For one award-winning Black L.A. author, light skin was no refuge from the struggle to publish a book.
Hallee Fowler’s mother was a dark-skinned Indian who had given up her job as a domestic and moved from the Southeast section of L.A. to the Westside. For the first time in her life, Hallee was reading the books her parents had read to her. She was discovering that, unlike her white mother, she had a world of people who wanted to see her succeed.
In a long life spent in a predominantly black community, Hallee Fowler found the courage to speak about the struggles of young black women in the city she called home. For her, the books of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are what inspired the journey of her own story—and it is that journey, she says, that will always be a journey.
In the 1970s, as a young journalist for The Californian, Hallee Fowler was sent to cover some of the most high-profile cases of black women in public service in L.A. This experience, she says, taught her a lot about discrimination, and, more important, about the lack of opportunity and the importance of building one’s own success.
“As you got older, you realized that you’re not in control of who is going to be your boss. The choices they made were usually based on a stereotype: the guy, the white guy, the white guy. They said the guy is the boss. You had to find another way, and you had to find a way to make yourself a boss.”
It was a time when racial tensions were increasing. The South and the West were beginning to feel the impact of the civil rights movement. Hallee, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Malcolm X, remembers growing up and feeling like she was never really safe. She remembers her mother telling her that if she ever stepped out of line, she would come to get her. In the world that she found herself in, she did not feel safe.
Hallee Fowler’s parents were part of the generation that came of age when L.A. was a hotbed of resistance. They had been the first to move to the Westside when the black population moved out after World War II to find work. They were the first to buy land away from white homeowners who had bought it for their