Surfing the Divide

Blending sustainability, surfing, and photography for a good cause.


A local company, artist and surfing organization are workingtogether to bridge the gap between underrepresentation in aquatic sports and sustainability.

“ANACT is short for an act of kindness, an act of goodwill--we want to inspire anyone who uses our product to take simple acts that create impacts. We were funded on Kickstarter in September of 2019, out of UNF’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center here in Downtown Jax,” said Brianna Kilcullen, the founder of ANACT.

According to Kilcullen, ANACT’s products were designed to solve problems and better the environment. Products are 55 percent hemp and 45 percent organic cotton. The average product saves around 300 days of drinking water and the tote bags get rid of single-use plastic.

The company has partnered with SurfearNEGRA, an organization focused on bringing cultural and gender diversityto the sport of surfing. The organization provides awareness,education and access to girls of color who are interested insurfing.

Founder and Executive Director of SurfearNEGRA, GiGi Lucas, says her mission is to create enough access for the next generation to get into the sport and raise awareness aroundthe lack of diversity in surfing.

“I think that with African Americans particularly, it was disrupted with the slave trade, Jim Crow laws and then the Civil Rights Movement. As you know, we weren’t legally allowed to go to the beach until 1968, which is only 52 years ago so with that being said it was highly unlikely for a couple of generations to develop a relationship with the water, to have an aquatic lifestyle, to learn how to swim, to pass it onto generations, much less, learn how to surf,” said Lucas.

According to Kilcullen, the partnership started when she met Malcolm Jackson, a photographer in Jacksonville who photographed Lucas.

“I went to his exhibit in February and I saw a photo of Gigi

with her surfboard. Malcolm did a quick plug and mentioned Gigi and her work, and I immediately wanted to be friends with her and connect because I felt there wasn’t anyone doing such cool work in Jacksonville,” said Kilcullen.

The two organizations officially became a partnershipfollowing the death of George Floyd, after realizing they had the similar missions. ANACT then created a tote bag with a picture Jackson took of Lucas. A percentage of the proceeds go toward SurfearNEGRA. Each tote bag sports a poem by Lucas about her experience as an African American woman making waves in the Black community.

According to the World Surf League, 0.2 percent of U.S. professional surfers are women of color.

“We’ve had young girls get to get the bag and be super excited to see that someone who has hair similar to them or looks similar to them do something that they never thought they could do. I think that was really intentionally meant with this project - was how could we inspire people to start being mindful of everyday interactions, racial inequality and to createspecifically aquatic equality,” said Kilcullen.

“When we talk specifically about Black girls, there are heavy influences in terms of eurocentric ideas of beauty thatimpact their hair. A lot of them wear weaves or get relaxers and the more important thing is making sure that they’re seen as beautiful,” said Lucas.

Together the two organizations send girls from differentcommunities around the country to surfing camps and coverthe cost, so girls of color can build a connection with the water.

“Growing up in Jacksonville, I’ve always felt like it’s a very racist and archaic culture where people are very segregated and separated, and the people that built this city and this country are African Americans so it just felt like enough was enough of not standing up and bringing awareness to the people who deserve it the most,” said Kilcullen.

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment