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“What About Me”: The Unheard Voices of African American Men

 

Portrayed as celebrities, athletes, criminals, or victims of deadly police violence, marginalized and misrepresented, the deeper experience of African American men and their history in America will air Feb. 6-28 in the groundbreaking documentary “What About Me.” 

A first of its kind, the film grants the audience a look into the hearts and minds of African American men. The documentary features communities not shown on television: African American men who headed families, owned homes and built careers 

An assembly of Black leaders and professionals collaborated with 5J Entertainment to present an hour-long program expected to reach 70% of U.S. televisions throughout its February run. “What About Me,” intends to “foster engagement among Black men during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.”, says the film’s publicist Taroue Brooks.

Among the executive producers are Darryl Pitts, the documentary film producer; Brooks, the event planner/publicist; and D. John Jackson of 5J Entertainment. 

“It has been 1.5 years to create this documentary. This is a heavy subject matter that required collaboration,” Brooks wrote in an email. “We worked well as a team. We are brothers.”

The documentary provides a platform for African American men to voice their opinions on where they stand in society. To present this narrative, a range of men are featured in the film, including actor Marcus Scribner of ABC’s “Black-ish”; actor Timon Kyle Durrett of OWN’s “Queen Sugar”; actor Roshon Fegan of OWN’s “Greenleaf”; attorney Todd Belcore of Social Change; and Civil Rights Attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, The Warrior Lawyer.

“The selection process was based on our network and the unique perspectives that each man had to share,” Brooks wrote.

“What About Me,” aims to explore, learn and discuss the struggles and traumas of Black men as they face prejudice on a daily basis — from social existence to the job market. 

“It is extremely important for us to tell the stories and control our narratives of many rarely seen and untold stories of black men and boys,” Jackson said. 

In the trailer, emerging voiceover artist Eric Bell confronts the media’s bias in coverage. Oftentimes, the news portrays Black men as one of three types: entertainer, athlete or criminal. “What About Me,” includes a range of professionals, fathers and teens to extend the narrative and cover the stories the mass media missed. 

“This documentary looks to inspire, connect, and encourage black men to remain strong and seek out each other to bond and unleash their ideas, creativity, and wonderful talents,” Jackson said. “Oftentimes in America, we see a narrative from our media of young Black males that is all too unflattering. Their hopes, dreams, and aspirations have been muted — until now.”

"What About Me” acts as a catalyst for Black men to share their experiences while preparing a path for future young men to follow. 

“My hope is that the documentary will humanize black men. It is also important that we talk about the issues. Through communication we can change the narrative and encourage others,” Brooks wrote. “It is critical that we start speaking out about the positive things that black men do in everyday life.”

This timely documentary gives Black men who do not fit the mass-media-coverage mold a place to be in the spotlight. It works to show Black youth there is more to this community – there is greatness that needs to be recognized.

"The narrative that the media feeds us fueled me to want to create this documentary to share more of who we are as black men,” Brooks wrote. “The racism and police brutality is part of the culture, so the timing would always be appropriate to share more positive images of black men.”

Interested in hearing the unheard voices of African American men? Tune in to 5J Entertainment’s “What About Me,” beginning Feb. 6-28 to learn the experiences of Black men in America from a new perspective. 

 

Emma is a journalism and political science major at the University of Florida, minoring in Spanish. She has a passion for writing, exploring and learning. In her downtime, Emma enjoys lifting weights, listening to rock and planning her next trips.
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