We took a minute to catch up with Sydney skateboarder and very good pal of Smile + Wave, Riwaz Kazi.
Riwaz and I actually grew up pretty close to each other back in Sydney (about 5 minutes away), but there is about a 250 year age difference between us so a chance meeting back then never arose.
But here we are, cities apart sitting down to chat about skating, the BLM movement and how it is to grow up in Sydney with a shade of skin a bit different to others.
Riwaz Kazi Ollie - photo by Cameron Markin
S+W: So I guess absolute chaos would be a great way to describe life at the moment. Especially in Melbourne right now. How has life been in Sydney for the last little bit?
RIWAZ: Yes I really feel for you guys in Melbourne having to deal with the second lockdown. Once our restrictions got lifted here in Sydney, I guess everyone has been easing into the ‘new’ normal. It’s been nice to be able to see my friends and go skate around the city again so I can’t complain.
But man, 2020 has been something different. I don’t know a single person that has not been affected by the events that have taken place this year.
S + W: True, true, truuuue, which means there's no better time to reach out to a mate and just check in to see how they're coping.
So on top of Covid-19 comes the thundering power of the Black Lives Matter movement. Something that resonates right up there for both you and I.
What’s the vibe amongst the younger generation, particularly the skaters in regards to this massive movement?
RIWAZ: I think our generation have really given ourselves permission to express rage, sadness and fear. Expressing those things has always been common in our sub culture of skateboarding since we have always had to deal with police, so I think it was very easy for us to get behind The BLM movement and show solidarity in that sense. People shared things on Instagram and attended protests, but hopefully everyone is educating themselves so that the momentum can continue.
S + W: Yes! Momentum is a key word at this time.
You made a post not long ago describing some of the hard times you had to go through growing up all because of the colour of your skin. Obviously, racists are still out there in big numbers (yuck), but have you seen much progress in regards to racism in the Sydney skateboard community?
RIWAZ: Normally I am not one to voice my political/personal opinions on social media but its been such a powerful movement that I had a lot of emotion built up. Particularly reading stories from people of colour that I look up to, and my friends. It really made me evaluate my past racial experiences instead of sweeping it under the rug like I usually would. It was quite liberating actually!
Riwaz Kazi 5050 - photo by Cameron Markin
S + W: We've seen you film some amazing skate clips over the past year or so. Can we expect some exciting things from you in the near/post Covid future (whenever the heck that might be)?
RIWAZ: I have been working on a skate part for my friend Cameron Fraser’s full length. It’s VX and 16mm so hopefully it’s going to be a classic. This video was meant to premiere a few months ago at the Passport Store in Sydney, but unfortunately it got postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
RIWAZ: Yes I’m very excited for this but don’t want to reveal too much as we are still working out the logistics. Gem is a very talented sewer and I have some what of a ‘fetish’ for fine fabrics.
RIWAZ: I am no expert but I do have some basic graphic design knowledge. Over the years I have dabbled and attempted to further this every now and then. I kind of go through periods of inspiration where I'm very motivated to do something creative.
Riwaz, thanks so much for the chat, keep doing what you're doing and we can't wait to see what, maybe not this year, I'm cancelling the rest of this year! But maybe what next year has in stall for you.