The Prep School Negro, directed by André Robert Lee, is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary currently making its way around the country in outreach workshops. After each showing, André engages the audience in a Q & A session and discussion.
Here is a summary of the film from its website:
“André Robert Lee and his sister grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia. Their mother struggled to support them by putting strings in the waistbands of track pants and swimsuits in a local factory. When André was 14 years old, he received what his family believed to be a golden ticket – a full scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Elite education was Andre’s way up and out, but at what price? Yes, the exorbitant tuition was covered, but this new world cost him and his family much more than anyone could have anticipated.
In The Prep School Negro, André takes a journey back in time to revisit the events of his adolescence while also spending time with current day prep school students of color and their classmates to see how much has really changed inside the ivory tower. What he discovers along the way is the poignant and unapologetic truth about who really pays the consequences for yesterday’s accelerated desegregation and today’s racial naiveté.”
Here is an AOL Black Voices Interview with André about the film (August 10, 2009):
Over the last few months, The Prep School Negro has been shown in the NYC area at the Fieldston School, Packer Collegiate Institute, Horace Mann School, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Riverdale Country School, and the Independent School Placement Association (ISPA) Leadership Summit. For those interested in seeing the film, please consult the film’s website.
For those who are interested in reading more about the experiences of students of color in independent/ private schools, particularly in light of the NYSAIS Diversity Conference, embRACE: Race and Education, held at Lycée Français de New York on April 9, 2010, we suggest starting with an article from The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) website by Michael Thompson & Kathy Schultz (2003), “The Psychological Experiences of Students of Color” .