Don't Miss 'Meeting David Wilson' on MSNBC PDF Print E-mail
By Natalie Wilson-Black College Wire   

One of the most unique challenges that Black people in America face is finding a true sense of ethnic identity that speaks to the double consciousness of what makes one African and American. The process of understanding the social experience of Black people in America has 28 year-old David Wilson on a quest to discover the true meaning of the term “African American.”

David Wilson
In the film “Meeting David Wilson” directed by David A. Wilson and Daniel J. Woolsey, Wilson discusses growing up in a ghetto of Newark, N.J., and realizing that he didn’t want to become a product of his environment. It premieres April 11 at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

Out of a sincere desire to find something more, he begins to research his family’s ancestry. From his research he finds that not only was he just three generations away from being a slave, but that the slaves in his family were owned by the prestigious Wilson family who operated tobacco plantations from North Carolina to Virginia.

However, the most empowering information comes when David Wilson learns of a descendant of the Wilson family --  also named David Wilson -- and decides to meet him as part of his journey toward self-discovery.

"Meeting David Wilson" is an innovative film because it gives the viewer a unique perspective on race. It doesn’t simply show how slavery has in many ways complicated the black identity in America, but it also sheds light on how it has affected white Americans as well. When David Wilson makes the trip to North Carolina, he goes to the tobacco plantation of his ancestors and makes a commitment to work a full day. He vividly describes the intense physical pain of simply working just a few hours in the field whereas for his ancestors that was their daily lives. After having a first-hand account of what his ancestors experienced, Wilson expresses being angry that America and particularly the Wilsons, who owned his family, significantly benefited from free labor.

There are several issues of Black identity that the film addresses, but what really gives the film its flavor and color is that it’s not afraid to ask the bold questions. When David Wilson of New Jersey meets the 62-year old entrepreneur David Wilson, he asks him whether or not he agrees with how his ancestors achieved their legacy and even brings up the issue of reparations. While some moments seemed tense, the film ultimately was about receiving closure. It provided an empowering and perhaps unexpected message.

"Meeting David Wilson" is highly recommended for all African Americans, but especially for Black youth. Often media play a large role in attempting to shape and define what "black" is, and most commonly it’s negative stereotypes which in turn affect the psyche of Black youth.

"Meeting David Wilson" leaves the message that there is a much bigger definition to who we are both as African and American, and that ultimately finding a true sense of self begins with healing and reconciliation.

Following the film, there will be a live discussion on race moderated by Brian Williams.




Posted Apr. 07, 2008
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