In the East Bay, media representations of young Black men are often limited to newspaper stories and television reports about crime — and thus frequently perpetuate stereotypes that can encourage harmful societal prejudices and racial profiling. Oakland-based advocacy groups United Roots and Urban Peace Movement are working to shift that narrative — and they are paying young Black men to lead the way. In 2012, the two nonprofits launched DetermiNation Media Group, an initiative aimed at training young men of color in media production and giving them opportunities to produce short films, music, and graphic designs. In addition to providing program stipends, DetermiNation has helped the participants — so far more than 50 young men, ages 17 to 24 — find paid work creating media for social justice campaigns and public service announcements. Last year, the group's "#DeterminedTo" poster series on bus stops throughout the Oakland provided positive images of Black men to counter mainstream media narratives. And a new DetermiNation cohort is now working on an anti-domestic violence campaign. The impact of the program is huge — young men are not only empowered with technical media skills and job opportunities, they also find a platform to use their voices in a meaningful way.
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