The Root Interview: Spike Lee, Part Two

The director talks about a missed opportunity with David Simon’s Treme, gentrification and why so many black politicians are in trouble right now.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The Root caught up with Spike Lee at his temporary offices in New Orleans, where he is filming his latest documentary, If God Is Willing and The Creek Don’t Rise.

Read Part 1 of this interview here.

The Root: Black politicians in New York and New Orleans–Gov. David Paterson, Rep. Charlie Rangel, Rep. William Jefferson, Mayor Ray Nagin–and beyond are under fire, justifiably or not. What are your thoughts on that?

Spike Lee: Well, Gov. Paterson didn’t take $10,000 [laughs] It’s not just New York. Look at Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit. There are a whole lot of incidences where black politicians really reneged on their commitments and promises to black voters who voted them into office. It’s sad. And I think African Americans are sophisticated enough to vote beyond skin complexion. I think we’re past the point of–we have elected officials. I was just talking with my uncle the other Sunday who was torn between rooting for the Saints and the Colts for the Super Bowl. He said, “I’m gonna root for the Colts because they have the black coach.” I said, “You know, two black coaches already won the Super Bowl. It’s not a big thing anymore. My man, Mike Tomlin, won in Pittsburgh, and Tony Dungy already won with the Colts. You gotta go with the Saints.” He said, “That’s right.”

So, a lot of these firsts, they’re not firsts anymore. So we have to vote who’s going to do the job and because it’s right for the city, the state and the country. As I said before, we’ve been betrayed by African-American politicians, so they’re not going to automatically get the vote anymore, even if they’re running against the white candidate.