Surfing was an Hawaiian cultural practice long before it became a Southern California sport. Hawaiian surfers George Freeth and Duke Kahanamoku popularized the sport at Los Angeles-area beaches. Freeth was sent to demonstrate surfing as a promotion of Hawaiian tourism. Both Freeth and Kahanamoku became promotional tools of Southland beach resorts. Their skills, their media-stereotyped Hawaiian personae, supposed links to Hawaiian nobility, life-saving exploits, and motion-picture promotion mediated their dark skin in race-conscious Los Angeles. By the 1920s, surfing (on lighter, shorter boards) had been adopted as a Southern California pastime.

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