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Two Sides Of The Gentrification Divide: Anthony Mackie Challenges Spike Lee's Tirade (Movie Rights?)

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by Natasha Greeves
March 3, 2014 7:58 PM
25 Comments
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There's a film to be made out of all this. Come to think of it, given how explosive a topic it has been and still is, how often is the subject of gentrification at the center of scripted feature films? Not documentaries (there are many of those), but scripted fiction. 

Surely there are those of us (black folks) who cheered in agreement with Spike Lee's profanity-laced diatribe on gentrification in Brooklyn, NY specifically, which went viral last week. And on the other side of that divide, there are also those of us (again, black folks), who will nod in accord with Anthony Mackie's thoughts.

Black people aren't a monolith, right? So this isn't an issue that one should automatically assume we all have the same opinion on.

I'd take both sides of that divide (and all the grey between), write something comprehensive, and see what develops in terms of a narrative that would make good fodder for a feature film.

But, I'm not here to agree or disagree with Spike in this post, but to share another take on the gentrification matter from another prominent black entertainer, Anthony Mackie, with a Brooklyn address, as he points out in the video that follows.

Anthony Mackie, who's been in this position before (remember his challenge to black folks in the entertainment industry to do for themselves, which caused a huge stir) has heard Spike's condemnation of gentrification, and he has his own thoughts on the matter, which, as you might guess, differ greatly from Spike's.

So, first, if you haven't heard it, here's audio of Spike's lengthy explosive critique; and after you listen to it, watch Mackie talk to The Grio, sharing his thoughts on what Spike had to say, as well as his own views on the issue at hand.


And here's Mackie talking with The Grio:


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25 Comments

  • Mike | July 13, 2014 5:58 PMReply

    Gentrification is not a race issue as much it is a class issue. This is happening in Hispanic/Latino and white communities as well. Why should African-Americans be any different than any other race. If a white neighborhood goes down hill because you have white trash moving in; you think the upper class whites are going to stay and want to invest? No! They are going to get up and move.

    As far as Anthony Mackie is concerned, he has his business to worry about which is why he is in favor of gentrification because it benefits him.

  • @JayTeeDee | March 5, 2014 4:18 PMReply

    So this means no She Hate Me sequel right?

  • D.A. | March 4, 2014 3:16 PMReply

    Since I don't feel the need to insult either man on this issue (Come on people, we can state our opinions without dissing Anthony or Spike), I'll say that I agree with the both of them. Spike points to a fact, it takes white interest in a city, district, town to encourage some kind of development. But is that a terrible thing? no, living in Atlanta, these new developments have brought more to do in he city. It's sad that it has to take white interest for that to happen, but it's something right?! And it's not totally inaccessible?!

    Currently, Atlanta has a development called Atlantic Station in West Midtown. The main complaint from intowners is that AS is none more than a fancy outdoor shopping mall with apts. (Even though that shopping mall has local office space, a grocery store, local chef-driven restaurants and Target...... it got it right after a while) but they are mad that it's even there. Do you know what it was before that?

    A rundown eye-sore that once was a steel mill.

    I'm not implying that Brooklyn's original residents are trash or worthless, I'm saying that what's going on there now can't be that bad of a thing. Mackie does have a good point, Spike DOESN'T LIVE IN BROOKLYN, however Spike's Dad (the great Jazz Musician) Bill Lee STILL LIVES IN BROOKLYN. I understand it's his hometown, it's close to his heart. But it means nothing if he looks at it from a distance and hasn't lived there long enough to experience it's transition. Besides, Brooklyn wasn't always entirely a bad town as some make it out to be. Remmeber, the Cosby's knew what was real in Brooklyn Heights before we even knew what was real (yes, they are fictional, but it didn't take away from the fact that Brooklyn always had it's good parts). As far as I'm concerned, Anthony is coming from a place of progress, and progress can be good or bad depending on the outcome. I don't feel the need to insult him because he has a valid viewpoint.

  • Rocket | March 5, 2014 11:59 AM

    Amanda,

    I don't think its as simple wealthy/upper class blacks up and left. Those communities were ignored by people with the purse strings in government. The proof of this is how fast the money flows to those communities now that they are gentrifying. When those communities were ignored and allowed to decay those who could afford to leave did. Should more have stayed? Yes. But its easy to say that when its not your children dodging bullets to get to school. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    Look at everything that's been happening on the South Side of Chicago over the last few years. Would you blame a black family for moving? At what point does trying to invest in the community become a losing proposition? I don't think people should up and leave their communities. But it is a very complex issue.
    .

  • Amanda | March 4, 2014 3:47 PM

    I agree - Spike does not live in Brooklyn. One of the reasons gentrification keeps happening to the black community is because ever since desegregation wealthy blacks, upper/middle class blacks up and left those communities. They did not invest in those communities. There comes a point and time when black people will have to examine the issue holistically. This is the same issue in DC. Black people had this area and the middle class chose to go to the suburbs rather than rebuild the inner city. As annoying and disturbing as gentrification is, the reality is many black people of means chose to invest elsewhere.

