'Fuck Gentrification,' Says Spike Lee in Epic Rant

Illustration for article titled 'Fuck Gentrification,' Says Spike Lee in Epic Rant

Spike Lee is ranting again, and this time the Do The Right Thing director is fussing about gentrification in New York.

While speaking at Brookyn’s Pratt Institute this week, some poor soul tried to ask Mama Spike about "the other side" of the gentrification debate regarding his beloved borough of Brooklyn — as in "but look at all of the new businesses and better schools, etc." — and it was all downhill from there.

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 motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.


Daily Intel reports that Mama Spike went on and on, highlighting even his father, a jazz musician, and his struggle with new neighbors who complain about his band practices.

Then comes the motherfuckin' Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can't discover this! We been here. You just can't come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin' African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can't do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father's a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin'-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin' people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He's not — he doesn't even play electric bass! It's acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin' house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin'-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

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.

You can't just — here's another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin' Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, "Wait a minute! We can't have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who's coming to the neighborhood? They're gonna leave lots of garbage." Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It's like the motherfuckin' Westminster Dog Show. There's 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect 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 shit gotta change because you're here? Get the fuck outta here. Can't do that!

Mama Spike has spoken and he's right, but tide has probably shifted too far in Brooklyn (and the whole city, really) to turn back. Good luck with that tale of two cities, Mayor de Blasio — you're going to need all the help you can get.

Image via Getty.

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To be honest as a young black Brooklyn girl born and raised i'm still on the fence about gentrification . For me its not about the "white" people moving in, its really about what happens when they move in which shows you just how racist New York City can be. Literally, the minute a white person moves into a neighborhood , the roads are better paved, less potholes, more shopping areas, etc (all great things) but the things that make Brooklyn home like that mom and pop coffee shop where you could get great coffee for a dollar is now replaced by Starbucks. Then on top of that a lot of the new people that move in start to act like they literally own the neighborhood in the sense that they know whats best for it, culture wise , if you catch my drift. I love to see diversification, but not at the expense of people who have been living there for years and call it home. Rents skyrocket, people are purposefully put out, and why because Pete and Tom can pay more. I guess its just the state of business and I need to get used to it. I feel for people who just love Brooklyn and want to move here because they like it or think its "cool" but I fear the day the house my parents bought in East Flatbush, where I lived for 25 years, is bought by a real estate agent who would rather build condominiums. Gentrification hasn't hit my largely Caribbean neighborhood yet, but I know as they get deeper and deeper into Crown Heights and they realize my neighborhood is just 45 min from midtown with fresh farmers markets that are open 24 hrs and cheaper than Trader Joe's, WE'RE NEXT .