Spike Lee’s epic rant: people can’t afford ‘motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters’

spike-lee

Spike Lee is really upset about gentrification. When asked last night at Pratt about recent articles in the Times and New York (the latter asks Is Gentrification All Bad?), Lee had plenty to say. You know it’s going to get tense when he opens with “Let me just kill you right now.” Highlights below:

On white moms in gentrified nabes:

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 motherfuckin’ 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.

On hipsters and people not being able to afford rent:

And then! [to audience member] Whoa whoa whoa. And then! So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word? [Audience: East Williamsburg]

That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

And we had the crystal ball, motherfuckin’ Do the Right Thing with John Savage’s character, when he rolled his bike over Buggin’ Out’s sneaker. I wrote that script in 1988. He was the first one. How you walking around Brooklyn with a Larry Bird jersey on? You can’t do that. Not in Bed Stuy.

Listen to the whole thing here. [via Gothamist and NY Mag]

Comments

  1. “So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word?”

    Wait. So white hipsters aren’t people?
    huh.
    That explains soooo much!

  2. He dresses like a 12 year old boy.

  3. So does this mean he’s going to sell his now-worth-millions brownstone for a nice, reasonable pre-gentrification price?

    Yeah, thought not.

  4. “because of motherfuckin’ hipsters” is a ridiculous statement. first of all, because it is an undefined term. you can’t blame something on a group of people that nobody has the same definition for. secondly, because it’s racist. it implies that all hipsters are white. sure, they are the majority, but i personally know some black people that many would classify as hipsters. thirdly, because it takes the focus off the real problem. money. gentrification, despite public perception, is about wealth, not race. it’s possible that a few white people miss the drums in fort greene. it’s possible that some black yuppies live in williamsburg condos. the real blame should be put on politicians like bloomberg, who change zoning laws, bank-funded developers who destroy communities, and the rich assholes who move in to these buildings. they aren’t hipsters. don’t ‘fuck the white.’ ‘fuck the rich.’

    • Hi,

      I’m a Bed-Stuy native born in Williamsburg, raised in Bed-Stuy for over 20yrs & a Boys & Girls alumni. A few years back we sold our landmark brownstone on Stuyvestant Ave. & McDonough & relocated to another home our family owned in Crown Heights (which also now has a new name!). I just wanted to comment on the fact that I think you’re right. While we as a collective body of neighbors, New Yorkers, & Americans clearly have racial tensions and issues that we still need to heal from & together work through with patience and understanding (for clearly understood reasons considering our American/slave trade history)…the real issue is not black, white, asian, hasidic, or any other race we’d chose to point the finger at; rather the true silent shakers of our communities…bankers, politicians, & the rich backing these interest groups with their financial resources to shift the paradigm and face of New York…and America period for that matter–while we stand by and argue with each other. It’s all smoke & mirrors if we don’t move pass our bias and prejudices to get to the real heart of the matter.

  5. kevinizon says:

    I can understand Spike Lee’s frustration — if you’re not from New York you have no understanding or interest on this issue. The issue is, when they rezone and “make better” an area, it really affects the people who have a steady, just-surviving income. Often those are working class, and especially people of color who are powerlesss in affecting the process.

    They are rebuilding the area by Shea Stadium. Great. But the are will be so nice and bustling, it will afect the property values of neighboring Corona. And those people who are working-class, are going to find their landlords deciding hey, this now-desirable area is workth more more more. Etc. So suddenly people in Corona will find themselves having to move to…. where.

    Spike Lee speaks with insane rage and vitriol, but he’s ranting from a true frusttraion. I’m glad he spoke up. Most people just accept this all as it is. I call it being Bloomberged. And I don’t like it either.

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