SOCIAL STUDIES: An interview with, Darren Harper the "Official" Skateboarder of Washington, DC
John Richards @jrichards202 | 5/4/2012, 3:30 p.m.
Darren Harper: Yeah, in the past you had to kind of like be in the clique. DC is...I think it gets birthed into you, we protect our territory. It's kind of like, everybody can't just come and just think they're gonna fit in. It's just like you gotta work your way in, you gotta meet people and you just gotta be cool. I don't wanna say get the approval but you gotta be good peoples man. For the most part it's friendly, we do our thing, and it's like getting into a family. Skaters are looked at differently, so you gotta initiate yourself to get in somehow [Laughs].
Washington Informer: How influential has Chris Hall been in your career and in your life?
Darren Harper: Chris Hall's been very influential because I mean he was the guy who believed in me first, before anybody, when I came back to the skate game. I was deep in the streets selling drugs you know, he remembers he can tell you. I came down (to Freedom Plaza), I had a bullet hole in my windshield in my car, a friend of mine shot at me, we were in a big shootout and stuff like that. Chris was just like you know 'you I'm gonna help get you out of this' he didn't want to see me end up like some of the people that we knew and most of my friends. He was like 'we're gonna figure this out'. He was a shoe collector during that time but Chris Hall is an ex professional (skater) as well. Chris sold his shoes to buy a camera just to film me. We made a DVD, after that we went to Cali and we pitched it and made a whole video.
Washington Informer: You grew up surrounded by drugs and violence, what would you tell kids growing up now in a similar situation?
Darren Harper: I would tell them they just have to stay grounded and focused. You have to understand that just because you live around it don't mean you have to get involved with it. It's just about having that willpower and being set and that inspiration and motivation. I think it starts with the parents as well or somebody close who can possibly mentor that youngster, or motivate them to be on the right path. See that was kind of my problem, like I had it in others but it wasn't from the dominant people in my life. You know, it was more so like people that was in the game. They was trying to tell me, 'don't mess with the game'. It's like a big contradiction...you know what I'm saying? How are you gonna tell me, but then you go right there and sell that piece of crack. It's about getting our kids to think outside the box. I think to keep them on the right path; we have to get them involved with more things.
Washington Informer: Do you consider yourself a role model?