By: Jasmine Phat
Amy West, famously known as Indy Jamma Jones stared with a morose expression into the ambiguous space next to her camera, as she delivered a five-months-late, uncomfortable apology to thousands of viewers on July 7 in a video titled “i’m sorry.”
“My good-intentioned efforts could actually be creating more harm,” West said tearfully to the camera. “The only way we could actually create change is to acknowledge this, to find what is happening and dismantle it.”
The 16-minute long video, filled with long pauses and equivocal explanations, did not please the masses. West never fully acknowledges the incident that cost her reputation, career and longtime friendship with business partner Shayna Meikle, known as Pigeon. A large portion of viewers disliked the video, amassing nearly 3 thousand dislikes; the comments flooded with remarks of disapproval, arguments and jokes about the video’s format.
“Black lives are not political,” Synthia Lou, a Youtube user, said. “This feels empty and forced, like every Youtube apology video besides Jenna[Marbles’]’s. Keep educating yourself and changing. This is not my apology to accept but I hope for black skaters, it rings true for them.”
Amidst 2020’s tumultuous tension, people took to the streets, donned in protective masks and makeshift signs of protest, angry with a system that perpetually failed Black people; this time, the system failed George Floyd, and the world reacted with an infuriated outcry. Simultaneously, two Black skaters shared a video on their personal experiences with racism as skaters, as well as their reflection on the recent killing of Floyd on the Planet Roller Skate Facebook group, which was run by Jones, Meikle and hired moderators. Jones infamously deleted the post under the guise of it being inappropriate, upholding the principle of not allowing any political or religious content in the private Facebook group. This was seen as insensitive and hypocritical, as the Facebook group served as an intimate forum of sharing beliefs of body positivity and ideals of feminism amongst the abundance of topics of social politics.
With an eccentric fashion, eloquent skating skills and a charming personality, Indy Jamma Jones became a mogul of roller skating in the digital age. She was heavily associated with Moxi Skates, the most coveted brand of skates during the height of quarantine. Her Youtube channel thrived as aspiring skaters turned to her for a comforting, inspiring guidance. She emanated a sense of coolness that every woman desired to emulate; she was destined for roller skating greatness, with promising business endeavors such as a collaboration with Black-owned skating company Moonlight Roller, and her own children’s book was in the works.
West quickly went under fire while thousands boycotted Planet Roller Skate entirely, from their online store(now called Pigeon Skates) to their Youtube channel(now registered as West’s personal channel). She endured scrutiny from all corners of the internet, garnering disapproval on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, a virtual shun from all the masses. Meikle openly kicked West off the Facebook group and publicly announced that she would be on leave until further proving growth and education through her actions. Shortly after, Meikle abruptly announced that she would no longer be working with West due to failed compliance of requests, and that she was fired from Planet Roller Skate, which would soon rebrand as Pigeon Skates. It appeared as though West disappeared entirely, as her Instagram page was blank except for one post(insert post here), claiming that she would be back soon. She lost her collaboration with Moonlight Roller, and her book deal was nowhere to be heard of.
West’s impulsive nature is what caused her to fumble, her glory of fame quickly dissipated as quickly as it was built, especially during a time where the world wanted nothing more than to glide through empty streets on eight wheels. Her downfall could be considered one akin to Roman proportions as she disappointed the virtual skating world at the potential height of her career; skate websites spanning to the second page of Google were sold out on account of people desiring a new, active hobby.
The answer to fixing West’s tribulations seemed crystal clear: she shouldn’t have deleted the post. She should have apologized earlier. She should have used her platform to participate in public reparations, such as donations and fundraisers. She should have allowed Black voices and skaters to amplify their voice and talents.
On Sept. 5, a video titled “We are Planet Roller Skate, Let’s Roll” was posted on West’s Youtube account. A cheerful, confident West replaced the melancholy version from months ago. She issued a second apology, fully going in depth of her actions and explaining why they were wrong. Additionally, she cleared the air about her business with Meikle.
“It was never my intention to silence voices, hurt or cause pain, control the narrative, intimidate, or create an environment that did not feel open or safe,” West said. “I did not mean to confuse my followers and fans about my character and my values or remain silent during when Black, indigenous and people of color needed advocacy and allies most.”
West has plans to move to New York City with new endeavors, adamant . It is not up to us to forgive her, especially those who are not Black. It is up to her to show that she can make the difference everyone needs.