Spike Lee’s gentrification rant : “Fort Greene park is like the Westminster dog show”
More than perhaps any other film-maker, Spike Lee has made urban issues his bread and butter. His appearance at a black history month event at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn saw him rage against an audience member trying to argue for the benefits of gentrification, a process he called “Christopher Columbus syndrome” and accusing wealthier new arrivals of disrespecting the culture of the predominantly black areas that have been his stomping ground – such as changing neighbourhood names, cancelling a Michael Jackson tribute because of fears black people would make too much mess, or clamping down on the African drum sessions held in Mount Morris park for 40 years – Lee got a warm reception from the crowd.
“I don’t see a lot of good coming from gentrification for the people living in those neighbourhoods. We got a new neighbourhood in the South Bronx now, what do we call it? What? SoBro. It’s a scam! It’s shenanigans, trickery, people being bamboozled, leather string, run a-muck. “