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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:

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Spike Lee Unleashes Fiery Rant On Gentrification In New York [LISTEN] was originally published on

4 thoughts on “Spike Lee Unleashes Fiery Rant On Gentrification In New York [LISTEN]

  1. Gina on said:

    It’s happening everywhere. Here in DC, flippers are paying pennies for houses in neighborhoods that have been owned by blacks for years. Homes that were brought by young black couples who found someplace to raise their families on quiet streets. The children have grown; some children have moved away, others have maintained the home after the parents have died and some homes still have the original owners. Now the flippers are knocking on the door with a suitcase full of money to purchase these homes, they remodel the home cosmetically and resell 3 times more than what they paid for. And the money for which the original owner sold the house can’t even purchase a new house for the money.. Make these flippers pay for the location of the land and the potential sale they will make!

  2. L Butler on said:

    I agree with Spike on this one, except with less fire. The neighborhood has changed, and growing up there in the 80s I can recall everything he mentioned from the terrible schools to the lack of police presence to help versus harass. I used to love the drum jam sessions and block parties during the summer to celebrate our culture, but it has been squeezed out. I don’t see the same thing in Jewish communities that have been unchanged all our lives. What needs to happen is for us to work together in similar fashion to what those Jewish communities do, which basically is be willing to invest in ur community and keep the money working and growing in those areas.

    • tewdeeq on said:

      I remember too the Spike Lee / block parties. The only ones besides the whites allowed to invest in our communities are foreigners. We need to stop giving them our business in our communities, already. Stop passing up a black business, a black businessperson whose having to spend more money, that is the more money that they don’t have, hence, taking a risk to be there to go and save a few pennies at another one, the one or the ones that will and have never invested in our communities. All they will do is send it back to their own countries to invest only in themselves. How sad that this is happening.

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