From the NBA to U.S. Open Tennis, professional athletes have increasingly used their platform and presence to address racial inequality in the United States. Similar acts of peaceful protest are rippling through action sports, most recently with Australian surfer Tyler Wright, who took a knee at the WSL’s Tweed Coast Pro to call attention to racial discrimination within her own country. Like the United States, Australia is grappling with its own troubled history of colonialism, systemic racism, and discrimination. The two-time WSL world champion knelt for 439 seconds, with each second representing an Australian First Nations person who lost their life in police custody since 1991.
Wright released a statement prior to the event, announcing her decision to kneel in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. She wrote "I acknowledge that learning about racism is a privilege compared to having to experience it every day in every aspect of life. We all live in and amongst racist and prejudiced systems that discriminate, dehumanize, and continue to oppress Black People, Indigenous People and People of Color." The World Surf League also applauded and stood behind Wright's decision by stating: “The WSL is in full support of Wright and everyone around the world who are making their voices heard against racism and injustice.Surfing is for everyone and the WSL stands in solidarity to proactively work against racism and fight for true equality.”
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After her protest, Wright went on to win the event. She donated all her prize winnings to two Australian Aboriginal charities, and Rip Curl even added an additional $5,000 to the cause.
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