I was flipping through the TV channels last week and came across one of Spike Lee’s best movies, School Daze. This was a 1988 film written and directed by Lee. The movie took an inside look at some of the internal issues that go on within the Black community—issues like dark skinned Blacks versus light skinned Blacks; Blacks that have “good” hair versus Blacks with “nappy” hair; Blacks from wealthy families versus Blacks from poor families. The movie was funny and serious at the same time. I always say that comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
The movie’s setting takes place on the fictional Black college campus of Morehouse College. Lee’s concept for the movie was based on his experiences he had as a student at School Daze, as well as his interactions with students from Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Spelman and Morehouse are predominately occupied by children of the Black elite. They are all located in Atlanta.
The movie received critical acclaim and was a financial success. But it created a firestorm because the elite Blacks did not take well to criticism of their disdain of Blacks who were not part of their clique—just ask Bill Cosby.
Though the school in the movie was named Mission College, it was actually shot on the campuses of Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta. But, because of the movie’s portrayal of the Black bourgeoisie, Lee was forced to stop filming on those campuses and was barred from being invited to speak on their campuses after the movie was released. He was forced to complete his filming at nearby Morris Brown College, a lesser known Black college that was not known to have many people from wealthy backgrounds.
Not much has changed in the 25 years since the release of School Daze. As a matter of fact, one could argue that this schism within the Black community has gotten worse.