Tell us a little bit about yourself….
First, my name is Yasmeen. I go by Yaz, and by Yaz So Mean on social media. I’m a young adult living, creating, and skating in NYC. I’ve lived here all my life and I find much pride in that, I’m a black girl from the hood making waves, connecting with people, and succeeding in ways that I never thought were possible.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about skateboarding. My board gives me wings and allows me to be part of a community whose people are just as into it as I am. I’m also super passionate about teaching people what I love and using skateboarding as a tool to build community and help others. I’ve taught children (and adults too!) how to skate through organizations and companies like Stoked @stokedorg , BBSC (BB Skate Club) @bbsc_ny , and others! In the past I’ve also helped to execute workshops and help facilitate skateboarding meetups. These meetups are super important to the community because it brings everyone together and gives POC, queer, and non-binary people a safe space to do what they love.
Why do you do what you do? What’s the most fulfilling part about what you do?
Because it makes me feel good to see other people feel good! I love the satisfaction I get from not only helping others, but influencing them to be the best version of themselves. Using skateboarding to help push that positivity makes it comfortable for me and less pressured, compared to the pressures of being a teacher or private mentor/tutor. I’m in love with the feeling of lifting others because that’s all I ever wanted in my life growing up, someone to do the same.
How has skateboarding empowered you and those around you?
From my perspective, skateboarding is empowering because of the freedom and power it gives you. We have a more intimate relationship with the environment around us compared to people who don’t because we’re able to skate just about, well, anything! It allows us to claim spaces and “mark our territory” in areas that you normally wouldn't if you didn’t have a board. It’s a companion, it’s a way of traveling, it’s a means of progressing and exploring your innocence and yourself, all in one. Skateboarding teaches you life lessons about determination, progression, and discipline. It’s empowering to a lot of people in different ways, everytime I ride, I’m always reminded why I love it so much and how powerful I feel doing it.
What type of change do you hope for in our world?
To first either reverse the effects of global warming and climate change. The health of the Earth that we live on is of the highest priority. Next is to stop worldwide hunger, food is always being wasted and thrown away by the tons. There’s no reason why anyone should still starve of hunger. In part to that we have got to either stop or slow down the consumption of meat and the high paced production of the meat industry. I have so many more ideas….
If you could fix one thing in our broken society what would it be?
What’s one thing you want people to know/remember about you?
When people say my name I want them to remember how much of a positive person I try to be despite all the darkness and negativity that brings me down constantly.
Describe yourself in one word.
When feeling uninspired, or down on your luck, what actions do you take to recenter, focus and continue on your journey?
I love yoga! That always helps me to be grounded. Surprisingly, I hate skating when I’m not feeling inspired. So I try to find other outlets that can help relieve my bad aura. Yoga, meditation, drawing, and poetry are a few of them.
What advice would your older self give your younger self?
Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. Tell them who you are.
What is one book you would recommend to someone reading this?
I love to read! I have a few books for different occasions.
Read The DaVinci Code! I know, I know, you’ve probably heard the name millions of times or seen a trailer to the movie that came out a few years back (which didn’t do it justice). The book goes in depth on history and religious artifacts and European architecture. Really great book that gives insight about the constant historical battle of Religion vs Science.
Timeline by Michael Crichton. Wow! I love this book. This book is another science fiction book that also gives a few facts about quantum mechanics (with references, yes!), as well as medieval century social construct. Super intense!
Saga. This is a graphic novel that’s, yes-- another science fiction. It focuses on the tales of two people from rival planets who fall in love during a war zone. They made an offspring which, of course the government from each of these planets wants killed! It goes deeper and talks about how war and love are synonymous. They go in depth about the psychology of society and how we can reshape the world with the next generation. Wow, just writing that out made me shiver.
Other honorable mentions include:
1981 by George Orwell. Chinese Cinderella. Warrior Cats series. The Skin I’m In