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Who turned off the sun? And, Black communities in immigration conversations

Who turned off the sun? And, Black communities in immigration conversations

If you’re reading this, you survived the solar eclipse and didn’t burn your eyeballs staring directly at the sun unprotected. 🤞🏾😉

In case you missed it (but we hope you didn’t), each newsletter shares some of our recent reporting. This week, we’re highlighting a bridge program that aims to reunite LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness with their families, overcrowded hospitals that cause delays in care for patients, and CourtWatch LA, a grassroots initiative that organizes volunteers to report on judges' courtroom conduct to document misbehavior and unfair treatment.

Our featured story discusses immigration as a “Black issue.” Black immigrants are an integral part of L.A., but the community is often left out of the immigration conversation.  

Now, on with our regularly scheduled programming.

Best, Robbi


(Illustration by Hal Marie Saga)

Los Angeles is one of the fastest-growing populations of Black immigrants. According to Pew Research Center, 1 in 10 Black Americans are immigrants. There is a constant battle for racial justice as anti-Black racism creates very real consequences for both Black Americans and Black immigrants. 

With differences in immigration, housing, and health, anti-Black racism has very serious repercussions for Black immigrants and Americans. In the fight for racial justice, immigration also needs to be part of the conversation.

“Immigration is a Black issue.”

Haddy Gassama, director of policy and advocacy at UndocuBlack

UndocuBlack Network works to “create space for currently and formerly undocumented Black immigrants” and to remind us that “immigration is a Black issue.”

Haddy Gassama emigrated from Gambia to the U.S. at age 8. Today, she’s the director of policy and advocacy at UndocuBlack. She said her advocacy is driven by a deeply personal  belief that “people should have the right to move [freely], to seek safety, and refuge.” It is imperative to understand how anti-Black racism is directly related to violence and harm against Black immigrant communities.

UndocuBlack reported more than 76% of Black immigrants faced deportation following interactions with police. American Friends Service Committee found that Black immigrants face the lengthiest ICE detentions and are faced with bond amounts double or triple the amount of than other immigrants. 

The end goal is to get the Congressional Black Caucus on board and take ownership of immigration as a Black issue, especially given the growing Black immigrant population in the country.

“I think the leadership of that caucus [needs] to recognize that immigration is very much a Black issue in the same way that voting rights is,” said Gassama. “In the same way that any form of criminal justice reform is, the issues are so interlinked.” 


Here’s what we’ve been up to, in a note from our executive director Dana Amihere.

Intrepid interns

Cal State Dominguez Hills journalism students Robbi Gallegos and Kimberly Resendiz are now a few months into their internship. Below, they share insights about their experience so far with AfroLA. (We didn’t bribe them to say nice things…they just did.)

“Working as a social media intern at AfroLA has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I feel a sense of fulfillment being able to contribute to AfroLA’s mission. In addition to highlighting the amazing work of the authors, I also get to produce work that helps the local community members access information and have their voices heard.  

“The skills and insights I have gained from working with AfroLA, including crafting engaging social media content, understanding community-focused journalism, and navigating digital storytelling, will undoubtedly be instrumental in my future career endeavors. I am excited to carry forward these lessons as I pursue my aspirations in the field of communications and digital media.”  

— Robbi Gallegos  


“Working at AfroLA has been a great experience so far. I've been working on a sustainable fashion project that comes with two stories, photo essays and a video. I’ve learning new things and applying them as I go. I've been able to grow and slowly build up confidence while working at AfroLA.“

— Kimberly Resendiz

If you (or someone you know) is interested in interning with AfroLA, please email [email protected] for more information. Gain experience, sharpen your skills and collaborate with a dynamic team passionate about making an impact on the Black communities of Los Angeles. We are always on the lookout for new talent!

Make sure to follow their work and give the upcoming generation of journalists your support! 

