Spike Lee Blasts New York Times Over Gentrification Debate

Spike Lee

Spike Lee Blasts New York Times Over Gentrification Debate

Filmmaker pens open letter after NYT calls him a hypocrite.

Published April 1, 2014

The battle over Brooklyn continues. A month after Spike Lee's rant against the gentrification of his old neighborhood went viral, The New York Times has published a piece calling the New York filmmaker a hypocrite for lashing out at upper middle class families taking over the traditionally working class area and pricing old inhabitants out of the housing market.

"What’s the saying about people who live in glass brownstones? Nearly everyone who brings up gentrification is implicated in some way, and accusations of hypocrisy on Mr. Lee’s part were not long in coming," begins the NYT piece, penned by the paper's movie critic A.O. Scott. "Mr. Lee currently lives in the old-money oasis of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and also that when he lived in Brooklyn, he was both an agent and a beneficiary of the gentrification he now decries. Mr. Lee’s presence in Fort Greene in the 1990s — as an artist, an entrepreneur and a celebrity — contributed in no small measure to that area’s cachet," he continues.

Lee, not surprisingly, isn't taking the critique lying down. The filmmaker penned an open letter, which he posted to social media, responding to Scott's accusations and blasting the New York Times. "Your criticism of me as a hypocrite is lame, weak and not really thought out," he says. "You stated in your Article that because I live in The Upper East Side and I’m talking about Gentrification that makes me Hypocrite. The fact is where I live has nothing to do with it...If you did your research you would see I’m a product of The New York Public School System, from Kindergarten to graduating from John Dewey High School in Coney Island."

Lee continues, "The Lees were the 1st Black Family to move into the predominantly Italian-American Brooklyn Neighborhood of Cobble Hill. My Parents bought their first home in 1968, a Brownstone in Fort Greene, where my Father still lives...Mr. Scott, what you fail to understand is that I can live on The Moon and what I said is still TRUE. No matter where I choose to live that has nothing to do with it. I will always carry Brooklyn in my Blood, Heart and Soul. "

The Do the Right Thing filmmaker signed the note with, "WAKE UP. WE BEEN HERE. Spike Lee, Filmmaker, Fort Greene, Da Republic of Brooklyn, New York. YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF. And Dat’s Da Truth Ruth."

To read Lee's full letter to A.O. Scott, click here.  

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(Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) 

Written by Evelyn Diaz


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