Spike Lee isn’t happy with the current wave of gentrification in his beloved Big Apple and neighboring communities.
The vocal director implied that racism is behind some of the perks from gentrification, from better police protection in neighborhoods with an influx of white citizens to improved amenities for newer city dwellers.
So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!
Lee made the comments during a Black History Month event at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The director’s outrage wasn’t limited to the contrast in attitudes by local officials. He also said new residents should pay their proper respects to the existing populace and not expect the local culture to do their bidding.
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!
Lee then compared the wave of gentrification to efforts, in his view, to wipe out the Native Americans already living in the U.S. during America’s formative years.
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.