Update: Local News Blues

Local News Blues gave me the opportunity to pull back the curtain on the struggles of being a local news organization. I wrote an article on how I was feeling on “the day we all dread as local news publishers." (Full disclosure: I wrote this from a place of anger, pain and frustration. It’s raw and brutally honest.)

I’m a little less blue, now. I wasn’t prepared for the outpouring of emotional and emotional support after posting the article and a note on LinkedIn.

The post has nearly 4,000 impressions and counting. (For someone who loathes social media and only uses it for work, this is a big deal.) What happened next brought me to tears. People stepped up for us in a HUGE way. From March 3, when the article was published through April 15, nearly $2,200 in donations came in. Half of the contributors in that period were folks who’d never donated to AfroLA before. Those new supporters in addition to recurring monthly donations has really made a big difference. It helped me get us back in the black and catch up on past due payroll.

I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every person who contributed. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

Read about the results of our 2023 NewsMatch campaign below.


The final tally for our 2023 NewsMatch drive is in. For the unfamiliar, NewsMatch is a national 1:1 matching campaign from the Fund for Nonprofit News at The Miami Foundation. We raised $10,220 in donations made from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. 💸💸💸 

Our news is free, but journalism isn’t. Your donations contribute to fairly compensating the journalists, editors, freelancers, community contributors, and staff that make our journalism happen.

More than 30 donors made contributions, and five new people joined as sustaining members with recurring donations, from $5 to $50 a month. We’re grateful for everyone who was able to make a contribution, no matter what the amount. It means even more when you give what you can when you don’t have a lot to spare. A HUGE thank you to every person who donated. Please know that you’re supporting a worthwhile endeavor.

But, on the road to sustainability we need to establish more recurring support. We gained six new monthly donors during NewsMatch, but we have to keep pushing. Our next goal is to bring on 20 new sustaining members who give monthly. (More on that effort soon.)

Support our journalism promoo
Screenshot of donation platform


(Illustration by Hal Marie Saga)

ER wait times in Los Angeles County are unbelievably long. EMT Adrian Galvan transported a patient who complained of dyspnea (shortness of breath) and COVID-19 symptoms and had to wait more than nine hours for a hospital bed. Overcrowded hospitals can cause delays that force EMTs to sit with their patients in ambulances. Delays in care can result in serious injury, or even death, for patients.

South Los Angeles residents, predominantly Black and Latine, are disproportionately impacted by long Ambulance Patient Offload Times (APOT). This is the time between a patient’s arrival outside emergency department doors, where they’ll be unloaded, and the time that patient is transferred to the emergency department.

“A closure of an emergency department in an area doesn’t mean that everyone in the area stops having heart attacks or strokes, or cutting their fingers off. It means that they will be transported to the next emergency department, which may be more crowded because now, it sees patients from two areas instead of one.”

— Renee Hsia, vice chair for health services research at the UCSF emergency services department. 

Staffing and resource shortages, hospital overcrowding, and time “holding the wall” for emergency department beds are seen more often in predominantly Black and Latine communities.


(Illustration by Hal Saga, photos via Ethan Ward and iStock)

Reporter Ethan Ward shares his personal account of growing up in the church environment where being gay was absolutely condemned. After he graduated high school, Ward left home and suddenly found himself homeless for the first time, but not the last.

Black LGBTQ+ youth have the highest rates of homelessness, according to researchers at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, as they face challenges from both their families and congregations.

The Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS) pilot bridge program aims to reunite homeless queer youth with their families as they work with local faith leaders in South Los Angeles. The bridge program provides reconciliation and healing for the youth, their families, and church communities. 


(Illustration by Hal Marie Saga)

CourtWatch LA, operated by decarceration nonprofit La Defensa, organizes volunteers to observe Los Angeles County Superior Court proceedings, to hold judges. Volunteers, including law students and formerly incarcerated individuals, take notes on quorum activities to highlight potential misconduct and biases. Staff members at La Defensa analyze reports to find trends in judges' conduct. Volunteers’ observations are foundational to the La Defensa’s Rate My Judge platform.

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