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Spike Lee: New Film Meant to Make People ‘Think’ About Guns, ‘Everybody’ Has Failed Young Americans


Tuesday on MSNBC, host Tamron Hall interviewed filmmaker Spike Lee about his new movie, “Chi-Raq.”

Lee explained what he wanted people to take away from that movie and opined about the plight of young Americans in black communities, specific Chicago and how society has “failed” those individuals.

Partial transcript as follows:

HALL: What did you want people to feel, to see after seeing this film?

LEE: Well, we opened nationwide Friday and there’s a lot of confusion because the Amazon film, people think it is going automatically to Prime. No, it’s going to be in theaters first. Usually when I get asked that question I say, ‘I’m not going to answer.’ But I’m going to make an exception this time. I really want people who see this film really think harder and longer about guns in this country and we got to do something about it.

HALL: You know that when people think about Chicago — I lived there for 10 years, they think about the South Side, they think about the West Side, they think black-on-black crime and you have critics who say when we talk about gun violence, especially some conservatives who have said, ‘Well, blacks don’t talk enough about black on black crime in their community.’ Is that true?

LEE: Well, I thought I had to. I can’t speak for anybody else but I just felt that I’m a supporter of black lives matter. I was marching out there in New York where Eric Garner. My son and I were in the first pew — Mike Brown’s casket right in front of us. But at the same time, I can’t be selling about what we do in our communities. So it goes hand in hand for me.

HALL: You’ve been in Chicago before, your history with Chicago we all know very well. But when you walked through the streets of Chicago, what did you hear from those young men who are — those characters that you have in your film, you are basing this off of people that you encounter. What do you believe they need to stop this violence?

LEE: Well, they got to believe that people care about them, that they’re loved. They got to know that they can have a job. They got to know that life is precious. Lot of these young brothers, they don’t care, they die at 18 years old. They’re perfectly OK with it. There are a lot of things. There’s not going to be one answer that’s going to eradicate what’s happened on Chicago’s South Side but they have to learn to love themselves because I think a lot of this comes from self-hate.

HALL: You are a father. You have a son and a daughter. When you hear a 14 or 16-year-old say, ‘I don’t care if I die and really mean it,’ what does that make you feel after all of your years on the front line?

LEE: It means we failed our young people. We failed our young Americans.

HALL: Do you mean black parents have failed or the black community?

LEE: No, just everybody. The government, too. Local, state and federal. Why is it that the worst schools, you know, we go down the line. Worst facilities. Talking about food deserts, all these things we find our youth battling. Even show the film was called ‘Chi-Raq,’ this stuff’s happening in Palestinian, in the Bronx, in ‘Killadelpha,’ ‘Body-more’ – that’s Philly, Baltimore, New Orleans, D.C., ‘Dodge City,’ the Bay Area. So, this is a thing that’s really crippling our neighborhoods.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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