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On MSNBC Now: "Meeting David Wilson"

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posted on Apr, 11 2008 @ 09:09 PM

Meeting David Wilson is a feature length documentary about the enduring legacy of slavery in today’s young black society.

David Wilson, a 28-year-old African-American journalist, journeys into his family’s past to find answers to America’s racial divide. Along the way he meets another David Wilson, the descendant of his family’s slave master. This discovery leads to a momentous encounter between these two men of the same name but whose ancestors were on the opposite sides of freedom. Through DNA testing, David determines his African roots and returns to his native land.
Meeting David Wilson

David Wilson was a 28-year-old African-American man from Newark, New Jersey. He grew up in a tough, urban neighborhood, but managed to navigate his way out of poverty and into the world of news production in New York City. Now, meet another David Wilson: a 62-year-old white man from rural North Carolina. He grew up in Caswell County, where his ancestors once farmed tobacco. He now operates a small chain of BBQ restaurants in nearby Reidsville. Although they have never met, the two men share more than just a name...
MSNBC: Man tracks family's past in slavery

It's on now, and it comes on again at midnight.

'A Conversation about Race (with Brian Williams)' comes on at 10 30pm.

posted on Apr, 12 2008 @ 07:59 PM
Watch the Documentary Here

Hi HH! I was thrilled to catch this program and the conversations about race that were on afterward. I taped it last night and my husband and I just finished watching it. I just came on ATS to see if there was a thread about it and if there wasn't, I was going to start it.

This was an INCREDIBLE program and I loved it! What a great opportunity for these two to meet and what a fantastic way to encourage people to start this conversation. I'm just so impressed with it all.

I was going to send you a PM about this, but I might as well say it here. A lot of what I saw and heard on these programs brought up thoughts of certain... shall we say... past discussions of mine here. I'm not saying that I've "seen the light" or that I have made any fundamental changes in my beliefs, I haven't. But I do want to say that a lot of what I heard in these past discussions here (and didn't understand) became clear as I watched these 2 programs today. I understand a lot that I was previously baffled about.

I want to talk more about this, especially with you, but I have to cook dinner right now. I'm just so excited and I want to hear what you thought about the program. Specifically the quote from Daisy, the 97-year-old family friend about reparations. And the idea that real reparations would be money spent in inner city schools as Malaak Compton was talking about.

Oh, and the baby doll test! What a shocker! I NEVER would have thought it would be like that today! There's so much to say! I can't wait to have this conversation!


[edit on 12-4-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]

posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 03:55 AM

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic husband and I just finished watching it.

Hey BH! It looks like we may have been the only ATS'ers who saw it.
What did he think, btw?

I'm not saying that I've "seen the light" or that I have made any fundamental changes in my beliefs, I haven't. But I do want to say that a lot of what I heard in these past discussions here (and didn't understand) became clear as I watched these 2 programs today. I understand a lot that I was previously baffled about.

Like what? I'm personally curious, but I also think it might be helpful to those of us who haven't seen the documentary. (Also, how cool and 'grown-up' of you to say it in public! And, it's ok that you haven't "seen the light"- I think we're all trying to find our way.)

I'm just so excited and I want to hear what you thought about the program. Specifically the quote from Daisy, the 97-year-old family friend about reparations. And the idea that real reparations would be money spent in inner city schools as Malaak Compton was talking about.

First off, I thought the film's concept was cool. Thanks to sites like and, a lot of black Americans are searching for their pasts, and, in doing so, we're all bound to run into situations like these. So, a program like this could be educational in that sense. OTOH, for the white viewers, I think it might be good to see that every black person who may, or may not be, related to you does not want to rob you, so don't be so defensive. They might just want to know how you feel about the whole mess.

About Miss Daisy. Before I get started, let me say that she reminds me of just about every old person in my family, and it was a delight to see her get a few minutes to shine. That said, she's from the 'old school', when black people barely had the right to walk down the same street as a white person. As a result, she, and others in her age group, look like they've lost a lot of the hope that got us to, and through, the Civil Rights Movement. For example, just using this as a data point, I had quite a few conversations about Obama with older black people, before Super Tuesday. Almost uniformly, they told me, white folks aint gon' vote for him. Plain and simple. They had no hope that (white) people might have changed after all this time. I felt like that was where Miss Daisy was coming from. That, imo, is a problem.

