BY SHANEDRA J. SMITH | STAFF WRITER
MAY 19, 2022
An article published openly in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported on statistics of youth gang violence between the years of 1980 and 1984 between children the ages of 5 and 14. According to this document, youth gang members were “disproportionately male, from single parent households, Hispanic or black, and lived with family below the poverty level.” In the late 80s, Jay Jones moved to San Diego, California from his native Arizona. He noticed that gangs were popular, especially for the black and Hispanic males who were vulnerable to the world around them. A young black boy eyed with the status quo of being recruited by a gang, Jones decided to defy and rebel—turning to the white-populated skateboarding sport as an outlet. “Skateboarding gave me that diversity, that experience to where I was able to share my life and share stories and things outside of the people in my culture,” Jones shared. With skateboarding and other sports, Jones was able to steer clear of gangs, and he became comfortable with being an outcast; an outsider who didn’t fit in and had no desire to.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Jones has always been an out-of-the-box thinker. “My personal brand is ‘I am Jay Possible,” he shared. Equipped with thick-framed glasses, gold teeth and a cool, relaxed persona, Jones approaches each day head on with a strong desire to bring something to his environment. Dubbing himself and his team at StakeForty8 as “hood hope dealers”, dedicated to winning young boys and girls from hungry gangs and other violent associations targeting black, brown and poverty-stricken communities. Jones worked with branding for non-governmental organizations, but while seeing many good ideas, he didn’t see much action or any lasting effects in the community from their movement.
Jones partners with like-minded businesses and corporations to give away skateboards to young kids and has been in full operation since 2019. “The pandemic tried to pandemic us, but we grew during that period of time, and we just wanted to be ready when things were at a rebound,” Jones shared. During the pandemic, Jones saw rise in mental illnesses with children and lots of family abuse escalate, so he decided to be ready and fully operational after the pandemic.
Jones has many plans in store for SkateForty8. The art on the skateboards are all designed by local artists in his area, and the designs are inspired by hip hop culture and putting a positive spin on the dark and demonic artwork displayed on popular skateboards. Jones sites Nas and Beastie Boys as a source of inspiration for the art, and the tagline is ‘Boards in our Hood’. “I wanted to create positive art influences on skateboards as well as creating a subculture inside of the skateboarding culture,” Jones shared. He aims to take back the violent mainstream urban culture and spread positivity over it; since society likes to claim the negative aspects of minority cultures. “Our culture has been stripped from us. It’s been sold back to us and we don’t become beneficiaries,” he shared.
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SkateForty8 plans on creating more opportunities in the near future, such as educational classes and health education for both kids and parents. Jones wants people to know that “black boys skate too.” There’s a lot of stigma behind black men enjoying skateboarding as it is mainly a white-dominated sport. “One obstacle I’ve dealt with is people not understanding my business model,” Jones shared. Either companies didn’t like his skateboarding niche, or they didn’t like the different style he was bringing to skateboarding. Many other companies didn’t support the positive artwork he displays on his boards. “The positive images on the board is not truly a real reflection of most of the pentagrams and demonic worship on the skateboards. So creating these positive images that have black, brown and native American culture, just positive, cultural images that are kind of a shake up as well.”
SkateForty8 is about inclusion and community. Their goal is to impact their community and make a multicultural environment for growth. With the more opportunities coming out in the future for Jones to impact more communities, his future shines bright with more ways of bringing positive improvement to black, brown and Native American communities. “I always say,” Jones started to share, “that you can get paid to build somebody’s brand or you can risk to build your own and impact the world on your lane.” And as a hood hope dealer, his goal is to promote collaboration and growth between all races to grow in understanding and teamwork.
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