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Friday, February 28, 2014

Spike Lee Needs to Do The Right Thing & Shut the Fuck Up

Recently Director Spike Lee said he returned to his Brooklyn neighborhood and was upset that it was “gentrified”.

Here’s a question for Spike: Why didn’t you buy property in your own neighborhood and put businesses there 25 years ago with the money from all your movies?

I find it funny how Spike has no problem spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Season tickets for the New York Knicks but won’t spend a dime to invest in building businesses in his own neighborhood.

Black people like Spike Lee love to complain about how White people spend money buying up their inner-city neighborhoods but never have a plan for building them themselves. Spike Lee can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with White billionaires like the Dolans, buying tickets for New York Knicks basketball games but won’t put a dime in his own neighborhood.

Over twenty-five years ago when Spike was making money from all his movies like Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and Crooklyn he had an opportunity to buy property in his Brooklyn neighborhood for CHEAP with his own money. It was the height of the crack epidemic and there was abandoned property everywhere. What did Spike spend his money on?

Front row Season tickets for the New York Knicks.

During the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s money began flowing through the Black community. Money from City Jobs. Money Money from factory Jobs. Money from the Phone company. Money from the NBA. Money from Hollywood. Money from the Rap game. Money from Food Stamps. Money from Welfare. And money from the drug game.

But instead of spending those billions of dollars on building up the Black community, Black people spent their money partying and having a good time. Black folks had the money to buy their own buildings. To buy their own homes. And they had the money to open their own businesses.

But instead of doing the hard work Black folks from Spike’s generation whined and complained about Redlining and Reganomics. The truth is they just didn’t want to do the WORK of building a ghetto into a Black community. Building a community required patience, hard, work and most of all SACRIFICE. And too many baby boomers like Spike were just too DAMN SELFISH to make the SACRIFICES to turn places like Fort Greene and Harlem into Black communities for Black people to live and work in.

While Jews, Arabs and Italians were buying the buildings and the property in the neighborhoods Black folks lived in, Guys from Spike Lee’s generation were too busy buying big screen TVs, rack stereos, VCRs, leather jackets gold chains, cars, sneakers, 2-piece Chicken dinners and trying to impress light skinned and Puerto Rican big butt women at the club. Too busy showing off and living ghetto fabulous to think about participating in group economics and investing in building their own communities.

Ever since I was a 10-year-old kid in 1983 I wanted to buy the apartment building I lived in. Why? Because I understood OWNING THE PROPERTY meant I had a SAY over what went into it. That’s why I made a promise to myself that one day I would own 3430 Park Avenue in the Bronx. I still haven’t achieved that goal yet, but I’d love to do it one day.

Why? Because at that young age I knew that PROPERTY OWNERSHIP meant CONTROL over a community from watching various TV shows and reading articles in the newspaper.

I find it sad a 10-year-old kid can figure this out but Spike Lee can’t. You want to stop Gentrification OWN THE PROPERTY. Then Participate in Group Economics with the other property owners to keep money in the community.

Here’s how Jews on the Upper East Side stop Gentrification on the Upper East Side of Manhattan: THEY OWN THE PROPERTY. Here’s how WASPS stop Gentrification on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: THEY OWN THE PROPERTY. Here’s how Italians in Little Italy stopped Gentrification in the Bronx: THEY OWN THE PROPERTY. Here’s how Koreans in Flushing Queens stop Gentrification: THEY OWN THE PROPERTY. Here’s how Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights Brooklyn stop Gentrification in their neighborhoods: THEY OWN THE PROPERTY.

Most of the owners of the property in those communities have wealth from the property they own. That wealth gives them political power to buy seats at local community boards. It gives them the ear of City Councilmen who make zoning laws. They use the economic power of the wealth they amass from group economics to get political power.

People who own property have a say over what goes in their community. If they want to rent to high-end businesses to make REVENUE from the property they OWN they can. If they want to rent to local businesses they can. They own the property. They have a say over what is BUILT in those communities.

Spike Lee could have followed the model that every other community owner has to stop gentrification by OWNING THE PROPERTY in HIS BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOOD.

But he’d rather spend his money on Knicks Tickets.

Seriously, Do any Black people own any property in Harlem? Fort Greene? Bed Stuy? Harlem? NO.  But Black people like Spike Lee want a say over what goes in those neighborhoods.

