Swathed in New York merchandise and armed with expletives, Spike Lee made clear to the world his impression on the change going on in Brooklyn, more specifically in Fort Greene, where the famous director grew up.
His tirade was spurred by an article in the New York Times referring to the “good of gentrification.” (See: “Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood” and New York’s “Is Gentrification All Bad?“) Lee, whose 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks headquarters and father’s house are in Fort Greene, spoke on the history of the area and the presence of a rich culture that gave daily reverence to its African roots.
“Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.”
Lee was most perturbed by the incoming residents who apparently call the police at the slightest noise and refused a Michael Jackson party because of the potential garbage that would be left behind. He also countered with the fact that the incoming residents’ canine companions leave enough crap behind on a daily basis. Lee also spoke on the rising cost of living in an area that was predominantly Black when he was growing up and now a white demographic is taking over.
According to the New York Daily News, Lee is also part of the problem. Not only has he purchased homes in the area and sold them at higher prices, but he bought his residence on East 63rd Street for $16 million in 2006 and is now selling it for a whopping $32 million. Although one could argue that he’s just going along with the market, as he didn’t create the problem of gentrification in Fort Greene. Despite his hypocritical real estate ventures, Lee is correct in stating that New York needs more affordable housing, and not necessarily low-income, for its residents.
Check out his entire rant below: