“We’re the only race that shoots and kills themselves.”
That’s a verbatim line from the first single taken from Spike Lee’s forthcoming Chi-Raq movie. Last week I wrote about the outcry from Chicago in response to the first trailer, which basically laid the movie out as a glorified Don’t Be A Menace set in Chicago. In that piece I talked about the fact that Lee’s movie might be misunderstood, but only he was to blame for that misunderstanding.
It hasn't been smooth sailing for the 58-year-old director as he’s rolled out the promotional train for his latest feature film and dropping Kevon Carter’s “WGDB” video yesterday didn’t exactly help matters.
That the excerpt above comes just after an odd reference to Bill Cosby’s recent issues only makes the whole thing a bit more confusing. Maybe Spike didn’t spend a lot of time in Chicago learning about the systemic issues that have dubbed it the "most segregated city in the world,” maybe he was blind to the fact that “84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites. In fact, all races share similar ratios.” Whatever the case, he’s continuing to miss the point as he approaches the release of the film via Amazon.
Had he looked a little closer he might have recognized issues like the “lack” of public housing the city is reporting while profiting off keeping the Lathrop Homes vacant, the projects being knocked down and dispersion of the populations to the city’s less enviable west and south sides, and the investment of millions of dollars into the city’s Loop and ritzy north side while food deserts persist across communities. These are just a few of the things that I think of when I think “We Gotta Do Better.”
Sure, it’s always admirable to own a situation, but what’s going on in Chicago is something that has been brewing almost as long as the city itself has existed.
The biggest point Spike misses is that no one from Chicago looks up to New York City. Those out east might think so, but you all can have your Macy’s and give us back Marshall Field's and stop pushing your agenda on what goes on here locally.
Mr. Lee, your satire isn’t the thing being ridiculed, it’s your disconnect with the city that you’re profiling.