 I’m sorry it doesn’t work that way in the business world. And Black people need to understand this. You can’t tell a business owner what to do with their property. You can’t tell a business owner to NOT MAKE MONEY because YOU ARE TOO STUPID to MAKE YOUR OWN.

The Renter does not have a say over what happens to a property. No, the OWNER has a say over what happens to it. And because Black people don’t own property in the neighborhoods they RENT in, they can only watch as the neighborhoods they live in gets gentrified by property owners looking to maximize their revenue.

If Spike Lee wanted to keep the White Hipsters and artsy typed White folks out of Fort Greene, he should have been buying the buildings in his neighborhood in 1988 when it was a wasteland and renting them out to Black people. He should have been buying franchises like McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts and KFC and hiring and training Black people to work in his neighborhood and laying the foundation for a Group Economic mindset. Establishing a community that had the economic and political power to build a Black community, not just a neighborhood where Black people live.

But People like Spike Lee would rather spend money on Season tickets for the New York Knicks than BUILD a Black community. It’s more of a priority to him to give a White billionaire like James Dolan money he could have invested in his own community, then go on a public forum and complain about the state of his pathetic community.

I’m sorry but this shuck and jive Blame and Shame game is PLAYED OUT. There is no such thing as gentrification. BLACK FOLKS FUCKED UP ON THE JOB. And they keep FUCKING UP ON THE JOB.

Black folks over the lat 40 years BLEW ALL their money on consumer bullshit like cars, shoes, and 2-piece chicken dinners instead of investing their money in building a Black community. Who’s fault is it that they don’t own anything but the Troop Jacket on their backs?

Every American ethnic group except modern day Black people has worked towards saving its money towards buying homes and property. Using the equity in those homes as the capital towards building businesses and participating in group economics to keep money flowing into their businesses. Understanding Economic power is the only way to get political power. And political power is how you keep a neighborhood a strong community.

I find it sad that a Mexican, African an Indian or an Arab who has only been in America for less than five years gets this, but dumbass Negroes like Spike Lee born and raised here STILL don’t. They still play the old co-dependent Liberal Blame & Shame game hoping to get some crumbs from the Master’s table instead of taking the resources in their communities and making their own cakes and selling them to the people in their own communities.

Black people are the only people in the world who spend 97% of their money with nonblack businesses and expect to have a say at the table when those businesses make decisions regarding the communities they live in.

Instead of Complaining Spike Lee needs to Do the Right Thing and Shut the fuck up. He had an opportunity to help build a strong Black community back in the 1980s and the 1990s but instead sat on his ass and waited for someone else to do it. If he wants to be mad at someone about the state of his “gentrified” Brooklyn neighborhood he needs to take a look in the mirror at the person who fucked up on the job.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great commentary, Shawn however I never considered Spike. "Native" per se seing he's originally from Georgia and only moved there because he had no choice but that's just a nitpick on my part. He's been there long enough to know the state of his neighborhood to do something about it and for whatever reason did not. That being said, that doesn't dilute the message you've expounded on the lack of ignorance with blacks when it pertains to Economics 101.

  3. "Lack of knowledge" I meant. Sorry. Trying to type fast from my cell & messing up royally.

  4. What have you done Shawn to uplift your community?. That's like the pot calling the kettle black?. Why haven't you bought the apartment you lived in or currently live in?. You disassociate yourself by saying black people in the Bronx don't buy property, and Black people don't buy where they live, as if you have. Well I got news for you, the world is so much bigger than the Bronx that you call home, and trust me there are millions of black people in America, alone that have bought property, not to mention in other parts of the world. Why don't you use common economic sense?. I have researched the cost of property with and without structures on the land in NYC, and the cost is out of reach for most people with a little above average income, don't even think about it if you working class or lower income. I have above average income, and it is still too expensive to spend my money on. Yeah, I know Spike Lee is very, very above average income, and can probably buy almost anything he wants, and who said he did not buy property in his old neighborhood?. Gentrification and one individual buying some property and even multiple pieces of property has nothing to do with the other.

  5. I read this piece again. You have done NOTHING!!!. You have not bought property to rent out to other black people. You have not created jobs and business enterprises to give people a chance to better themselves. You don't even own the apartment you live in, so how can you point the finger of blame and shame at others?. Just remember the old saying, when you point a finger at others, there are four more pointing back at you.

