Spike Lee Delivers Tirade Against Gentrification: ‘Get The F*** Outta Here’

Source: Matt Wilstein / Mediaite

Filmmaker Spike Lee appeared at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute for an African-American History Month lecture Tuesday night and ended up giving the audience a piece of his mind about the overwhelming gentrification that has come to his home borough since he shot his first films there nearly 30 years ago. Lee’s impassioned rant was caught on audio tape and New York Magazine’Joe Coscarelli posted the full transcription last night.

To read this article in its entirety visit Mediaite.

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  • Ada L Lee


    • RandomTechnology

      Neighborhoods (race aside) are up in arms in SF bay area over the Google and Yahoo buses having access to public bus stops. I can’t imagine a better problem to have than added income and agitation. Check out Detroit if you want to see what happens to a city that does not adapt and change with the times… Lots of local charm to be had there, yes?.

  • bobcollum

    Spike tries mightily to keep a veil over his raging racism on the topic, but he doesn’t quite nail it. It’s life, you either roll with it and adapt to changes, or you kick and scream and claim you’re being victimized.

    • Stormy Alexandra Perez

      NO, you fight for your neighborhood. You don’t just step aside and let privileged people come into to your neighborhood and change it. guess we can say the same thing about, slavery and colonization here in the America’s. We see what happened there.

      • bobcollum

        Why was it okay when the predominantly Jewish community in that area was usurped by blacks and Latinos? Martin himself stated that when his parents moved into their house, the area was almost completely Jewish.

        To compare this to slavery and colonization completely belittles those two atrocities. It shows how emotion drives most of the discussion on this topic, rather than common sense. If you’re truly proud of who you are, stop thinking like a victim. You’ve personally never experienced slavery, or colonization, so please, stop attempting to feel the pain of your ancestors. I’m absolutely positive I have ancestors that faced all sorts of adverse situations, through the hands of the “privileged”, but what good will it do to complain about it? Nobody cares, because it’s in the past, it can’t be undone. Move forward.

        • Stormy Alexandra Perez

          Same rhetoric every person of non-color and privilege, go around spewing.You obviously are living in a different time & world and are too ignorant to see how closely related these things really are. I won’t even argue with you. You’re obviously not that bright.

          • bobcollum

            blah blah, yeah, you’re still a slave. Let me know how far you get with that.

  • Bradley

    Spike is 100% correct

  • Rahsaan Woods

    these are the liberals we are suppose to trust right

  • Walter Thompson III

    The same thing is happening all over the Empire. In San Francisco where I live new folks have moved into the city and are dictating against much of the traditional culture of the city, including the night life. Arguments about public nudity, fun street festivals, and the rising rent prices in areas of the city, which were places where many artists lived, is all evidence of this attack on the culture of San Francisco. And what this all translates into is that San Francisco, like other American cities, is not for everyone because the average person can’t afford to live there. And this reality goes against the grain of what cities were in the past, in essence places in civilizations where all kinds of people lived and interacted. And in my view this is a shame even though this is the trend that will continue now and in the future in the American Empire and perhaps beyond.

  • Mike

    Gentrification is good for the city, any city. Pushes out undesirables, cleans up areas, and increases tax revenue. It has always has been this way, and it always will be. Things change, and if you can’t keep up, you don’t belong there anymore. That’s the way things go universally.

    • Davey Allen


      • Mike

        Sorry, but the truth is what it is. It doesn’t have to be gentrification, it can be any sort of change. You either roll with it or fall behind and find yourself on the outside.

        Italians, Jews, and many others used to have huge neighborhoods. Those days are mostly gone, blacks and Latinos took them over decades ago. Things change and people deal with it. They don’t whine like a baby about it. Now, young middle class people are moving back into cities, and the people that live there now are going to have to find somewhere else to live if they can’t keep up. A city should not and will not refuse the repair of a neighborhood to protect some ridiculous sense of entitlement to that neighborhood.

