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'A Slow Burn Of Anti-Blackness'

A man stands in front of the iconic view of the Magic Castle. (Lexis-Olivier Ray for LAist)
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The theme of our 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.

So far, we've heard LAist audience members and a longtime colleague of ours describe L.A. as a "place of possibilities." We've heard about the resiliency and pride in ones's whole self developed despite the duality of code switching. We've also heard about the hope for a Black community's future despite the disappearance of Blacks in L.A. These stories have underscored hardships stemming from racism, but that hasn't been the prevailing theme.

Today, two LAist readers share feelings of overt, explicit bouts of discrimination, marginalization, isolation and racism.

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"I moved to Los Angeles back in 2008 from the East Coast. The one thing I can say about my experience here is that there's a slow burn of anti-Blackness felt in every aspect of life here.

"I feel that African Americans (in particular, Black males) don't get the benefit of the doubt for being a human being. Between the remnants of the gang era, the overt and disgraceful levels of Black poverty and homelessness and the lack of a centralized middle-class Black population, there's an immediate assumption of inferiority and fear aimed at the Black population.

"There's a thin veneer of liberalism laden with the pretense of fairness and equality, but this is reserved for every group of non-whites except African-Americans. I'm speaking as a man with two master's degrees and a successful career as a screenwriter. But when I'm out and about around town, white women clutch their purses, white people lock their car doors and arm their car alarms repeatedly in my presence. There's an immediate tension in the air without any evidence that I'm a threat other than the color of my skin.

"L.A. has a long way to go in addressing these issues because (compared to the East Coast) few out here tend to be honest about their biases and prejudices. As a result, nothing can or will change."

Brandon, Long Beach

"It is a constant state of feeling marginalized. The city is very segregated. There are many places in the city where you feel completely unwanted, from East L.A. to the Valley to the Westside to Beverly Hills and Bel Air. You are constantly being reminded that you are Black and different with a heavy emphasis on that idea of Blackness is equated with being dangerous or criminal. Being Black informs all that I do: driving, picking a place to live, going to school, getting a job. You feel as though you are an outsider or a minority among minorities. Your ethnicity is at the bottom of all ethnicities in Angelenos’ eyes."

Jessica, Glassell Park



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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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