All were positive influences.
They were also men who might not ordinarily be seen in the media.
So Brooks, who lives in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., decided to do something about that void.
“What About Me,” an hourlong documentary hopes to open the door to more conversations about what Black success looks like.
“Basically, I got tired of the limited imagery of Black men in America,” said Brooks, one of the project’s three executive producers. “They were either entertainers, athletes or criminals, if you watch the news. We’re so much more than that. I wanted to hear what Black men had to say. I wanted to humanize us.”
According to a trailer, the film examines Black men who, for generations, have been the foundation of families and communities but rarely seen in the media.
Brooks, an events planner, publicist and lifestyle architect, worked with friends and partners D. John Jackson and Darryl Pitts on the project. The three financed it on their own.
Among those featured in the film include actor Timon Kyle Durrett of OWN’s “Queen Sugar”; civil rights attorney J. Wyndal Gordon; and Trey Causey, a 20-year-old Morehouse College student.
“Athletes and entertainers aren’t negative,” Brooks said. “However, it is a very small part of our community. It is necessary for others to see Black men in a much more accurate lens. Black men are postal workers, educators, civil workers, etc. These same men are present with their families. They are loving and impact the community.”
The film was recently picked up by Amazon Prime Video and is streaming through March.
Causey, a native of New Orleans, and a philosophy major with a minor in economics and French, was among those who shared their stories.
He was fortunate.
Along the way, Causey who is on the dean’s list at Morehouse, had mentors who lent an ear and offered advice whenever needed.
“My story is repeated across many Black communities in America,” said Causey. “It involved a good bit of stubbornness, steadfastness and the ability to go forth in spite of adverse situations.”
He said when got to high school all his teachers were Black males and “that influenced me that ‘hey, this is possible’. My chemistry teacher was also a litigator, highlighting the nuances and different paths that one can take in their lives.”
He points to the election of former President Barack Obama as one of the success stories in recent years.
“You see Black men as CEOs of these massive corporations,” he said. “I saw people who looked like me doing well for themselves and their communities at multiple levels of society.”
WHERE TO WATCH
“What About Me,” streaming through March on Amazon Prime Video