011. I love their work, craft, and determination to amplify Black voices in skate culture. Without them, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable being on a skateboard. They carved the path that I needed to tap into my own potential. Also, I’d like to thank Tyler, The Creator too for providing the soundtrack to my life, blurring the gender binary through art, music, and fashion, and constantly reminding me that Blackness is a gift. I’d like to thank the skating community as well who have encouraged me every step of the way. I am so thankful for the friends I’ve made through creating AWKWARD. Each day, I can connect with people who are simply looking for community and safety in such a hard time. Through crafting this magazine, I have gained a new sense of purpose after battling difficult lows after graduating and the year that has followed along with mourning with everyone during this unprecedented time. *Also shoutout to Goldie at The Skateboarding Hall of Fame for hooking me up with a ton of gear, taking out the time to make sure everything fit, and giving me so much motivation to start skating when I first bought my board.
Other: For any skater of color who identifies as a womyn, non-binary, trans, and/or gender non-conforming, here is our submission link to share your skating story or artwork: https://forms.gle/6f2wVjmVmujLDJUU9! Submissions are always free, but donations are greatly appreciated that will fund the full-color printing of each quarterly issue. To contact, our email is always open: firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate through Venmo: Courtney-Lowry-10! 🙂
Jalisa Brooks (@naturalskater) G (g_sliiidez) @honeybee_reads_n_skates @backwoodsdirt/@dirtystarlight