The director went on a full seven-minute rant about how the once predominantly poor and African-American invested neighborhood had changed.
Spike Lee made his view on gentrification clear during an African-American History Month lecture at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute on Tuesday, February 25. The director launched expletive rant against the newcomer influx to his former neighborhood in New York.
"I grew up here in New York. It's changed," Lee said. "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 mother******g day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. PS 20 was not good. PS II. 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."
He went on explaining what he called "the mother******g Christopher Columbus Syndrome." He said, "You can't just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you're mother******g Columbus and kill off the Native Americans."
Responding to Lee's rant was Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. Moss noted how Brooklyn had changed for the better since its recovery in 2001.
"Cities don't stand still, and the cities that stand still are Detroit," Moss said as quoted by CNN. "So if Spike Lee wants to see a place where there is no gentrification, he'll also find a place where there are no investments. Obviously, he's someone who knows how to make a movie but doesn't know anything about cities."
He continued, "Brooklyn has become more attractive to more people. Of course, that means some people are going to have to find other places to live, but that's the magic of New York. We create new places. Today, Bushwick, which was an area that people were afraid to go to, now has some of the best restaurants in the city."