Despite the fact that surfing was invented by Hawaiians centuries ago and has only been adopted by those of Caucasian lineage relatively recently, the sport has been covered in the media and widely known as a white person's game.
Filmmaker Ted Woods sets the record straight in White Wash, a documentary that reveals the long and strong history of the sport, tells how it became identified as the game of blond and blue-eyed surfer boys and girls and showcases the achievements of non-white surfers whose performances have been nothing short of magnificent and record-setting.
Surfers Past and Present
Using fascinating archival footage and interviews with professional surfers and historians of the sport, filmmaker Ted Woods chronicles the story of surfing from its origins in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture to the present. Despite the sport's origins, it has been characterized as a white person's sport, as have most water sports. The film informs us that swimming sports, in general, remain the realm of whites, with fewer than two percent of swimmers registered with US competitive swimming associations being black -- compared with the 69 percent of blacks who are registered in the National Football League, for example. Why is this? Because racial profiling and prejudice lead to the assumption that blacks can't swim.
Of course, that assumption is ridiculous. A point proved time and again in White Wash by many black surfers, including Sal Masekela, Michael Green, Rick Blocker and others who appear in the film. All love the sport, have excelled at it and have taken strong stands against the stereotyping that would prevent them and others from becoming and being recognized as great surfers.
The film makes a strong argument for greater recognition of black surfers, perhaps to be claimed through creation of a black surfers association.
Surfing for One And All
Whether you're a surfer or not, it's thrilling to watch this sun and sand sport with its seriously dangerous and death-defying dimensions. White Wash
deserves a marquee spot in the roster of documentaries and fiction features that focus on surfing. Whether you participate in the sport or just enjoy watching it, this documentary will entertain you while making you aware of the tremendous contributions black athletes have made to advancing the stakes and thrills of surfing.
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- White Wash
- Director: Ted Woods
- Theatrical Release Date: September 9, 2011 (limited, with ensuing roll out)
- Running Time: 78 mins.
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Country: USA
- Locations: California, Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi
- Language: English
- Distribution: Virgil Films and Entertainment
- Official Website