Spike Lee Goes MENTAL About Brooklyn’s Gentrification
EVERY city in the world follows the same pattern. Deprived area is cheap. All the artists move there and it gets hip. Hipsters follow the artists and the rents go up. The rents go up alongside the appearance of coffee houses and falafel bars. Formerly deprived area now no longer considered scummy, gets filled with wealthy web-designers and their awful children and no-one who originally lived in the area can afford the rent and has to move. They move to another scummy area and the cycle continues.
We all know this. This is always the way. However, Spike Lee doesn’t like it one bit.
He grew up in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, but he doesn’t recognise it anymore. It was all fields when he was a lad.
He doesn’t like the newcomers now dossing around in his old stomping ground. So much so that he got a bit sweary when talking about it all at an African-American History Month lecture.
He said: “I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. 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? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfucking day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.”
Spike then told Anderson Cooper 360 that he’s not against new people moving into areas that were once poor and non-white: “My problem is that when you move into a neighbourhood, have some respect for the history, for the culture.
Lee also spat about: “Motherfucking Christopher Columbus Syndrome,” before giving examples of people playing drums in Mount Morris Park, a tradition that has been around 40 years until the new residents complained.
He continued, saying that his father, “a great jazz musician,” bought a brownstone 46 years ago; “And the motherfucking people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass. It’s acoustic. We bought the motherfucking house in 1968, and now you call the cops? In 2013?”
Lee went on to say that Fort Greene Park in the morning resembled the Westminster Dog Show thanks to “motherfucking hipsters” with hipster dogs and real estate brokers who had changed the names of neighbourhoods like the South Bronx to SoBro or Bushwick to East Williamsburg.
“So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!”
Of course, one could argue that Spike Lee’s 9,000-square-foot mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, currently on the market for $32 million is a huge factor in the gentrification of New York.
However, one thing is for certain: if working class families only get better schools just in time to be priced out of the neighbourhood, that’s a tremendously depressing thing.