Eric Brown is an author, community leader in the Mayor’s office and advocate. He recently created an amazing book project titled, Weekend Reflections. This was a project 5 years in the making and based on writings he would share via Facebook around his journey as a Black man, husband, father and community leader. Eric’s Nashville is one of community first and it was so cool to hear his true authenticity around his city and the people who continue to help him live intentionally.
What are you currently creating?
I just finished my book Weekend Reflections. A topic that comes out of that book is Black male vulnerability. It’s really about being okay with the man you’re supposed to be but also growing into being okay with expressing who you are and how you feel. I think Black men tend to have this survivalist instinct where we’re always thinking about survival of the fittest. The book is more of a conversation starter to being open with ourselves. I think this discussion can make us better husbands, better men in our community, and in Nashville as a whole.
How did you go about writing Weekend Reflections?
It actually started off as me grappling with that question of how to grow and become a better person. I think most people when they meet me will say that I am very serious and don’t really show much, and that was probably true.
As I sat in the hospital, I thought about if I died, what contribution would I leave in the world.
Thinking about this, I started to think about new ways to grow. I did what I call a public diary. I wrote my thoughts and emotions, whatever they were, in a Facebook post, which is not at all a private space. It was an accountability piece for me and my way of saying “Eric, whatever you write is out there and you have to live by what you say.” I started writing in 2015. Around 2017, I wanted to turn the ideas I was sharing into a book. As I was starting the process, life took a turn. I lost a job that I thought I wanted to enter as my profession. After that, things started to change very quickly. I moved to Memphis temporarily and then came back to Nashville. In 2020, I became very ill and was in the hospital for 5 days. It was near-fatal. As I sat in the hospital, I thought about if I died, what contribution would I leave in the world. At that moment, I decided on 2 things: I wanted to get healthy and I wanted to finish the book. I completed the book one month later.
As you reflect back, do you feel that your Nashville roots played a role in your writing?
I think anything that receives notoriety or pushed forward is because of the community you are a part of. With me being a Nashville native, the local network here is special. We always hear a lot about how collaborative we are in Nashville. I know this sentiment doesn’t always ring true, but from my standpoint, it does. The community will always show light into who you are. This book would have been very different if I wrote it in any other city. Nashville is a transient city. Most people that are here now are not necessarily from Nashville, but that also makes the city special. The people who are natives form a community. My family is not really concentrated in Nashville, but that also adds a different perspective to my writing. I had to be honest and vulnerable with myself and allow myself to be open to the stories of others.
Loved to see how intentional you were in working with local businesses and creatives to be a part of your book project. Tell us about that?
I think it goes back to the overall theme “it takes a village”. We have to realize that it is our responsibility to use our village.
I have known Will at The Local Distro for a long time. Our first time meeting was actually while volunteering at Riverbend National Security Prison. We would go in to teach and facilitate classes and formed a special bond because of that experience. That experience kind of goes back to the village mentality. Like they say in Paid In Full, “everybody eats.”
You don’t always have to go outside to find the right people. The right people are often here in the community and you just have to figure out what role they’ll play. With Xpayne, I think that was just pure luck for me. XPayne has worked with people like Spike Lee and tons of different celebrities. It just so happened that he is based here in Nashville. He really resonated with the vision and wanted to be a part of it. It was great that he was here and we were just able to talk and bond about being Black men and our roles in the community and family unit. Our sisters are also involved in the book as well, which I talk about in the book itself. It was just important for me to reach within the community for help and the community is now leaning in for me.
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.