Lee Smith’s history in skateboarding runs deep. He first got sponsored by Mark Gonzales’s 60 / 40 back in the ‘90s and eventually transitioned with the rest of the team to Kareem Campbell’s Menace—the first brand to fully embrace urban culture.
Lee’s background gives him a unique perspective. He came up in a different era and helped pioneer a movement with Menace that had a huge impact on skateboarding’s direction at the time. Given that, and the current political climate in the United States, Smith decided to produce a deck that provides a bit of social commentary and nods to an era when these types of graphics were the standard.
He explains it as follows:
“The great thing about skateboarding is that there are no boundaries—rich or poor, black or white, women or men. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Anyone that chooses to ride a skateboard can do just that.
At the same time, skateboarding has always been about satirical graphics that mirror the current social climate and that’s what I wanted to do with these Black Skaters Matter boards. There was a time when it was slightly weird to be a black skateboarder. For some reason, it wasn’t socially acceptable. Fortunately, those times have changed. So to me, it’s funny and strange to think about those days and to see where skateboarding is now in 2017. It’s amazing how far we’ve come.”
The Black Skaters Matter deck is being produced by Seven Eight—a lifestyle brand that Lee co-founded with Jessica Albertini nearly three years ago. Available in 8.0 and 8.25 and made in New York, you can preorder the decks here. For more on Lee’s history, check out his Bobshirt interview below.