Shadow And Act on Facebook

Recent Comments

Film Finds – The Prep School Negro

The Prep School Negro

24 months in the making, The Prep School Negro, a feature documentary by André Robert Lee, is ready to hit the festival circuit. The Prep School Negro looks at the effects of aggressive desegregation on individuals, institutions, and society in general, and follows the producer and director of the film, himself a former prep school student, as he talks with family and friends about his, and their, experiences of him entering a world of privilege.

The film also follows the present day black prep school students, KJ, Alibra and Brea, who are all currently enrolled at William Penn Charter, the second oldest secondary school in the country.

From the synopsis on the film’s website:

KJ tells the story of a well-liked football player at the end of his high school career; he has a bright future and a lot of expectations to fulfill. Alibra is reluctant and skeptical of this elite world and grapples with family, peers, and her religious identity. Brea’s perspective is a bit different, however. She is not a scholarship student but the child of very accomplished parents. She struggles to understand the disconnect she feels from her peers amidst the life her parents have built.

Lee, who had a full academic scholarship to Gemantown Friends School in Philadelphia, a 150 year old school which is regularly rated by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best schools in the country, said that he had always wanted to tell this story since his first day at his private school. Before attending GFS he had never known people who were not black and not poor.

Lee says of his prep school experience and the making of this film:

“I also thought of the family and the community I had left behind. We had been trained to live as second-class citizens, and I felt guilty about gaining access to this world of privilege and knowledge. I wanted to share this new world with those who were not able to walk with me. My former elementary classmates were not reading “The Iliad” or travelling the world on a choir tour. The idea for The Prep School Negro grew out of my first days at GFS. It has been with me every since. As I reflect back, I can see more clearly the internal struggles I faced as an adolescent and as a young adult. This documentary will tell my story and the story of other prep school Negroes like me.”

Having recently completed the trailer, Lee and his production team are applying to film festivals and doing workshops for the movie around the US. To find out more about the film you can visit The Prep School Negro website.

H/T to Ed Durante who posted the trailer on Facebook.

8 comments to Film Finds – The Prep School Negro

  • I was enthralled by this trailer until Damon Dash appeared but besides that I am really looking forward to seeing this.

  • Should sit comfortably in, and contribute to the “what is blackness” discussions we’ve had on this blog, the podcast and elsewhere.

    It actually speaks somewhat to my experience, attending a private, predominantly white Catholic high school in the midwest. Although, I didn’t come from “the ghetto” as the filmmaker says about himself. I came from another continent altogether. So, not only was I not “black enough” to the other black kids, I wasn’t “black enough” to the white kids either.

    Race and identity politics have really done a number on us all.

    • I think you should try and get him on the podcast. I think he’d be an interesting guest, not just for this film alone, but because he has had quite a bit of insider industry experience.

      This is from his bio on the film’s website:

      André had his first taste of feature film while working on the set of The Best Man. After The Best Man, André took every freelance job possible in the entertainment world until landing at Miramax Films in the Academy-driven Marketing Department. André then held the post of Director of Marketing for Urbanworld. Following Urbanworld, André joined Film Movement where he produced two short films: Friday Night Fever, which was created in a partnership with Donna Karen, and The Ecology of Love (Sundance 2004), starring Pharrell Williams, which was produced in partnership with Visa. André’s work as a freelance producer has included a music video for The Churchills and numerous segments for German television.

      In the Summer of 2005 André worked with Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves; Producer) and Jeffrey Blitz (Academy Award Nominee Spellbound; Director) on their feature Rocket Science. André was in charge of all clearances and product placement for this film. André then produced Rupaul’s latest feature film project entitled Starrbooty Reloaded. In the Spring of 2006 André produced Dirty Laundry, which stars Rockmond Dunbar, Loretta Divine, Terry Vaughn, Jenifer Lewis and Sommore.

      Guess I could have mentioned all that in the post, but I wanted it to be more about the film and its topic…

    • Oh, and that you can come from Africa to the US and attend a prep school in the midwest but not be considered “black” enough for anyone…? Bizarre… Especially in light of the comment I just left on your post about Sacha Baron Cohen’s “blackface” accusations.

  • Minister of Culture and Defense

    I’m really looking forward to seeing this flick. However, I’m disappointed that Damon Dash didn’t drop the mask and speak in the documentary like he does in real life.

  • Al

    I am a “prep school negro” myself so I must see this. I have mixed feelings about Prep schools. The textbook education I received was exceptional. Socially, not so much….

  • Shari

    This film is interesting and problematic all at once. The voices of present day students is compelling and really gives insight into struggles of Black students at prep schools. The filmmaker\’s chronicle of his own narrative, family life, and depiction of his parents speaks *volumes* about what he is still working out. I\’d say the subtext of this film has more to say about the psychological dangers of prep schools for Black people.