  6. Mike that's my point. He's been in Brooklyn for over 25 years. he's filmed dozens of movies there. He even had a 40 acres and a mule store there. But he did not think to buy 40 acres when he was there all that time.

    But you saw him courtside at Madison square Garden cheering on the New York Knicks.

    Anonymous, it's clear you're just here to argue.

    Back in the 1990's when Spike was making his movies property in NYC was DIRT CHEAP. Brownstones went for $20,000.

    I would have bought my old buiding, but well, I was in HIGH SCHOOL at time.

    What am I doing now? trying to build a publishing business so I can buy property. Weath building takes time and I'm just starting to lay the foundation.

    1. I remember as a kid that there were certain neighborhoods in The Bronx or Brooklyn that you pretty much scoop up properties for a pack of cigarettes

    2. Figuratively speaking of course. Even filmmaker Woody Allen makes the brunt of his fortune from real estate. His films are usually not big money makers. He bought cheap back in the 70s/80s so there's no telling what his investments are worth now.

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  8. I am in the process of trying to create jobs. What is my fundraising project about? Creating a JOB for an artist. I started out in the game late, and I'm trying to make up for lost time.

    Now onto gentrification. Black people don't have an VISION which is why they don't build anything in their communities.

    Again, Spike with his extra average income had 25 years to help turn his Brooklyn neighborhood around and he did NOTHING but give his money to James Dolan and Madison Square Garden. You can't complain about gentrification when you've been FUCKING UP ON THE JOB.

  9. What's really sad was that Spike made the Malcolm X movie. Your whole post was what Malcolm was talking about in the NOI and was the same message after he left the NOI. I figured a while back that guys like Spike and Russell Simmons weren't built for grown folks business.


  10. First of all Shawn, don't be foolish, you know I am talking about the apartment you are living in right now. I am buying the home I am living in right now. In fact this is the third home we have owned. I am not here to argue, but point out that until you have done better, then don't poibt the finger of blame at others. Mike and Vic, just in case you have not realized it, he is talking about you as well, unless of course you are not Black, and if you are Black you own property. If you want to call getting someone to do artwork for your book, providing a job, then you go right ahead. Never mind you are begging other people for money in which to pay for this artist. Yes, I know it takes time to build wealth, but until you actually do it, don't preach to others about how it should be done. Because right now, you are just a man on a soapbox.

  11. Mike, you must have been in NYC in the 80s like I was. Yep, entire neighborhoods were goinig for a pack
    of cigarettes. I remember when Ed Koch was selling buildings and land for $1. Did not know that Woody Allen made his money that way, but it pretty much makes sense. with property being cheap and Real estate going though the roof over the last 25 years he has some serious wealth now. That's what Black people could have had if they were smart.

    Vic, That is sad. It's like Spike didn't didn't understand Malcolm's message. He told Malcolm's story, but never applied any of the concepts Malcolm taught. I see Malcolm's approaches working for everyone but Black people. When you own the property you have the foundation for buiding wealth.

    Anonymous, I don't want this building I'm in right now. it's HUGE and the maintenence and taxes on it would be out of my price range if I bought my first property. Moreover, The neighbrohood is mostly Hispanic and there's no way for me to form business alliances that benefit my community or allow me to give brothers and sisters jobs. 3430 Park Avenue was where I lived as a child and it's a great little building in a Black community with low taxes and affordable maintenence. I'm starting small before going big.

    Now I've read through your deflections, and shaming tactics. I'm not talking about Mike or Vic, I have clearly addressed each individual in the comments section, but It's clear to me you don't want to discuss the topic of Spike Lee. What you want to do is shut down the discussion about the issue of What Black people like Spike Lee could have done during the 1980s and 1990s to prevent the gentrification of Harlem.

    It's clear to me you're one of these individualst Blacks who doesn't think of the next man behind you.

    Yes, you have YOUR HOME. But you need to understand that everyone isn't YOU. My Point with this blog was that Spike complains about gentrification but spends his money on Knicks tickets.

    Your Man on a soapbox argument is a straw man argument. Mr. Spike Lee himself fundraised on Kickstarter to finance a film project a few months ago, Why can't I fundraise to hire an artist for a cover? You can't have it both ways.