Another issue I have with her line of thinking is that it's based on a Judeo-Christian ideal of an anthropomorphic God who will 'avenge' us, or whatever. I don't know, but I don't believe in it. Remember, this was the same God who encouraged us to be non-rebellious slaves. To put it mildly, I find all conclusions based on a mystical "Superman"-type figure saving us in the end to be highly suspect.

When it comes to reparations, you know how I feel. I've always been a proponent of the community-based approach. OTOH, I've been thinking, if the government can manage to squeeze out $600 checks in the midst of a depression, maybe I'm thinking too small... j/k, but, really, imagine how that looks to people who get slapped down for wanting an after-school center.

Oh, and the baby doll test! What a shocker! I NEVER would have thought it would be like that today!

'Colorism' is a product of colonialism and mass media. It's reinforced everyday. Why would it change?

(two non-black examples of colorism)
The Boston Globe: Pride or prejudice?
Alternet: A Mother Adopts, and Discovers Her Own Racism


Nice to see you, too.

posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 09:10 AM

Originally posted by HarlemHottie
What did he think, btw?

I'll ask him and maybe he'll write something later. Better his thoughts come from him than me.

Like what?

When I told my husband that, he asked the same thing and I had a hard time articulating EXACTLY what I understood better than before, but it's more like I had a picture in front of me with some very clear areas and some areas were blurry and others were completely missing. And because of that, I couldn't tell what the completed picture was. But as I watched the shows, a clarity appeared... Almost as if I'd been looking at the situation without reading glasses - and watching the shows made some of the blurry parts clearer and brought into focus and revealed other sections... I still don't see the total picture with full clarity, but I can tell what it is and I want to see it all because it's really cool.

Particularly, I honestly didn't believe that little kids today would see the black doll as the bad doll. I could not understand HOW, in today's America, a black child could be raised thinking that his own color was bad. I just honestly couldn't see it. When child after child picked the black doll and the "bad" or "ugly" one, and then when asked, "Which of these babies is like you", the little girl hesitated (thinking of all the past answers she'd given) and then picked the black one, it freaking broke my heart!

And after hearing Malaak talk about how progressively she has raised her kids (only 3 and 5 years old) and they STILL want to be like the little white girls, I had to accept that no matter what happens in the home, no matter how the parents instill a feeling of pride and confidence in their children, there have to be changes in society before these kids REALLY get that they are entitled to be here and that they are as good as (or whatever) the white people whose faces appear on the vast majority of magazines, movies, billboards, etc.

Another thing I realized is how defensive I've been in discussions here. To my credit, though, much of the time I felt defensive, it was because I was under attack (not by you), and all it takes is one really angry black person on the attack to put me on the defensive, which I think is pretty normal. But I don't need to be defensive. I don't need to defend my beliefs, thoughts or actions. What I DO need to do is listen and realize that what I'm hearing may seem to be incomprehensible, but it actually could be true.

Another thing I learned (and I'm seeing I actually "learned" more from the conversation after the documentary than the documentary itself) is that what most people call "black culture" is not at all that. What most people refer to as "black culture" is the culture of pathology that Professor Carr was so intent on denying. The culture of criminal, violence, drugs, abandoning fathers, etc. When he stood up and talked, I heard some real honesty from him. Some difficult stuff to hear, for sure, but the most honest of the evening, I thought.

When he talked about REAL black culture - what it really is - and said that he and his students knew what it was and there is nothing wrong with it, I GOT what he meant. And one thing I felt was excluded. And I hated that. I realized that I don't want to be excluded from a beautiful, rich, colorful culture that I have previously misunderstood.

I think we have to have this discussion. Not necessarily you and me, but Americans. And we have to give up the PC way of thinking. That's what's keeping people quiet about it. I was having a discussion on another board about a racial matter and - NOT because anyone was getting out of hand, no edits had taken place, no one was insulting anyone... it was a really good discussion - but the admin of the board closed the thread, because it MIGHT get ugly. These racial discussions sometimes do, you know...
Preemptive shut down of racial discussion. I was so disappointed!

One more reason to love ATS!!!

More on the rest later. Doggies, breakfast and such.

posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 10:21 AM
Hi again, HH!
It's been a while, and then some...

My thoughts on this are still gelling... it was a lot of information provided in a very short time. So please forgive any incoherence, here... hopefully that will improve as the discussion proceeds.

