The Burton Blog

Alekesam: Behind Selema Masekela and Chase Hall’s New Snowboard

The newest snowboard in the Family Tree brings Selema Masekela and artist Chase Hall’s shared passion for black empowerment in the outdoors to life.

Selema has become a household name as one of snowboarding’s most trusted and influential commentators over the last two decades. In recent years he’s stepped into a variety of new roles within the community (including joining Burton’s Board of Directors and becoming Chief of Sports Culture at X Games) and embarked on other ventures such as a musical career under the name Alekesam. He’s become one of the loudest voices promoting diversity in the snowboard community and helps drive events like Culture Shifters to push the conversation into action. Now, that includes collaborating on a board featuring both his names: The Alekesam.

It’s very difficult to explain what it means to have a snowboard with my name on it,
– Selema Masekela

“I think if 21-year-old me, answering the phones at Transworld Snowboarding Magazine, could see me now,” Selema says, “he’d be like what? What happened? How’d we get here?”


In 2023, the Burton hardgoods team asked Selema if he’d be interested in collaborating on a new addition to our Family Tree line of freeride-inspired boards. They set to work on a series of prototypes based on Selema’s unique design ideas. “It’s got this really cool tail,” Selema says. “I basically got inspired by one of my surfboards, this really fun twin fin that I love riding. I wanted a solid board that works out on the groomers, that works in challenging variable snow, and that you could have the best time ever on a powder day. I think we cracked the code.”

As for the graphics, Selema’s mind was already made up. “When it came time to talk about art,” he says, “I was like, ‘Listen, the only person who can do graphics for this board is Chase Hall.’

Selema and Chase met a few years prior and quickly bonded over a shared passion for snowboard culture and their experiences as black riders in a community historically dominated by white faces. Selema learned that Chase’s journey into art was inspired by snowboard graphics in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. From that point on, Selema was on a mission to get him involved in board design at Burton, and the Alekesam manifested as the perfect opportunity.


“He was doing all this work that showed black imagery in unfamiliar spaces,” Selema explains. “His work was so much about showing blackness out in the world in ways that we may not normally be used to, and celebrating the strength and power of our infinite diversity. The emotion of the colors, especially in the brown skin tones and textures, is just really powerful.”

“For a very long time I was one of the handful of people in our sport that looked like me, and that was a very strange existence,” Selema explains. “To constantly be thought of as different because I was snowboarding.”

“Now I’m all about trying to empower as many of the next generation of people who look like me, or who look different than the traditional people who identify as snowboarders, to realize that this is our space, too, and we can take up healthy space and enjoy the power of the mountains.”


“I wrestle with being worthy of being able to have this. I don’t take it for granted. Being able to have this Alekesam board with Burton is just a massive milestone in my snowboarding career. It’s all downhill from here.”

Be sure to follow Selema and Chase Hall to see what the future holds.