Dear Friends and Supporters of LAFLA,
This Black History Month we honor, celebrate, and reflect for many reasons. Still in the throes of the worst pandemic in decades, we mourn the loss of our Black brothers and sisters who have disproportionately suffered from deaths, job losses, and health disparities because of COVID-19 and systemic racism. But there is also reason for hope, as our nation reckons with systemic racism in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We also celebrate historic change: the nation’s first Black and South Asian woman is now our vice president and the state of Georgia has its first Black U.S. senator. My great hope is that Black history is not reserved for one month of recognition — and that our society commemorates and celebrates Black history throughout the year, as we should.
LAFLA has always been committed to racial justice. Our clients primarily come from underserved communities of color who historically have never had a place at the table: a reality that persists today. Far too many Black community members experience lack of access to justice; one-third of LAFLA’s clients are Black. We can also see the far-reaching impacts of institutional racism in the statistics below:
- 34% of LA County’s unhoused residents are Black, despite comprising 8% of the county’s total population.
- Additionally, 29% of LA County’s jail population is Black, evidence of their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
- Nearly 85% of California’s Black labor force has filed for unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic last March, due to the pandemic’s toll on Black communities.
Across the breadth of LAFLA services, we work with the real people behind these figures: those whose lived experiences both inform and motivate our staff to do more, to do better. How can we bring about real, lasting, positive change? Black History Month 2021 is not a time to pause – but a time to collaborate, re-examine our history, and push for the future we want to see.
With deepest gratitude,
Silvia R. Argueta