However -

I think probably more real good was done by the two Davids in their personal meeting and developing friendship than will ever be done by any institutional entity. I think the social inertia that exists at the institutional level will be very difficult to overcome, and that will most effectively be done at the personal level. Which, IMO, is the level that really matters.

I would dearly love to sit down with Prof. Carr for an extended talk. I am seriously impressed by that man. A lot of what he said went right over my head, and I have questions that can be best resolved in 1:1 conversation.

I think I disagree with Tom Joyner on his desire for an apology. I have the same feeling about reparations. For the government to pay reparations, or issue a formal apology, would, I believe, be completely useless in real effect in improving the situation. Because it would not be real. It would be pro-forma, and then everybody could go along and say "Well, we apologized (or paid reparations), so you people should just be happy now". And that would bury the topic again and do no good. It would be about as useful as the upcoming 'economic stimulus package' is going to be... all form and no substance. And not to bring politics too much into this, but would you HH personally find an apology or reparations from George W Bush to be worth anything at all?

What I think would be more effective would be some of the efforts Malaak is driving - to get all public schools up to the same level, and start teaching more complete and honest history. I think that is one thing that got missed in the discussion... not only is history as taught in the US incomplete, it is deceptive.

There also needs to be a social push towards more respect and honor shown between individuals in our culture, without regard to race or economic class. I wish I knew how to make this happen... it needs to be a strong, real push, not the kind of nonsense of "Just say no to drugs" (we see how well that has worked), but deeper. To use a gross example, it needs to be as strong as the social push to not pick one's nose in public. That level of strength and universality.

I was quite shocked at the discrepancy between black men and women and the paths to which they get funneled by the current culture. Clearly something is seriously wrong there.

I'd like to see the doll test performed with some alterations:
1 - Two dolls with identical hair and features, differing only in skin color.
2 - Two dolls with the same skin color, one with African hair and features and one with Caucasian.

I think the conversation that took place after the documentary is a good start, but I think its effectiveness was degraded due to the commercial television venue. They were just starting to get past the superficial, politically-correct boundary (apologies - those words don't quite say what I mean, but were the best I could come up with) and starting to scratch the surface of the real meat of the issue (thanks, I think, to Prof. Carr) when the show was over. And the constant commercial interruptions didn't help either. So while I applaud the effort, I'm thinking a venue like LinkTV, without the commercial or time constraints would be more effective. But maybe we can carry on here, with the impetus provided by the MSNBC effort.

One thing I really liked was the discussion (I don't recall exactly who started it) on 'not seeing "you" as black'. I agree with whoever it was that said we should see black people as black, asian as asian and so on. The PC culture that has developed seems to be that seeing a difference implies a necessary superior/inferior relationship. I think this contributes to the tension that exists... it is not OK to notice and talk about differences, because right away there is the background of better/worse. And this creates distance... how freeing it would be for me, a white person, to even be able to discuss with a black person how it feels to be in Phoenix, AZ sunlight in the summer. There have to be differences, and it would be so cool to be able to talk about them without the racial jibber-jabber.

Gonna stop for now...

posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 10:33 AM

Originally posted by Open_Minded Skeptic
One thing I really liked was the discussion (I don't recall exactly who started it) on 'not seeing "you" as black'.

Oh! That was another point of clarity for me! I now realize how "being colorblind" COULD be an offensive concept to black people. I GOT it. Always before, I thought it was a good thing to "not see color" and in my defense (and for many of us who use that phrase or concept) it does not discount a person's color. All it means is we have chosen to deny that the color conveys some sort of inferiority as we have been taught that it does. Does that make sense? It's not that I don't see color, it's that I don't see inferiority when I see color. And I honestly think that's what people are saying with that.

It sounds pretty clumsy and a bit stupid when I explain it, but there you have it...

posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 12:46 PM
First of probably several "Oh yeahs!"...

One point that struck me is the difference in serious-ness applied to white vs black public figures and their behavior.

Case in point - I'm sure we all remember the "nappy-headed ho's" comment made some time ago by Don Imus. And the national firestorm that arose.

Contrast that with the response to Rev. Wright's "God-damn America" comments. There was NO national discussion or debate around that, which from what I can find was 5 years ago, until such time as it proved possibly useful to use against a black candidate for President.

This to me indicates the degree to which the black community is not taken seriously in the US, and when noticed at all, how what is said is twisted and corrupted in an attempt to manipulate perception.

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