Alumnus asks, “I’m Not Racist … Am I?” in new documentary
Filmmaker Andre Lee ’93 will screen his new film, "I'm Not Racist ... Am I?" on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium. He will participate in a Q&A with the audience after the film.
The feature documentary, which Lee produced, follows 12 New York City high school students of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds for one year as they complete a series of workshops and discussions — all about race and privilege.
“Conversations about race and racism are very difficult,” Lee told a large crowd of Connecticut College alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff during a visit to the College last fall. “No one wants to appear racist and no one wants to sound ignorant, so people don’t have these conversations.”
But he believes such conversations are necessary and powerful, and he is facilitating them with his latest film, which is part of a larger initiative, Deconstructing Race, developed by The Calhoun School to create a multimedia platform to get young people, their teachers and their families talking — and doing something — about structural systemic racism.
Lee is no stranger to tough topics: His earlier documentary, 2012’s “The Prep School Negro,” examined the “psychological homelessness” he says he endured and that other black students face when admitted to elite, mostly white preparatory schools. And he’s currently working on a feature narrative about Bayard Rustin, an architect of the civil rights movement who has been largely left out of the history books.
In addition to his alma mater, Lee is taking “I’m Not Racist … Am I?” to other colleges, high schools and even corporate offices to spark more conversations. And he’s seeing results. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction after screening the film at Google’s headquarters, he said, “Nearly 65 percent of the Google staff is white and male, so we weren’t sure what to expect. They want to make improvements, and they want to attract workers from other backgrounds.”