Rollerskating is having a moment right now, thanks to TikTok, which has flooded feeds with clips of carefree skaters cruising on eight wheels as they soak up sunshine on pavement and boardwalks.
The mesmerizing trend— which has been slinking in the background of recent pop culture, like HBO’s “Euphoria” and “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” — seems to be the perfect antidote to pandemic blues: Strapping on a pair of skates is synonymous with summertime fun, no social distancing required.
It helps that experienced skaters like Berlin-based Oumi Janta and instructor Coco Franklin make the recreational hobby looks effortless, pulling off dance moves with heel flicks and carving through concrete like butter.
Janta, Franklin, and others have spurred viewers to buy rollerskates at unprecedented levels, causing global skate shortages that have orders backed up for months. It’s led to news coverage and social media chatter insinuating that the retro fad of rollerskating is “back.”
But as any pre-pandemic skate enthusiast would tell you (and what they’ve likely spent eons convincing their friends of): Rollerskating has always been alive and well, holding a specific importance in Black culture especially.
As Mashable reports, the major Black contributions to modern rollerskating have been largely “whitewashed” by the majority white skaters taking up space.
The whitewashing of rollerskating hasn’t gone unnoticed by critics, many of whom reference the 2019 documentary “United Skates” for clearly outlining how rollerskating culture is tied to the Civil Rights movement and has been fiercely defended by generations of...