Spike Lee represents New York, more specifically Brooklyn, with glowing pride and has defended keeping the culture of the city intact in the past. The famed director found himself once more railing against the gentrification of his beloved borough and other well-known sections of the city in an explosive rant last night (February 25).
Lee was the guest lecturer at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, not far from where his father lives and also his base of operations for his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule. When an audience member tried to ask Lee to look at the possible benefits of gentrification, Lee went off for several minutes about the changing landscape in Brooklyn and Harlem. NY Mag was on hand to record the event, and transcribed much of the rant.
From NY Mag:
Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf*ckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park.
I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now sh*t gotta change because you’re here? Get the f*ck outta here. Can’t do that!
Lee’s entire rant is worth the listen. Sure, he’s a bit profane but the passion he has for Brooklyn and New York in general is undeniable. Lee also gives a bit of lip service to hipsters that have made formerly affordable areas of Brooklyn too pricey for people of color to live in any longer.
Hip-Hop Wired spoke with Lee last summer during his successful Kickstarter campaign. Lee’s anti-gentrification stance was on display then as well, echoing many of the same sentiments he expressed in the lecture last evening.
Do you agree with Spike Lee’s criticism of gentrification in New York? Let us know in the comments.
Listen to the audio of Spike Lee spitting fire against gentrification in the clip below.
Photo: Joel Ginsburg/WENN