Back in February one of my favorite film directors, Spike Lee redefined the word rant. Prior to his speech at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn we have been consumed with indecent rants from our beloved Kanye West. However, Mr. Lee who has produced over 35 films since 1983 which focused on issues of race, crime, poverty and gentrification; his speech reminded us who the original mad-man genius is. Yeezus, who?
Gentrification is a serious concern of many predominantly African-American/Latino neighborhoods. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, gentrification is the shifting of a neighborhood from urban to wealthy, luxury businesses and real estate to increase property value and tourism. But also displaces minorities who occupied that area. Spike Lee is concerned for Brooklyn, he has become a huge advocate against the gentrification of Brooklyn, primarily Bedford-Stuyvesant, also known as “Bed-Stuy, do or die”. Wealthy investors ‘discover’ potential in an area that is impoverished and try to ‘take over’ it as if there isn’t a culture of generations already in place. Spike Lee said in his rant, “You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherf******’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people”.
It happens everywhere, hell, it has happened all over Rhode Island. The Fox Point area which is famously known for their diverse ethnic, trendy and health conscious restaurants, apartments that no one can actually afford and ‘hipsters’ everywhere! A few decades ago, that same area was built and occupied by generations of Cape Verdeans who settled from the Islands of Cape Verde. There were Social clubs, boys & girls clubs, businesses ran and owned by Cape Verdeans. Gentrification hit them especially hard, displacing families and literally breaking up and separating a community of working immigrants all to build a new high way and expand Brown University? Their monthly rent was raised, no longer affordable and their home away from home was taken right from under them.
Anyway, this video brought to use by CollegeHumor.com redefines the term ‘Christopher Columbus syndrome’ which was posed in Spike Lee’s speech, in a comical and much simpler way to understand just how gentrification and ‘Columbusing’ works.