        • Momo

          That’s true. My grandparents lived in the Bronx and their neighborhood was Irish, German, Italian and Jewish. The same neighborhood in the 1980’s was black and Latino. That’s just the way it goes. Were the Jews, Germans et al “pushed out”? The entire place became dangerous, btw, and extremely run down. We have photos and films to prove it. People have to take responsibility for their living conditions and neighborhoods. If you don’t want to live in filth, you should not throw crap everywhere.

          • Stormy Alexandra Perez

            Cry me a river. You know nothing. That’s NOT just he way it goes. You have video’s and films to PROVE what? You only know a little about the true history of the Bronx in the 1980’s. You’re only looking through things with a lens you have cultivated.

      • BunnyColvin

        That’s what I say to the people who live in the projects across the street from my studio unit in a high rise condominium.

        • Stormy Alexandra Perez

          The SAME people that were probably living there before you. Please.

          • bobcollum

            Damn, that’s such a childish argument, Stormy. Grow up, seriously.

          • Stormy Alexandra Perez

            Childish or the TRUTH? Gain some insight BOB

          • bobcollum

            Childish, what I said.

          • BunnyColvin

            And now I’m there. All that stands between me and my property value going up another 300K are 450 units of welfare queens living off my tax dollars. My property taxes alone feed half of that building.

    • BunnyColvin

      Finally, someone who understands Darwinism

  • Maurice

    Spike’s tone tends to polarize if not naturally get a rise of people; There were a few valid points I wish to review as well as a few things I disagree with.
    1. There is less of an opportunity for diversity to take a neighborhood.
    2. There is a “Christopher Columbus” syndrome where people change the dynamic of the neighborhood.
    3. There is way to much culture that comes associated with a neighborhood; To not embrace the history is cruel.
    4. Renting has become near impossible without a gratuitous salary. It limits the ability for people to stay in Brooklyn; despite traditionally being an affordable neighborhood.

    My disagreements:

    1. These “hipsters” were attracted to NY for the same opportunities that immigrants were offered. They are students, artists, and young business hopefuls whom were pitched that NY is the place to pursue their passions.
    2. It is not as though blacks were the only ones affected; There have been a multitude of cultures associated with Brooklyn. To insinuate that a decrease in crime and regular garbage pick up is a slap in the face, is beyond his right to complain; I mean, he owns a million dollar penthouse on the East Side Manhattan.
    3. Changing the names for the market is morally wrong and decreasing wealth value of homes is unfair; still “hipsters” did not create this market, NY did.
    4. If there is a solution to stopping reverse migration, what is the solution? I dream of being in NY can’t and probably won’t ever be able to afford it unless I am in school. YES I am a black guy pushed out to Bucks County. Working there without the means of entry is a ticket to quick dismissal.

  • justifyd

    I dont think gentrification is a bad thing necessarily. Usually those areas being gentrified have higher crime rates, drug activity and less opportunities for people to live legit. And if that area is allowed to exist then it can pour over into other neighborhoods which in turn isnt good for society. But i think instead of just displacing these people they should do something for these people. Like find places and jobs for them instead of just throwing them on the street. Or put them though school if they havent gone. America is quick to take things from people but very few times do they give to people. And i dont mean welfare or whatever. I mean things these people could actually use to progress their life

    • Mike

      They have plenty of opportunity to fix their lives. AA, government grants for education, student loans, all kinds of things. There is absolutely nothing at all preventing anyone in this country from fixing their lives. The problems are not with our country, but with certain subcultures that do not prioritize education as a means to success.

      • Stormy Alexandra Perez

        PLEASE stop. Your rhetoric about government programs and assistance is ridiculous. Ever been on those programs? Ever had to rely on food stamps? Student loans?–who can afford to pay them back. The problem is people in this country were NEVER given a fair shot/chance. It’s been race to the top since we were brought here on ships. Our work has been taken for granted. Our history has been stripped away. We don’t even know who we are anymore. We didn’t want it to be this way BUT we are in a hole and it takes a whole lot of climbing to get out. Especially when someone keeps kicking you in the face.

        • Jennifer McHugh

          Wow. I feel sorry for you.

          • Stormy Alexandra Perez

            Don’t feel sorry for me. Definitely don’t need your sympathy.

        • bobcollum

          You were brought here on a ship? No kidding.

