Roller skating is a pastime in Detroit, whether you are on the west side at Northland Roller Rink or on the east side at Royal Skateland near East Warren. Whether you are 16 or 61, Detroit-style skating is for everyone.
Renaissance man, Demetrius Harmon, used the influence of skating in Detroit and his own influence to bring Detroiters together at his 2ndannual “Meech’s Escape on Skates” at Riverside Arena. Hundreds of eager skaters and fans lined up outside of the roller skating center to skate and mingle with Harmon and his friends, which included local rappers Sada Baby and Drego, and even Lil Yachty.
“The whole idea for the skate party was to have a safe space for all types of people,” said Harmon, who paid for attendees to skate for free. “There are so many diverse people in my fan base and group of friends, that I wanted them to be able to share a common space, co-exist, and not judge each other.”
Harmon could have thrown a party or a concert to get his message across, but he chose skating instead. As someone who has dealt with mental health issues in the past, he wanted an activity that would not only build community and unity, but would also place people in a happy place around others, letting them know that they matter.
“When I was growing up, you either went bowling or skating every Friday,” said Harmon, who grew up on the city’s west side on Joy Road. “I grew up bowling and with me dealing with anxiety, it helped me focus more. Skating does the same for others; it builds camaraderie, and encourages human interaction. I wanted to take that same concept and re-create that in an environment where we are skating and having fun.”
Harmon said he wants to host his annual skating every year in Detroit and also wants to take his message and event around the country to other cities.
The 21-year-old made a name for himself by doing short comedy videos on Vine, Twitter, and YouTube with his friends. Now, he is using his platform to bring awareness to important life issues, through his You Matter clothing line, inspirational quotes and speeches for teen battling depression and mental health problems, LGTBQ rights, and giving out hugs to complete strangers.
“With my philanthropy, I care about people so much, and I wanted to take my platform and make my millions of followers better,” said Harmon. “I can’t change the world, but I can impact that small amount of people that follow me and how they interact with others.”
Cover Photo by: Xavier Cuevas