Spike Lee Goes Off About Gentrification in New York: "We Been Here"

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 25:  Director Spike Lee speaks onstage during the "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truthts" panel discussion at the HBO portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour - Day 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 25, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Spike Lee Goes Off About Gentrification in New York: "We Been Here"

During a talk for Black History Month at Pratt Institute, a Brooklyn college, Tuesday night, Spike Lee went off on an audience member about gentrification in New York City.

Published February 26, 2014

It is no secret that Black neighborhoods around the country are being changed by gentrification, and director Spike Lee had no problem schooling someone at a Brooklyn event Tuesday about the effect it has had on New York City's Black neighborhoods in particular.

"I grew up here in New York. It’s changed," Lee said during an event at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, according to New York Magazine. "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?"

He also said there is more police protection, higher property and rent prices and better public schools, but only because of the increased presence of white people. After an audience member tried to give Lee the "other side" of gentrification, he continued to speak on how new residents come to Black neighborhoods with a "Christopher Columbus" syndrome — without respect to those who are already there.

"My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherf--kin’-sixty-eight, and the motherf--kin' people moved in last year and called the cops on my father." Lee said he is not against people coming to these neighborhoods but reiterated that there has been no respect for the culture that was present before they arrived. 

"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 s--t gotta change because you’re here?"

Does Spike Lee have a point?

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Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege.

(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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