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Made of L.A.
Graphical representation of a drum circle in Leimert Park
(Dan Carino
The 8 Percent
Part of the Race In LA series, The 8 Percent explores the inextricable ties between L.A. and its Black residents - how Black migration, community and culture have shaped and changed L.A.

We began publishing essays on LAist from crowdsourced community contributors and LAist staffers, as part of Race In LA in June 2020. We've been humbled by the range of lived experiences and backgrounds that make Los Angeles so vibrant. Yet, within all that diversity there are shared stories of anger, pain, hurt and sadness resulting from overt and more subtle racism.

Nevertheless, there have also been stories centered around strength, beauty and pride: learning to love oneself and one's culture, even when the world doesn't; celebrating one's heritage and homeland; finding a place to belong and thrive in the face of discrimination and adversity.


So we're going deeper, and we're starting with the Black community, the 8%. Los Angeles city's population is about 8% Black (8.4%, if you wanna be exact, according to the most recent census estimates). When we say L.A. is Black and Brown, we sometimes focus on the overwhelming majority that is Brown. We relegate the idea of a "Black L.A." to geography, like the so-called Black Beverly Hills or Leimert Park or melanated South L.A. strongholds like Inglewood or Compton (I mean, just sing the lyrics of Tupac's "California Love" in your head).

So, we introduce The 8 Percent, a new project from KPCC + LAist that's an extension of the Race In LA series. The 8 Percent explores the inextricable ties between L.A. and its Black residents - how Black migration, community and culture have shaped and changed L.A.

We began planning this project in 2019, and published Part 1, LA to L.A., last year on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in New Orleans. But this project is even more relevant and poignant as society grapples with this moment of racial reckoning. In the coming months, we'll be releasing new installments - videos, oral histories and more. Their content will vary but they will all be guided by one overarching idea: You can't tell the story of Los Angeles without telling the story of Black people.

This project, heavily multimedia and immersive, is intended to be unlike many others in which a particular community's story is told by journalists. Our intent is to tell the story of Black people, in their words, in their voice — unfiltered. We are messengers, amplifying voices that deserve to be heard, not interpreters who get to frame the narrative. We're committed to letting the people who are willing to invite us into their lives and homes do so on their terms. We will not rewrite their history, their family stories or their lived experiences through our journalistic pen or public media's highly criticized white lens.

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Black Voices From Race In LA
In June 2020, we began publishing your stories each week to continue important conversations about race/ethnicity, identity and how both affect our lived experiences. (We'll continue doing so until summer 2021.) Since the series launched, other projects have been added to the Race In LA ecosystem. We’ve also collaborated with our newsroom's events team on Unheard LA: A Deeper Listen, following the killing of George Floyd.
LAist Asks: On Being Black In LA
We gathered stories and voices on, "What it means to be Black in L.A.?" Whether you’ve lived here a short time or you were born in L.A., we wanted to hear from you. Here's what community and staff members told us.