    1. Yeah, Shawn; I'm "native" born and bred unlike Spike. Brooklyn Heights before my parents moved out to Jamaica, Queens. When I left NY, it was for better job opportunities and better climate seeing I was highly bronchial. Still have family there but many cousins of mine moved out west and there are MANY New York transplants down south for various reasons. I meet 1 or 2 different people on a weekly basis and toss the jargon back and forth. In hindsight, I think the reason this practice hasn't been coveted by many blacks back then was for a lack of education. Back then, NYC was a different beast and many of us were just trying to survive. When drug dealers were seen as the template for success for many poverty-stricken youths, joining gangs just for self-preservation and the sense of belonging to something as a supplement to broken homes and the shitty politics that kept our demographic at arms length.

  12. Not trying to tell you what to do, you're your own man but you'd be surprised at what opportunities that might present themselves to you if you ventured out some. With your qualifications, you just may love the change of scenery, make your mark and then return the prodigal son to invest in your neighborhood. Just a suggestion, no malice intended.

  13. Mike, that's what my older brother's been telling me and we're 9 years apart. At the age of 50, he now looks back at how the baby boomers from his generation got caught up in the drug game and the flash of the rap game, the drug game and he regrets a lot of the decisions he made. He didn't go back to college until the 1990's and is just starting to see what I talked about here in this blog.

    I grew up in an age of The Cosby Show and Tony Brown's Journal on PBS. I Learned about economics early on and learned about business early on. Education has always been a part of my life; I've always read on my own. That could be how I see things from a more business-oriented perspective.

  14. Mr.James, you took the words right out of my mouth!

  15. Yes I've seen quite a lot of the black plight through my older baby boomer siblings from what they and their peers had to endure; I'm an X'er but that didn't leave me and others to go unscathed. And even back then there were brothas and sistas with their head on straight, unified and strapped with a positive objective. Some made it through the strainer, some didn't. It is what it is. There are just too many variables to consider for each black individual for any of us to make sweeping statements and I'm just trying to be fair here. I think that in these current times there is a bevy of information for those to access if they choose to. It's going to take a conscious and collective faction to show those that are downtrodden that there is a better way. Books and internet alone cannot do that. There is something insidiously systematic going on with our people to keep them in their complacent slumber. That's not to discount that we have to take responsibility for our actions but...still.

  16. And when I say that it's going to take a conscious and collective faction to inspire the masses, I was referring to non-sellouts and NON-COONS. I'm sure they're out there...

  17. No malice taken Mike. You may have a point I've lived here in NYC all my life,and I've only been out of the city once in 14 years, when I went to DC to do orientation for Americorps. Have to admit I enjoyed that trip and I learned a lot about myself.

  18. Truer words have never been spoken Mr. James.
    I remember when Spike Lee was complaining about Django Unchained and Quentin Tarantino. I just SMH and thought "why not make your own movies about slavery, rebellions and whatever?"

    You are also right about Continental Africans understanding that owning land and building businesses stops gentrification.
    Ever heard of Le Petit Sénégal, or Little Senegal?

  19. I read the Spike Lee full article and heard the speech he did about the issue of gentrification. What I heard him to be most upset about was people who did not live there in the past, wanting to move in and change the entire flavor of the neighborhood. He talked about how an event that had been taking place for 40 years, was no longer allowed to take place because the newbies were concerned about the noise. He talked about how people wanted to have a memorial event for Michael Jackson and were not allowed to do so, because the new folks were concerned about the type of people that such an event would draw. He also, talked about how streets such as Bushwick, were now other names, when they had been something else for many, many years, and why is that...because the new people do not want to be associated with Bushwick. He also, talked about suddenly, because white people now live in his old neighborhood, suddenly trash is picked up on a regular basis, schools are better, etc., and that should upset you. He's right, why did it take white people moving in before these things happened? Don't little Black children deserve to have good schools as well? Don't black people deserve to live in streets that are not strewn with garbage? Why does this not make you upset? Incidentally, you do not have to own property in a neighborhood to come out and speak out on what is happening in your neighborhood, you just have to have a vested interest, i.e. you live there, you pay taxes there, you have a business there. It does not hurt if you own your property, but it is not a guaranteed protection either. Watch the documentary 'Flag Wars' to see evidence of this. Also, Spike Lee and Russell Simmons both currently own or used to own property in New York. Why would they not? Spike employs Black people in his films, in his production company, in his non-profit. He provides scholarships and supports other nonprofit agencies that are vested in seeing Black people succeed. You ask why did he not provide jobs for black people in his old neighborhood, how do you know he did not? How do you know that some of those very same people that are employed with him, are not some of the people that grew up in his hood? So your statement about him spending his money ONLY on Knicks tickets is unfounded.


