Race In LA

How does your race and/or ethnicity shape your life and experiences? We want to hear your stories.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Race In LA main illustration

Race In LA

How does your race and/or ethnicity shape your life and experiences? We want to hear your stories.

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SERIES ESSAYS

‘We Don’t Hire Colored Girls’: After A Job Rejection In 1956, A Young LA Telephone Operator Began Kicking Down Doors
Shirlee Smith
She'd been hired over the phone. All was well until she walked in her first day on the job, and her new employer saw she was Black. Here's how the experience shaped her life.
Published: Aug. 7, 2020
‘Dear Racist’: How Rage-Writing Turned To Rage-Drawing For An Artist Who's Fed Up With Anti-Asian Hate
Tracy Park
I began writing this illustrated letter as a way to shed my fear of the person who racially insulted my children. By the end, I remembered that racists are the ones who are truly afraid.
Published: July 31, 2020
Brown and Blue: A Mexican American Police Family Tries To Reconcile ‘Who We Once Were, Who We Now Are, And Who We Want To Be’
Catalina Lara
She and her husband grew up in a neighborhood where they and their peers were the ones profiled by white LAPD officers. His response was to join the force, to represent his community. Now, decades later they find themselves navigating some difficult conversations.
Published: July 24, 2020
An Education In Becoming Whole Again: How My College Experience Taught Me To Love My Blackness
Brandi Tanille Carter
She apprehensively left her home Los Angeles to go to a college she had never seen in a state she'd never visited. But it's here she learned to embrace her Blackness, and it's this experience which allowed her to return home to L.A. empowered.
Published: July 17, 2020
My Life In Public Spaces: How My Race Colors The Way In Which The World Reacts To Me
Caroline Rhude
My interactions with race are valuable, and I'm reminded that they require serious reflection and mindful application. Not only in my personal experiences, but also in relation to other minority groups.
Published: July 10, 2020
What It Really Means To Amplify Black Voices
Austin Cross
When the voice of Black America is too loud for any newsroom to ignore, Take Two producer Austin Cross explains what it means to truly amplify Black voices.
Published: July 6, 2020
Raising a Black Boy in America When You’re Neither Black Nor American
Darren Fung
Earlier than expected, my wife and I had to give my 6-year-old son “the talk” about what it means to be Black in America. Except I’m neither Black nor American.
Published: July 3, 2020
On Life As A Freckle-Faced, Redheaded, Mexican American From Southeast Los Angeles
Erick Galindo
Sometimes I feel the weight of being judged as a person of color. Other times I feel awkward being seen as the only white guy in the room. It is through this murky fog that I have fought to carve out my own American identity.
Published: June 26, 2020
Lessons Learned While Being Black: 'I Never Live Above Scrutiny'
Eric Craig
For some, racism has resulted in obscene and life-threatening actions. For me, it's been a never-ending journey of internalizing microaggressions and trying to live above them.
Published: June 19, 2020
The Hidden Cost Of Inherited Blackness
Austin Cross
It's the inheritance I never wanted, but also kind of need every day. It was delivered in pieces over the course of 30 years with no receipt. What can I say? Thanks. I hate it.
Published: June 12, 2020
Jogging While Black: I Tried Everything To Look Less Threatening, And 'Still They Crossed The Street’
Cheryl Farrell
She enjoyed her morning jogs along the tree-lined streets. Until she noticed people avoiding her.
Published: June 12, 2020
Conflicted: A Black Journalist's Reckoning With Her Race, Family And Police Brutality
Dana Amihere
LAist Data Editor struggles to find peace within her personal divisions — as a black woman, journalist and wife of a white man — following the past few months of police brutality and protests.
Published: June 5, 2020
Black And Tired In This American Newsroom
Austin Cross
I covered unarmed killings: etched in my mind are names like Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, and Philando Castile. After each incident, I diligently worked with a sense of purpose.

Then came George Floyd.

I think it broke me.
Published: June 1, 2020

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HOW TO PARTICIPATE

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ABOUT RACE IN LA

The conversation started around a table here last summer. And it's more relevant now than ever.

On a Monday morning, August 5, two days after a mass shooter in El Paso went gunning for Latinos at the local Walmart, KPCC and LAist staffers gathered around the big newsroom table where we usually talk about stories, to vent, grieve, and try to wrap our heads around what had just happened.

As we talked, and some of us cried, many of us began sharing personal stories about how our skin, face, surname, perceived national origin — any and all of these — have factored into our lived experience.

A Latina producer with dark skin talked about the time a store employee treated her like she could not afford to pay her bill; a Latina reporter with light skin talked about the anti-Latino slurs she has heard when people are unaware of her ethnicity.

It was an emotional conversation — and now, we're having it again as we once more try to wrap our heads around the senseless death of a black man at the hands of police. Another. Again.

So we are grieving again as our community, and the nation as a whole, faces a reckoning. It's a reckoning sparked not just by the shocking killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, but by an ongoing catalog of abuses suffered by people of color in this country. The protests are fueled by centuries of racism and institutional violence that is disproportionately directed at black Americans.

We know that racism is pervasive. We also know that even in L.A. — diverse on the whole, but still very segregated in reality — it happens every day, casually and overtly. And we know the media bears responsibility for failing to speak more forcefully about this injustice.

Here is how Austin Cross explained it in an essay he wrote about coming to the realization that as a black man he had no way to escape racism:

"For so long, I wanted, needed, to think that there was something I could do to be safe in the world. There wasn't. There never was, really."

In hearing the raw emotion of colleagues willing to share stories about being profiled; about being put in a racial or ethnic box; about feeling unsafe, daily; about never being "enough" of an American; about privilege and discomfort, we realized there was more we could do to make sure those voices are heard. Our job is not to lose focus on this. We are asking for your help, both in joining the conversation and holding us accountable to keep it going.

Over the next several months, we're hoping to hear your stories about how race and ethnicity shape your life and, hopefully, publish as many of these stories as we can, so that we can all keep on talking. Because we have to.

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