Erasing Black Californians Is a Mistake

Kevin A. Thompson
November 3, 2023

Photo: Wedding photo of Charles and Willa Bruce, who founded the Bruce's Beach resort which was stolen from them by the city of Manhattan Beach, CA. Their descendants are now owners of the land and are receiving monthly rent payments from Los Angeles County.

Black Americans are under threat of erasure in California, so said Ms. Connie Alexander-Boitey, the president of the Santa Barbara NAACP. She was speaking at an event sponsored by Ethnic Media Services.

Ms. Alexander-Boitey described Santa Barbara as having a 2% Black population, (200-300 public school students) but being victims of most of the hate crimes in the community.

She described a pervasive use of Black students being called the n-word, at one time escalating to a group of Latino teens jumping on the neck of a Black middle-schooler boy and chanting “George Floyd!”

“The erasure of Black people in California is connected to one some ethnic group’s desire to be “more White-facing” and making another group (Black Californians) “not be here.”

California’s Black population has been declining for decades. Independent Black towns have been bulldozed in the name of “progress.”  Blacks among the California Indians have been written out of history, and I suspect, were the most common targets of anti-Indian genocide in the 1850s. Los Angeles is the least-Black of all the four largest U.S. cities (New York, Chicago, Houston, and L.A.).

Black people have been feeling less and less welcome in towns where they have lived for generations, and the White power structure watches with approval as newer arrivals push us out of residential areas.  The state prison system uses Black men and women to fight wildfires but won’t approve their entry into paid firefighting work after their release. 

From building the Spanish missions, to the Afro-Mexicans who founded Los Angeles, to migrant workers in the Central Valley,  to the armies of workers in defense-industries (I was one of those), and culture creators in Hollywood; Black Californians have helped build and stabilized California, literally preventing it from burning up.

The powers-that-be of all other ethnicities should remember that if they want to keep California thriving.


                                                                           STOP THE HATE  

Sources: “Bullying and the Erasure of Black Americans: School Bullying Mirrors Deeper Racial, Ethnic Fault Lines,” by Selen Ozturk, October 31, 2023,

                "History Made: Bruce's Beach Has Been Returned to Descendants of Black Family," by Rosana Xia, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2022.