André Robert Lee '93 is a director and producer who creates documentaries designed to open up the floor to racial discussions. Rather than making a "safe space," he wants his audience to be uncomfortable. He wants real discussions to occur as a result of the works he's made.
Lee is an African-American who got a golden ticket, as his peers referred to it, when he received a full scholarship to an elite private school. After going through prep school, he attended Connecticut College.
Lee was always fascinated with the idea of this golden ticket he received and how it forever changed the way he fit into American society. He started reflecting on his own story, which made him want to expand his research and discovery further. So, he combined his interest in racial studies with his interest in film. "I'm Not Racist, Am I?" is his most recent project.
Last Wednesday, the campus got a chance to watch the film and have a Q&A session with Lee. Prior to this, my American Studies class got an even more exceptional experience: Lee came to our class and, more or less, led that day's class discussion.
The experience that movie-goers, but especially members of my American Studies class, were able to have was really unique when you think about it. Many people don't have the opportunity, resources, and/or education for such discussions, let alone discussions with a filmmaker. We were able to combine people from different states (different countries even), different economic backgrounds, different cultures, etc. to have a real, unfiltered discussion on race. That's such a genuine, liberal arts-y thing.
We also can't forget that Lee is a Connecticut College Camel himself, as is Liza Talusan '97, an educator featured prominently in the film. As a first-year student, I haven't really looked past college yet, but it's good to sometimes take a step back and look at all of the possibilities. College students are standing in square one, surrounded by opportunities that they can choose to take or not take. Lee was in our shoes, then he left the Land of Camels on one of those paths and returned to show us baby Camels what's possible.