*For centuries, Black people in America have been subjected to systemic racism that has touched every sector of their lives. With ongoing displacement, exclusion, bias, segregation, and socioeconomic injustices, an overwhelming population of Black people find themselves woefully and wrongfully denied fair housing, a quality education, bountiful employment, affordable health care, and a fair justice system. For White people, it’s the opposite.
Yet, what if the tables were turned, which presented a reversal of Black and White roles in America? Imagine if Black people were the privileged sector of society and benefactors of golden opportunities in their lives. Suppose White people were transmuted to assume subservient roles that many Black people have struggled to shake since slavery.
In the recently released film, “Negative Exposure,” such reversals of Black and White roles come to fruition. The movie’s storyline follows Jayson Gresham (Taylor Katsanis), a young WHITE MAN trapped in the ghetto, where vicious cycles of poverty, hopelessness, racial profiling and police harassment have been a daily way of life for generations. Jayson’s longtime friend is Bones (Darrell Snedeger), a White hoodlum who controls everything that’s illegal in the hood, specifically the sale of drugs and gang activities.
Nevertheless, Jayson seeks a better life for his young daughter and himself. However, Blacks maintain a system of racism to keep Jayson and other ghetto-dwelling Whites suppressed. As a result, Jayson, through interactions with Bones, faces decisions and consequences that will alter his life in definitive ways.
The film was shot in Columbia, South Carolina – although it could have been shot in any American city, where impoverished communities and underserved populations fight for survival.
“The film’s concept has been brimming in me for about eight years,” said Bishop Eric Warren Davis, who is the film’s executive producer and stars as Pastor Kingsley, an elite Black clergy with ruling class privileges, who is ultimately faced with soul-searching decisions in the name of humanity. “After the Trayvon Martin deadly shooting, I found myself having discussions with interracial groups and saw the lack of empathy, even in rooms with multicultural pastors. That’s when the concept came to me to make a movie where there is a reversal of roles. I saw the film as a way to deliver a powerful message about racism.”
According to Davis, he created E.D. Legacy Films in Columbia, South Carolina. Last year, Davis and his film company partnered with writer/director/producer Tony Tite of Atlanta-based Global Star Media TV/Films. Tite wrote the movie script and served as the film’s director. The two men assembled a production crew out of Atlanta and an integrated cast of actors and actresses from Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The movie, said Davis, was shot in 21 days, wrapping up production in early March of 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the film from being shown in movie theaters, at the moment, “Negative Exposure” can be seen on Vimeo, an on-demand film/video hosting, sharing, and services platform. On Vimeo, the movie can be rented or purchased. However, Davis said talks are still on-going with national and international movie theaters to show the film.
“The feedback from the film has been very positive,” said Davis. “We expected some pushback because people are going to have their biases. Most people thought because the film was directed by a Black person that it was going to have an angry message. This movie has black and white points in it that had to be made but the ultimate message is loving one another and having empathy for one another. But there were some hard points made in the movie to get to those messages.”
Davis believes “Negative Exposure” is right for this moment in time, although racism has been around for centuries. And there are countless news stories of police brutality and other injustices against Black people at a rate too frequent to count. However, the tragic murders of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd represent only a few Black lives that have been lost to the rages of racial and inhumane hatred. What has followed these fatal encounters have been mass protests, coast to coast.
“The reasons why there are so many protests across the country and the world is that people are tired of systems based on stereotypical perceptions that are not in step with a changing world and generations,” said Davis. “The world is crying out for ‘justice and change.’ It’s no longer classism or racism as usual, there has to be a clearer picture, and in ‘Negative Exposure’ we offer the opportunity to look at where we need to be moving as a society.”
Based on the film’s potent message, the movie has garnered the attention of The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). With its 700 members, the organization represents more than 50 million Americans across the country. NBCSL has adopted the J.A.Y.S.O.N. (Just as Your Son) Resolution, which is based on a concept from the movie. During the upcoming NBCSL 44th Virtual Annual Legislative Conference in late November into December, the group will screen the movie as part of a central discussion. The organization is targeting more than 100,000 young people to watch the film.
“Negative Exposure” is seen as a call to action in an effort to expedite legislation to transform policing into a model that is equitable and safe for all communities, specifically those inhabited by people of color,” said Davis. “We want to take audiences out of the dark into the light and joining forces with NBCSL to strengthen political advocacy in local communities is one way to accomplish this goal. This film stands as a beacon for social and racial reform!”