  20. Sharon:

    Here's the deal: Spike could have gotten those things from politicians by going to the community board meetings, and to the schools. But he moved out of Brooklyn and headed to Manhattan. Abandoning the very neighborhood that started his film career

    White people do things like go to community board meetings and school board meetings. That's why they get garbage picked up and better schools. They demand services from their school boards. They know who their city councilperson is and demand services from them and don't take excuses until they get services.

    Black people just vote straight up and down the Democratic ticket and don't demand shit from anyone in political or public office or hold them accountable like White people do.

    When do we see Black people at a School board meeting? When do we see Black people at a community board meeting? How many Negroes know who their city councilman is?

    The answer is ZERO. Because Negroes spend more time SHOPPING than serving their communities.

    Spike and Hustle Simmons actually own property in New Yourk? that actually reinforces the point in my argument. So he's actually profiting off this "gentrification"!

    Your excuses don't wash. Spike lives in Manhattan, is front Row at Knick games Giving James Dolan his money then complains about a gentrified Brooklyn as he takes his $30 million to the bank while holding his hat in hand begging for crumbs from the White Liberal's table.

  21. The old shuck N' Jive Blame N' Shame game perfected by Al Sharloton, and other pet negroes.

  22. I read that he owned property at one point in Fort Greene. Also, are you saying he should have stayed in Brooklyn, just to be able to help other folks?. Also, I mentioned all the ways he is giving back, doesn't that mean something?. Are you saying that only people who go to council and board meetings should get consistent and efficient refuse collection?. Isn't that a service provided by the city, for the residents and business owners, so by virtue of people paying taxes, wouldn't they be entitled to expect the city to do its job?. I know a lot of Black people who sit in on townhall meetings, and school board meeting and planning commission meetings, so your generalization about that topic is false. There are many Black people who volunteer and give back...I am one of them. When I lived in D.C., some of my most faithful volunteers were black folks who at one point in their lives were down on their luck, and when they got on their feet, many, not all, came back to help us, and it was not just for a tax write off like a lot of white people do. I have worked in various social services, paid and unpaid, and just as sure as shit, the white folks helped came to a halt as soon as tax season was over. Another thing, whenever we had financial or in-kind donations the white people always, and I mean ALWAYS, wanted to complete the IRS, tax write off form, whereas the BLACK folks always and I mean ALWAYS, said it wouldn't be giving if they got something back. So Black people do give back to the community. Again, Spike was upset about how the neighborhood traditions were eroded because the new folks didnt want to be bothered, he said he did not have an issue with people buying what they wanted, where they wanted, but his issue is with them wanting to change the flavor of the community as if somehow these things were inferior. I believe he bought and sold his homd in Fort Greene, or Brooklyn before the major influx of white people. He is saying why is a community that has been home to thousands of Black people was worthless, when it was just us there, but now it is prime real estate because white people suddenly get it?. Finally, why do you make such sweeping generalizations about Black people?. Isn't that just as destructive as saying all black men steal, or all black people are lazy?. All races, creed, ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, and both sexes have good and bad, have lazy slobs, have theives, etc., etc. Sharon

  23. Obviously you just don't get it.
    And you keep deflecting and avoiding the point to make excuses for Spike Lee.

    Who's responsibility was it to make sure the Black community's traditions were kept up? BLACK PEOPLE. Who were supposed to take care of their neighborhood? THE BLACK PEOPLE WHO LIVED THERE. If their traditions got eroded it was because the Negroes allowed it to happen.

    San Genaro goes on in Italian neighborhoods and St. Patrick's Day goes on in Irish neighborhoods. The people there own the property, demand the services and maintain their culture.

    Fort Greene could have been prime real estate had the Negro valued his own community. But because the Negro only values what a WHITE person values, they don't see what something is worth until a White person validates its value.