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Finding Community As An Immigrant In LA

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Onlookers at The Wall - Las Memorias AIDS memorial in East L.A. on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2004.
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The theme of LAist's Black History Month coverage this year is: “What does it mean to be Black in L.A.?” We'll publish reponses from community members and staff throughout the month. Add your voice to the conversation below.

Last week, we shared a variety of experiences about being Black Angelenos from LAist readers and a longtime staffer. Today, an LAist reader, an immigrant from Kenya, and an LAist reporter, born in Colombia and moved to L.A. in 2018, share two very different experiences on being Black in L.A.


"I am an African immigrant living in Inglewood. I couldn't have asked for a better American family than my community. I knew how to be an immigrant in America, but being Black was a whole other skill set. And thankfully, I am surrounded by men and women who teach me about Blackness every day. So for me, being black in L.A. means to be 'awakened.'"

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Peres, Inglewood

"My identity as a Black Colombian American often feels at odds with the predominant narrative of who lives and is L.A. There is so much vital and necessary celebration here of Mexican American culture and La Raza, but then so little recognition of the thousands of dark-skinned, Black Latinx folks who are essential to the fabric of this place.

"This got real for me a few years ago when someone I work with said to me, “You don’t look Colombian,” as if we’re all supposed to look like Shakira, or straight out of “Maria Full of Grace.” Latin America is very Black! But, thanks to white supremacy and deeply entrenched racism and colorism within the Latinx diaspora, our lived experiences are not the ones that make the mainstream.

"As a mixed-race Black person, I have tremendous privilege in how I present to the world. But I’ve felt discomfort in L.A. -- and within my own profession -- at having to 'choose' to fit in a racial box, ironically, in one of the most diverse cities in this nation."

Emily Elena Dugdale, North Hollywood

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MORE ON BEING BLACK IN LA

MORE FROM RACE IN LA

The first installment of our The 8 Percent project began exploring the inextricable ties between L.A. and its Black residents — how Black migration, community and culture have shaped and changed L.A. For Black History Month, we’re homing in on a more specific experience — yours. Tell us: What does it mean to you to be Black in L.A.?

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