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He is black. He is privileged. And all of that concerns his parents.

At first I didn't understand why two parents wanted to film their son's journey through prep school. But once they started telling their story, I totally got it.

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The Atlantic Philanthropies

Meet Joe Brewster.

Meet Michèle Stephenson.


Michèle and Joe are married with two kids. Their oldest son is named Idris. At the age of 4, Idris was accepted into The Dalton School, a super-elite and rigorous college prep school, where he was one of few black students from a middle-class family.

"I want my son to have the best education possible. Although he's not technically from an upper class, Idris is very privileged and bright." — Joe Brewster

Both Joe and Michèle grew up poor. Joe became a doctor and Michèle a lawyer. So their son has been afforded opportunities they never had. That's great, but it's also really scary to them.

"I just don't want Idris to be hurt. I don't want for his self esteem to suffer. ... In any environment that you're in, whether it's Dalton or elsewhere, race always plays a part in how the students are perceived, in how we perceive as parents our role in that environment. How we interpret what the school says, how the school reacts to the kids and reacts to us as parents. It's always there as an undercurrent." — Michele Stephenson

So, they decided to film their son Idris' experience for 13 years — from the time he started kindergarten at 5 to his graduation at the age of 18.

Each year Idris talks about his feelings as they relate to race and class on tape. It's interesting to check out his observations year after year.

Age 5

Age 9

Age 10

Age 11

Age 17

Then the 17-year-old added:

"The students ... a lot of them, live in this bubble, and during the course of my life, it's created a divide between my school life and in my race. I've been around a lot of black people outside of school, and they have a totally different way of living, totally different way of speaking and going about their daily lives. I really do feel a sense of two-ness. "

While Idris' parents were super-concerned about how he would confront race and class issues at school, all in all, they still wouldn't trade the experience.

Whoa. This kind of reminds me of my experience growing up. Two-ness — I can so relate. I wonder how many other kids in this situation have felt like this? Click below to preview the rest of this fascinating documentary.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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