Lee was a guest lecturer at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for an African American History Month event, blocks away from his father’s home and his company headquarters. Decked out in gear representing New York and his borough, Lee was asked by an audience member about gentrification’s benefits to which he responded in colorful fashion. NY Mag transcribed much of the lecture, and Lee didn’t mince any words for his seven-minute rant.
From NY Mag:
Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. 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 motherf*ckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. 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.
Then comes the motherf*ckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherf*ckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud.
Lee continued to rail against the gentrifying of New York, mentioning his jazz musician father purchasing a home in 1968 and finding that his new White neighbors are now complaining of noise. Lee also gives real estate developers the business, criticizing the new neighborhood names and the pricing out of people who can no longer afford the rent.
Listen to the the entire rant captured by the Daily Intelligencer below: