In the early 1980s, African Americans made up nearly 50 percent of Oakland.
Today, African American’s make up only 26 percent of the population. Oakland’s new popularity has come with a steep price. The change occurring in the city is driving out long-established communities of color that built Oakland's history of community soul, public art, and political resistance over the past century. Those not driven out have their own story to tell; they have formed the largest tent cities you will find in the United States.
Oakland Here and Now was born with an overwhelming sense of urgency to 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 unique stories of individuals affected by Oakland’s rapidly changing landscape.
As Oakland neighborhoods have become less affordable, housing resources decreasing and buy-to-leave investors emptying neighborhoods, the city’s most vulnerable residents have been either pushed into homelessness or have moved to more affordable cities. These stories serve as a reminder that while there are many upsides to urban renewal, the negative repercussions of it are incredibly frightening.
We interviewed individuals that are trying to tackle and solve these persistent problems through small and large-scale projects that are attempting to unify communities, build homes for the homeless, or real estate agents that steer clients away from gentrifying certain neighborhoods, etc. Their stories give us hope that all Oakland-ers, regardless of race or class, will be able to remain in this city we love.
We invite you to explore the OHAN project and hope you’ll view the photos and watch the video clips that capture the spaces and people of Oakland, as they are, here and now.
Dena Lynne Shupe, Contributing Writer