          Newsflash: All of those people that were brought here on a ship, and all of those responsible for it, from the Africans that abducted them, to the Europeans that purchased them, have been gone for a long, long time.

          If I’ve noticed one thing in life, it’s that the people who constantly blame everyone but themselves for their life’s misfortunes, be it white, black, asian, etc…all end where they began, nowhere.

          • Stormy Alexandra Perez

            NEWSFLASH: Oh, so because my ancestors are dead it doesn’t matter? Let’s tell that to Holocaust survivors while were at it. They should stop celebrating their heritage right? Or maybe they should just “get over it” when people commit crimes against them? Right?

            Another ignorant person. I can’t.

          • bobcollum

            You’re an embarrassment to your ancestors that actually had a tough life. If they could hear you crying now they’d slap you upside the head.

        • Mike

          No one who uses student loans can afford them…that’s why they’re loans. And that’s why so many people who used them take years to pay them off. White, black, Asian, it doesn’t matter what race you are, student loans are student loans. But again, your excuses are unfounded. The lower class has access to Pell Grants, which you don’t have to pay back.

          EVERYONE who came here or was brought here in the past had an uphill battle to fight to reach equal status with the established majority. The ONLY difference between them was their mindset. Some played victim and never improved their situation, while others were headstrong and worked to earn better status.

          There are a lot of blacks who have made it out of their birthed social class, so do not act like it’s anyone else’s fault that they never “got out” but the individuals who made poor life choices. No one makes people use drugs, drop of out school, get pregnant at 17, or whatever else is rampant in lower income areas. Stop blaming people and take charge.

          • Stormy Alexandra Perez

            Gosh your stupid/ignorant. Maybe I should just say ignorant. There’s a difference between being FORCED to come to a country AND WANTING to come to a country. That will probably go over your head too. Like I said my people/ancestors were forced to come here on ships (does that clarify the WHOLE ship argument?) That’s not an equal playing field. SO YEARS & YEARS of unequal treatment = INEQUALITY & Stripping of ones identity.

            Tell me how much education you can get off of a damn Pell Grant? Go ahead…I’ll wait.

            You don’t know me. I took charge and that’s why I work with inner city youth. Taking charge is also making ignorant people less ignorant.

          • Mike

            I addressed the whole “came here on their own vs forced” thing. Most people who came here were forced in some manner, whether it be famine (Irish), risk of persecution (Jewish), or a mix of overpopulation and poverty (Italians). The only difference, and I’ll grant you it’s bad, is that Africans were sold into slavery and brought here. However, that happened hundreds of years ago. Continually bringing it up as if white people today owe you something for it is ridiculous. Mine and many other’s ancestors weren’t even in this country during that time. And what about the Natives? If anyone got a raw deal back in the day it was them.

            Pell Grants give a maximum of $5,500 per school year, which around here is more than enough to attend a community college and earn an associate’s degree.

        • Ada L Lee


  • Darrell Battles

    This is happening in every major metropolitan on the east coast. In Boston Mass ! Roxbury was/still is a beautiful town rich in black culture. Painted murals, the Roxbury film festival, black owned businesses ,the annual Juneteenth gathering at franklin park, churches , schools and so on. Sadly though, were seeing it slowly disappear right before our very eyes. For centuries we’ve been perceived by other races as being savage, uneducated animals, but when I see white people walking up Warren st, waiting for a bus in Dudley station or getting a hair cut in Mattapan ( All predominately Black or people of color occupied areas ) I don’t see anyone throwing bottles at them, calling them racial slurs (out of passing cars ), police stopping them for no good or apparent reason. All of those things have happened (and still happen) in white neighborhoods in Boston today. If your a single person earning $15.30 an hour, you can forget about having your own apartment in Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Jamaica plain . Rents range anywhere from $1,500-$2,300 a month and that’s just rent ! There’s no rent cap here so there’s no stopping it. Were being pushed out ! Not physically but from a monitorial standpoint, we just can’t keep up and they know that. I’m not saying that there aren’t things we can do to improve our selves individually(Taking better care of our health, developing spiritually ,getting all of the education you can, paying our bills on time, resulting in better credit scores saving a little money, buying properties/real-estate, being more involved in town meetings and voting in officials that represent our neighborhoods) which in turn will persevere our culture and where we live. Lastly we gotta stop hatin’ on each other for no reason .
    See because without unity you cant spell community. I’m done .

