In the early 1980s, African Americans made up nearly 50 percent of Oakland. 

Today, African Americans make up only 24 percent of the population. If current trends continue, their numbers could plummet to a mere 18 percent by 2030. Oakland’s new popularity, fueled by the advent of a booming tech sector, has come with a steep price. Young white and Asian newcomers, more highly skilled and affluent than existing residents, are pushing out the city’s long-established African American populace, a vibrant community tracing back to the 1940s that played a significant role in building Oakland’s rich history and defining the national black identity. Many of the paramount political struggles, artistic movements, and intellectual innovations of the 20th century trace back to black Oakland. 

Rental rates and home prices have skyrocketed as new residents compete for scarce housing, leading to a spike in evictions of mostly low-income African American and Latino residents. The shortage of affordable housing units, cuts to housing assistance programs, and stagnant wages create a perfect storm for this devastating demographic shift.

Displaced black Oaklanders are moving to more affordable cities located in the outer Bay Area region. Others are relocating out of the Bay Area altogether: an estimated 22,000 African Americans left the Bay Area from 2000-2014. Some of those pushed out of their homes have stood their ground, helping to form one of the largest tent cities you will find in the United States.  

A Changing Oakland was born with an overwhelming sense of urgency to explore and tell the stories of the city's unique and diverse people before they are gone forever.

Director and photo-historian Bryan Wiley and his crew have committed themselves to boots-on-the-ground research: walking the streets, visiting homeless camps, talking to artists, and witnessing Oakland’s environment first hand. He has photographed Oakland’s sacred spaces and famous street art and documented compelling stories of individuals affected by Oakland’s rapidly changing landscape. These accounts serve as a reminder that the upsides to urban renewal come with the shadow of massive population displacement and the permanent loss of culturally rich history.

We interviewed community members who are tackling these problems through projects that attempt to unify and strengthen communities – from a builder who constructs shelters for homeless people, to the real estate agent who steers clients away from gentrifying vulnerable neighborhoods. 

We invite you to explore A Changing Oakland project and view the photos and watch the video clips that capture the spaces and people of Oakland.

Dena Lynne Shupe, Contributing Writer

Angela Rowen, Contributing Writer



Bryan Wiley - Director / Producer / Photographer

Born in Philadelphia, Bryan grew up in a household filled with music and art. At San Francisco State, he developed an interest in photojournalism. His first renowned project, “In Search of African Continuum; Sacred Ceremonies and Rituals,” focused on sacred ceremonies and rituals rooted in West Africa and spread throughout the Diaspora. His uncanny ability to find his way into the cultural inner circle allows viewers an “up close and personal” look at people in their natural settings.

Bryan also worked as a stills photographer on the feature film documentary, “Crips and Bloods: Made in America.” The compelling story by director Stacy Peralta examines the conditions of devastating gang violence among young African Americans growing up in South Los Angeles.

His work has been featured in Ebony Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, Agence France-Presse and was a photo editor at Black Issues In Higher Education and the Children’s Defense Fund magazines. Bryan lived in Oakland for 9 years and mentors youth on the autism spectrum.


Jason Blalock - Director of Photography

Jason works as a director, producer, cinematographer and editor on a variety of non-fiction and documentary projects. In 2007, he completed the documentary filmmaking program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

As a cinematographer, he filmed documentary series for Al Jazeera, HBO, PBS, TLC, MTV, NatGeo, Discovery, and Vice. He specializes in ‘one man band’ filmmaking, handling both video and audio in run-and-gun situations. His own films focus on unique personal stories captured through observational documentary style. 

In 2017, his documentary In the Wake of Ghost Ship, about America’s eviction crisis, won the Golden Gate prize for Best Short Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Jason currently lives in Oakland, CA.


Wendi Jonassen - Video Editor

A transplant to Oakland, originally from Atlanta, Wendi wears her southern background as a badge of honor. An experienced video editor with a master’s at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Her freelance client list includes – National Geographic, the New York Times, and KQED.

Wendi held positions at AJ+, Al Jazeera’s social media digital platform, and Fusion, which merged with Gizmodo Media Group, shaping their voice, aesthetics, and workflow. She currently holds a video producer position on WIRED’s video team.

In her spare time, she loves to hike, cook huge meals for family and friends, and take her pooch to the beach for a long game of fetch.


Miguel A. Osorio - Associate Producer / Designer

A true East Bay creative talent. This visual artist has over 20 years of industry experience working with top agencies and design studios in San Francisco and throughout the East Bay as a graphic designer, video editor, and content producer. Miguel facilitated a TV pilot for Kontent Films which featured George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars as well as serving as the production photographer.

From 2005 to 2007 Miguel was a Senior Designer and the Lead Illustrator of the creative team that rebranded Film Independent, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards. He worked closely with the Creative Director of RKO Pictures to rebrand the historic film studio and their horror division, the Roseblood Movie Company. He has roots in Oakland as resident and musician for 20 years and currently lives in Richmond, Ca.



A Changing Oakland Production Stills



Contributing Writer - Dena Lynne Shupe
Contributing Writer - Angela Rowen
Photo Assistant - Carlos Navarro
Production Assistant - Tearsa Hammock
Project Consultant - Lloyd Francis
Video Transcriber - Kiran Melnyk
Video Transcriber - Ellen Westberg
Web Developer - Miranda Koenig