Entertainment

Spike Lee Defends Comments On NYC Gentrification

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Filmmaker Spike Lee is defending a profanity-laced rant about race and gentrification in New York City.

Lee spoke out Wednesday about his controversial remarks made during a speech at a Pratt Institute event for Black History Month Tuesday night.

He was asked by an audience member about the benefits of gentrification. Lee responded with a seven minute rant against gentrification in places like Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where he grew up.

“Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed,” he said at the event. “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?”

He added that gentrification has little regard for those who “have a culture that’s been laid down for generations.”

Wednesday night on “Anderson Cooper 360,” Lee talked about the speech, his remarks and what he says he meant.

“I don’t hate anybody,” he said. “My problem is that when you move into a neighborhood, have some respect for the history, for the culture.”

Actress Rosie Perez said Lee is right, but could have delivered the message in a different way.

“Because he articulated in such a rant, so it’s easy to dismiss it as Spike Lee being crazy,” she said. “But he does have a definite point.”

But there are those who point out that Lee himself hasn’t lived in Fort Green for a long time.

In fact, he has been living on the Upper East Side for years in a 9,000 square foot home. It was recently listed for $32 million.

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