    • Richard Buchanan

      How about unity among black folks, that will lift us out of the gutter.

      • Darrell Battles

        It sure will . Check out the last sentence in my paragraph .


    FYI, gentrification was addressed today on TheDailyRacistDOTcom .. Thank’s for the good timing Spike.

  • Momo

    He is complaining about neighborhoods being “taken over” for the better but I don’t hear him complaining about how the Bronx used to be clean and safe but was “taken over” by blacks and Latino people. This is called evolution or change over time. Sometimes a place goes up and sometimes it goes down, but you can not whine about it when you get “pushed out” for the more wealthy when you move in and push out OTHERS and then wreck their neighborhoods by bringing in drugs and crime and filth.

    • Stormy Alexandra Perez

      What? “taken over.” This is not evolution my dear. This is people moving into neighborhoods, just so they can look cool AND then trying to change something they never started. Typical behavior of privileged people. OBVIOUSLY you have no understanding of the plight of Latino’s or Blacks, because then you would understand WHY people commit crimes and produce this “filth” you talk about. BTW, did you live in these neighborhoods you speak of?

      • Mike

        No, it’s people moving into neighborhoods that are cheapest to get into and making it nicer. Your response is the typical nonsense that you’ve been taught to believe. The plight of blacks and Latinos is nothing different than the plight of my great grandparents when they arrived off the boat from Italy and were treated like garbage. Stop with the excuses, it’s what holds people back. No one makes neighborhoods dangerous and rundown-looking except the people who live there, end of story.

        • Mei

          except that blacks didn’t voluntarily come here like your grandparents, and latinos come to the united states to escape poor living conditions caused by colonialism and us cold war interference

          • Mike

            Would depend on how you see “voluntary.”

            Do you know why so many Italians left in the 19th and early 20th centuries? We’re talking about well over 10,000,000 Italians leaving over a span of roughly 60 years. – And they didn’t just come to the US, many went to Canada, C. America, S. America, and many other places, which is why you see so many Italian last names all over the world.

            Italians left for 4 main reasons:

            1. Overcrowding. Technology wasn’t to the point where their land, infrastructure, and economy could support them all, so there were all kinds of problems going on with overpopulation. Which lead to…

            2. Poverty. People were poor, especially in southern Italy and Sicily. These two regions lost more of their population to the diaspora than most others of the country, and are where many of our Italian-Americans claim their ancestry.

            3. Fascism. Seems like so many people forget that the Italian government allied with the Nazis in WWII. A lot of Italians saw the writing on the wall and left before things got ugly….

            4. Wars. World War I was rough, but WWII left the country in bad shape. People left.

            You can call these “voluntary” migrations, but I don’t think I would.

            This sort of misunderstanding is part of the problem. The poor minorities and the immigrants today think they’re special, like the people who went through this 100 years ago didn’t have to deal with what they do. And I’d agree, but probably with a much different outlook. Those old Italian immigrants, along with very harsh racism, had to deal with poorer working conditions, no minimum wage; less pay, and little-to-no government assistance. You can complain all you want, but the facts are, those people fought through it. Italians today are indistinguishable in status from the English, Germans, Irish, and others who were here before them. People today have it easy by comparison; they have every advantage, and yet so many do nothing to improve themselves.

    • Walter Thompson III

      @ Memo: And where do you think all the drugs come in from? How many black and Latino folks living in the ghetto control and or run international drug cartels? How many black and Latinos have it “going on enough” to pay law enforcement off to ignore certain activities and transactions. And finally how many black and Latinos have the power to laundry money in banks both wiithin and outside of the American Empire in order to control the drug sales and flow in places like the Bronx and other emerging cities for illegal drug business. So who is it really that brings in the crime and filth in American cities? I think people should only speak about what they know!

  • Richard Buchanan

    The same thing is happening in Downtown Los Angeles.

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