My Black LA is a community-generated archive project highlighting works by African-American artists, writers, and creators, who document the vibrant culture and history of the Black Angeleno experience. Photographer Alexis Hunley shares her experiences documenting life in LA’s Black neighborhoods.
My neighbors look like me, and I have never felt so at ease. I grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods, attended predominantly white schools, and something was always missing, but I was never able to put it in words. It wasn’t until I moved back to Los Angeles in 2008 that it really hit me.
I needed Black people.
It’s as if I had been holding my breath for 14 years, tip-toeing my way through the minefields that are white schools, white neighborhoods, white friendships, white spaces. Walking down Crenshaw Boulevard is like a breath of fresh air. Seeing Black kids on skateboards, watching Black parents push Black babies in strollers, waving to Black neighbors in the grocery store.
This is what was missing.
But how long will it last?
In the 12 years I’ve been back home, there has been a significant influx of white Angelenos “discovering” Black neighborhoods. It is terrifying and infuriating. I’ve finally discovered a space where I feel seen and yet, I can feel it slipping through my fingers. Documenting the people that make Black neighborhoods the culturally rich places that they are, is so incredibly important. We don’t know what the future holds or how these spaces will look in the near — or distant — future. The people are the neighborhood. They give Inglewood, View Park, Leimert Park, Ladera Heights, Hyde Park, Compton, Watts, and so many other spaces, the cultural and vibrancy that make them remarkable.