Blog Entry Narrative Change, Capacity Building, Civic Participation

MyBlackStory.us: MILWAUKEE

In an effort to champion the positive efforts and impact of Milwaukee’s Black leaders, organizers and community members, local firm Render and the Campaign For Black Male Achievement (CBMA) today launched the new interactive site, MyBlackStory.us. Using multi-media to highlight advocates, policymakers and everyday people working to positively transform the city on behalf of its most underserved communities, the platform aims to provide a more positive and nuanced alternative to how Black Milwaukeeans are portrayed in the news and other media, particularly Black males.

Through video, memes and infographics, MyBlackStory.us will showcase the myriad ways that Milwaukee leaders, activists and artists are making positive contributions to their city, and use storytelling to challenge negative narratives often ascribed to Milwaukee's communities of color. The first leader featured by the platform is Jeff Roman, Human Rights Director for the City of Milwaukee, and a nationally recognized Black Male Achievement expert.

"Milwaukee is a hidden treasure with so many positive leaders who deserve recognition, which is why we're excited to help amplify the voices of some our favorite leaders in the country," said Rashid Shabazz, CBMA’s Vice President for Communications. “MyBlackStory.us continues the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s Black Male Re-Imagined programming and investments that are focused on helping to shift the existing narrative from a primary focus on the negative perceptions of black men and boys, and to challenge both the explicit and implicit biases being perpetuated by mainstream media that fails to see black people in their full humanity and diversity.”

The video and creative content featured on MyBlackStory.us are created by Render, a digital storytelling firm founded by local activist and artist, Dr. Rob Biko Baker. The platform’s launch comes just weeks after the acquittal of Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown in the death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith.

“Last summer, following the murder of Sylville Smith, CBMA (in partnership with Milwaukee organizers) began working to find new ways to share and tell stories about the efforts of local leaders working to strengthen and support their community, said Dr. Baker. “As a father, a son and long-time advocate here in Milwaukee, I wanted to bring my own expertise as a digital story teller to help broaden the narratives about black men and boys in our city.”

Over the next several weeks, MyBlackStory.us will continue highlighting the stories of Milwaukee leaders who’ve had a demonstrated impact on the city and community, including Kwabena Nixon, Monique Liston, Reggie Moore, Destiny Manuel, and rapper/activist Ray Nitti.

“Too often the stories we hear about our communities are filtered through the lens of police reports that mischaracterize Black people, and continue to drive the unjust killings of Black men by police, whether it is Sylville Smith in Milwaukee or Philando Castile in Minneapolis,” Dr. Baker continued. “We hope this project will be a catalyst to begin reclaiming the narrative about ourselves and our communities.”

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