  • artbizzy | March 4, 2014 3:41 PM

    Anthony Mackie's views on the gentrification of Brooklyn are insulting and willfully ignorant. Spike Lee knows more about what's happening in Brooklyn than Anthony Mackie will ever admit to. It's not where ya from on these issues but where ya at--- inside your head. So what it was Spike Lee who said it? His statement could have come from anybody. Spike is using his privilege and visibility to shed a light on an epidemic of gentrification. Most wealthy people such as your Two Brooklyn Restaurant owning homie, Anthony Mackie ain't gonna speak out about it. He might lose customers after all. That eye-sore of a steel mill in Atlanta could have been turned into affordable housing, a community center, a nursing home, a theater. What's "Progress" anyway? One person's vision of "Progress" may be another person's inevitable displacement from their community. Progress for many people in this country is being able to afford their rent, find decent jobs and affordable access to top-notch health care, fitness, a well-rounded education and feeling valued and appreciated in their community.

  • Furtgo | March 4, 2014 12:45 PMReply

    Don't care the color; it's the attitude.
    Be nice to the old neighbors, especially the ones who expect to get a "good morning" in return. Don't act as if the neighborhood never existed, was worth nothing, and never mattered in the world until move-in day. Don't think that new children deserve more than others. Don't make complaints about annual traditions, ie block parties, ethnic parades that were charming before move-in day but now are noisy, smelly, go on for too long.

    What to do instead:
    Ask neighbors — yes, speak to them— if services are needed before making changes or bringing corny stuff to the neighborhood. Thank the police, but ask them why they never responded to older residents' issues before move-in day. Don't assume everyone else is on public assistance. Those old folks own their homes and retired from something interesting. They may even have second homes somewhere very nice…

  • Bforreal | March 4, 2014 2:04 PM

    Thank you! Exactly, and this is what Mackie misses.

  • Miles Maker | March 4, 2014 11:08 AMReply

    With businesses in the balance, Mackie's on the other side of the conflict. His restaurants sustain and thrive as a direct result of the influx of gentrifiers with disposable income to burn on his stove top.

    We need solutions. Communities evolve over time without worry or regret for those who built them, nurtured families, established cultural norms and fell victim to crimonomic erosion and downfall before they're rebuilt anew.

    I'm just wondering what happens when all THE HELP lives too far away from Manhattan to serve these happy-go-lucky lifestyle vampires.

  • Nichola | March 4, 2014 10:03 AMReply

    I love Spike and you can hear his passion

  • Deon | March 4, 2014 1:02 AMReply

    As far as I remember, doesnt Native Americans still own this land? Wasn't it taken away from them? Even Black people live better than Native Americans and we have the nerve to complain about gentrification.

  • BluTopaz | March 4, 2014 2:13 PM

    And Native Americans don't care about your black ass. Next.

  • slb | March 4, 2014 10:39 AM

    Well that's a straw man argument if I've heard one. Bravo.

  • lewis payton | March 4, 2014 12:32 AMReply

    I wish that black entertainers would all keep their mouths closed for a second. Spike has a genuine point, although he could have framed it better. Jackie has a point to but he should realize that he is NOT Spike but just an actor trying to keep his job in his mostly white supported world. Both should shut up and keep this mess to themselves! Really?!

  • stp | March 3, 2014 10:53 PMReply

    I have some time to post since Repentance was sold out. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Peggy | March 3, 2014 10:42 PMReply

    Anthony Mackie is such an Uncle Tom it's not even worth commenting on. The dude keeps getting second billing to the white folks in all their movies so he's not about to rock the boat. And if you need further evidence, the dude is always kissing up to the whitest black woman on TV Hoda Kotb and the Whitest woman for real, Kathy Lee.

  • thelildiva4u | March 3, 2014 10:08 PMReply

    I'm liking him less more and more.

  • thelildiva4u | March 3, 2014 10:09 PM

    sorry it should read less and less!

  • Bforreal | March 3, 2014 10:04 PMReply

    Wow. I am always disheartened by the b.s. that flies out of Mackie's mouth. But he hit a new low with this one.

  • Bforreal | March 4, 2014 9:16 PM

    :) "Spews" would've been appropriate.

  • JustSayin | March 4, 2014 4:44 PM

    @BFORREAL -- the correct spelling of the word is "flys" not bugs. Better yet you should have used the word "filter" or "spews" from ..."

  • artbizzy | March 3, 2014 9:49 PMReply

    Woah, Anthony Mackie? C'mon man, are you serious? You're playing a heartless gentrifying so and so in a movie, right and this was footage of your rehearsal? And ain't you from New Orleans? Please...

  • mark w | March 3, 2014 8:56 PMReply

    Spike's never going to win a white-folks-Oscar with that attitude. And he knows he wants one.

  • BrownBlk | March 3, 2014 8:39 PMReply

    Mr. Mackie has said some questionable things before. C'mon black people, it's not that big of a deal, type of comments. I guess when your income increases, your view of things gets "lighter".

  • slb | March 3, 2014 8:18 PMReply

    I'm surprised to hear Anthony Mackie's comments on the issue. The displacement he's talking about IS gentrification. When the poorer people are being pushed further and further away from the city center. I figured he would be more understanding considering he's a New Orleans native and I'm sure they struggled with the issue post-Katrina.

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