It’s not every day that a world champion tops off your coffee, but if you’re eating breakfast at Naked Café in Solana Beach, it’s a likely scenario.
That is where you’ll find reigning women’s world longboard champion Cori Schumacher waiting tables. Though she has three titles under her belt — the only female longboarder to hold that distinction — Schumacher does not have any sponsorships and, in fact, she does not want any. She chooses to pay her bills working a nine-to-five because this independence gives her the freedom to publicly speak her mind, and she’s got a lot to say.
Schumacher is boycotting the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Longboard Tour this year because one of the events is taking place on Hainan Island in China, a country infamous for human rights violations. This is the first year that ASP has added a second event to the competition, something the women in this industry have been pushing toward for years, making the decision to boycott all the more difficult, Schumacher said.
“I felt like I had two choices: I could go with my reservations and wear a ‘Free Tibet’ shirt, or something trite like that. Or, I could stand up for what I believe in and hopefully call more attention to these issues through a boycott.”
Her strategy seems to be working. Schumacher’s boycott has got people in the surfing world talking and she hopes it’s also got them thinking.
“Every event has been in a place with a surf culture, so why China?”
The answer, she said, is because there’s a huge push within the surf industry to move production to China, even if it means doing business in a country with a history of putting profit above its workers.
“I’m not saying the surf industry shouldn’t go into China, but go in with your eyes open. There needs to be more transparency in the production line and supply chain. The surf industry is a $7.2 billion industry. It has the ability to change some precedents in China.”
For example, she said American companies could work with non-government organizations in China, which make unannounced visits to factories to ensure human rights violations are not happening. Schumacher is also using her boycott as a means to spotlight some other human rights violations happening in China, such as the government’s extreme censorship of its people and its one-child policy, which she said has been linked to a spike in infanticide, forced sterilization, forced abortion and even sex slavery.
“This isn’t about me or any title, this is about something much bigger,” said Schumacher, visibly choked up, the passion and sincerity in her voice almost palpable. “Back in 2001, I had won my first world title, something nobody in my peer group had done. That same year I sat and watched the 9-11 attacks feeling totally helpless. No matter how many trophies and titles I had, I still had this feeling of not being able to change anything in my world.”