By Hadas Kuznits
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A North Philadelphia school was addressing issues of inequality, culture, race, and more today at their annual symposium.
The 17th Annual Symposium on Inner-City Education took place at the Gesu School, in North Philadelphia.
“This particular theme is the journey through an independent school,” says school president and CEO Brian Carter, “with a focus on the film The Prep School Negro, by Andre Robert Lee.”
In the film, director-producer Andre Robert Lee depicts his personal experience transitioning from the black majority at his grade school to being in a minority at Germantown Friends School.
“There was just this internal turmoil feeling, like I was so strange and so different from everybody there,” Lee, today’s keynote speaker, recalled. “I would go back to my neighborhood and they’d say, ‘Oh, you’re talking white.’ And at school they’d say I was talking too black. But what was all this stuff about?”
Carter says the goal of the symposium was to start a dialogue about education, culture, economics, and race:
“Andre’s experience is what so many of our children experience, which is: you grow up in the poor area, with deep poverty, go to a great school like Gesu School, which is 99 percent African-American student population, and then you go on to a great high school — and now you will be in the significant minority.”
Carter says the goal was to discuss how to ease that transition, which Lee notes can be extremely challenging.
“It’s hard enough to try to get all your homework done and get a date to the prom,” Lee says, “and then you add in the issue of your social identity in a community where you’re a minority, and it gets really complicated.”