Brooklyn Native Spike Lee Talks About Gentrification

Posted By Urban News Hour | July 31, 2013

When you think Brooklyn, you’ll eventually think Spike Lee. The renowned filmmaker always pays homage to his native borough and is keenly aware of the gentrification that seems to push out the very people that made it the place to be day after day.
We caught up with the Do The Right Thing director while he was promoting his Kickstarter campaign. Recently, the brownstone used in his film Crooklyn was sold in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for $1.7 million . When Lee’s mother purchased a brownstone in Fort Greene back in 1969, she dropped a whopping $40 grand. Lee admits that gentrification has positives, like a greater police presence or your trash being picked up when it’s supposed to. However, he has personally been affected by newcomers arriving and suffering from the “Christopher Columbus Syndrome.”

“There’s a great tradition [and] heritage in Harlem, in Fort Greene and Bed-Stuy, you just can’t come in and blow up the spot like you been there forever,” explained Lee. “My father is a great Jazz musician, Bill Lee. Did the scores for She’s Gotta Have It, School Days,, Do The Right Thing, and Mo Better Blues .  He’s been playing music in our home since 1969. Now, some neighbor moved in, they’re calling the cops on father saying he’s playing his music too loud.  That’s some bullsh-t.”
The younger Lee adds, “No one has ever complained, since 1969, about my father playing his Jazz music. Now this new person moves in, they calling the cops? The cops laugh at them! It’s that type of attitude man. That’s not making good neighbors. That’s not coming in the neighborhood being humble.”

Safe bet they never bothered to knock on Bill Lee’s door, too. “Everybody in the Lower East Side, they moved to Williamsburg. Particularly my Puerto Rican brother and sisters, they can’t afford Williamsburg anymore because of hipsters,” says Lee. “They moved to Bushwick; pretty soon Bushwick is going to be like Williamsburg. After Coney Island there is nowhere else! After the beach at Coney Island, it’s the motherf-cking Atlantic Ocean!”

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