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#DML2013- through the Eyes of an Entertainment Professional

#DML2013- through the Eyes of an Entertainment Professional

Written by Bryce Anderson-Small
April 05, 2013

Peace Digital Is community, from 21st Century Detroit!

I am BRYCE, a professional record producer, performing artist, and native Detroiter. Recently, I have transitioned from a career in pop music to serving youth and building sustainable communities through economic justice, expressed through entertainment media arts.

My entry into the world of popular education is via my youth media literacy organization- The HERU Organization, where we develop youth through media literacy and digital media arts skills training. Our mission is to help youth and young adults become radiant, self-actualizing individuals who can both effectively communicate their reality as well as authentically tell the stories of love, innovation, and sustainability around them.  These aspects of their lives are most often non-existent from corporate-owned media narratives, and so we believe that it is important that we construct counter narratives that capture the truth of who we really are. I help facilitate these kinds of interactions with media through multiple roles, as executive director of HERU and as one of the coordinators for Detroit Future Youth.

Three weeks ago, I travelled with some young adults from the Detroit Future Youth Network to the Digital Media Literacies Conference in Chicago.  Here, we (in collaboration with our sister network Detroit Future Schools) offered a session entitled “The Role of Youth Media in Transforming ‘Our Dying Cities”. In our participatory presentation, our young adults demonstrated how we use creative writing, performance, and digital technology to create meaningful conversations and media about self-identity and cultural heredity. Following our activity was a formal presentation from our Detroit Future Schools partners, on the framework of our greater Detroit Future network. We ended with a presentation of the resulting media piece from the session’s earlier self-identity exercise.

All went well and we were grateful to spread what we were doing to listening, attentive ears. Many seemed interested in our initiatives and expressed optimism and admiration for what we were doing; however, there were some tensions that I walked away with that seemed important to express.

While our experience at the conference was productive, my assumption going into the first day of DML2013 was that there would be more groups present like us and that young people would make up at least half of the panelists- being that they are the context for this conference’s conversation.  I soon discovered this was not the case. Surrounding us were primarily scholars, whose approaches presented as being more scientific and ‘top-down’, than social and encompassing the genuine needs of the populations they serve. While their perspectives were apparently contrast to my practices, the many conversations on civic engagement and participatory politics have produced many internal questions and dialogues.

Based on the fullness of my DML experience, the decision was then made to create a youth-collaborative entertainment project that would serve to share the points of my conference experience that were most-challenging and most-affirming, as well as benefit youth through a media skills-building opportunity.

We named this project “the Debrief,” a collaborative with 19 year-old hip hop beatmaker DJ Meftah, featuring 19 year-old Dakari Carter (pka Hi-Top Carter). In this collection of three Hip hop tracks, we are artistically presenting our critical perspectives on conversations that are taking place in a world where corporate foundations and prestigious academics meet (in private) to discuss our youth’s futures, and decide for them the roles they should have in it. Dialogues Welcomed.

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