As the subject suggested someone took offense to the blog and accompanying survey I sent out last week entitled “SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT” in hopes of having some of my females readers (the two of you), my female friends (two more) fill out. I think it was the excitement of actually getting a glimpse into Spike Lee's alleged character development and research process for such a character that had me so excited to send it out and not conscious of how it might have been perceived. Don’t worry this reader made a clear point of telling me.
While we had our back and forth I got to thinking about how many other women might have been out there whom read the post and thought the same or worse. I wondered if I had possibly lost one of the two female readers of this blog I actually had and even one of those female friends as well. Below is the conversation that took place between myself and “HER”, if you have similar views or would like to rip into me on any topic feel free to go at it. I don’t care to live in a bubble full of my fellow choir members, always down to have my gospel tested and my beliefs question.
STAND UP AND BRING IT ON!!!
CONVERSATION/DEBATE/ARGUMENT/ALL OUT WAR BEGINS
I've honestly never thought that Spike Lee was a proponent for equal rights when it comes to women and in some ways I truly don't agree with his views of equal rights for African-Americans as well. I remember watching his movies as a teen and was shocked at what I saw. For a woman of mixed-race heritage living in a town called ________, Colorado I honestly didn't get it. I tried but I didn't. It's bizarre that I come from a town with absolutely no minorities as a child and experienced nothing but an idyllic childhood. I'm not certain that a man like Spike Lee could ever speak for me. I don't think I would ever want him to. School Daze, She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing...all misogynistic. Sorry I can't fill out something that makes me feel slimy and less than the woman I am. I remember seeing an interview with Rosie Perez and she was talking about the ice cube scene and how the cameraman made Spike Lee stop. He's an asshole, unhappy being the short ugly troll that he is.
I understand what you’re saying, but I respectfully have to disagree with you. Spike Lee spoke to me in a way that almost no other director has ever. The irony is the fact that the three movies you listed are the ones that most resonate with me. I am not mixed by race but by association. I am Haitian, but I came from a well off family and went to private school for the majority of my life with predominately all white kids and loved rock music as much as Hip Hop if not more at some moments back then. This did not make for the easiest of connections with neither my black or white classmates nor my neighbors. When around black kids I was the dark kid, which back then was a race onto itself, when around the white kids I was the black kid. No, I didn’t really deal with racism as a child amongst my white friends. Probably got more shit from the black kids, but that’s another story onto itself. We were children and played as such, our differences had more to do with personalities than race, but as I got older lines were drawn and unspoken understandings made. I have to admit I hate being the black guy and how comfortable my white friends are to separate me into a class all my own. To let some dumb “unconsciously” racist BS fly from their mouths under the gize of curiosity or humor. I AM BLACK.
Coming up in New York Spike was my New York director, no matter how much I loved Woody Allen, his New York, wasn’t my New York. I found identity, pride, and understanding from Spike. I’ve watched “School daze” numerous times over the years at different points in my life and each time it’s meant something different to me and made me aware of how he spoke to the topics and ills of a community underrepresented by Hollywood. Who else back then and since made a film about all black colleges and people of color actually going to them and succeeding while dealing with all the stuff that can make you want to pack your bags and go home. We as a people are always told all we do is drop out, go to jail, and have kids out of wedlock. Both he and Bill Cosby with “A different world” CRUSHED those stereotypes (for that moment in time) with representations of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) on both the large and small screen. Up until that point I and a lot of other people, both black and white, didn’t even know such a thing as an HBCU existed.
All my black friends came from well off families with highly educated parents who were doctors, lawyers, politicians, but all I saw of black success on TV were musicians, athletes and/or drug dealers. Where was my reality? I went to NYU, so I can’t speak to the HBCU experience other than what I’ve witnessed second hand from my friends who attended them, but when I transferred to a predominately black private school and met the light/dark color divides for the first time it freaked me out and I saw it in his movies. It dealt with my desire to sometimes be the blackest guy in the room, probably subconsciously, in hopes of proving my blackness. It spoke to my own fucked up behavior with woman and control due to what I saw as a child with men and woman. It made me face my own prejudices related to our own race. How the media and society brainwashed me and most around me to believe in a distorted ideal of beauty and once discovering the misinformation, my own overdoing to destroy those false ideals by doing the polar opposite and in turn create other prejudices.
I understood the anger of the community in “Do the right thing”, because at different points in my life I’ve wondered out loud “Why aren’t there any black people on the wall?” and “Why did the cops just killed Radio Raheem?”. "She’s gotta have it" came out right as I was entering puberty and it blew my mind that a woman could be that free and confident with her own sexuality. I was raised in a patriarchal Haitian home where a woman’s’ sexual identity was constructed by the man that “chose her”. If he was a freak she was a freak because she did what he wanted. If she had sex six times a week if was because he turned over six times a week or four or one or none because he would be next door getting it from his mistress and you couldn’t do ANYTHING about it as HIS wife. This bothered me, until “she’s got to have it” crushed all those preconceived notions for me. It showed me that a woman could please herself whenever, however, and with whomever she so pleased and we were the ones who were lucky to be chosen to assist her in achieving her goal. Spike is not perfect, but he is mine and I proudly claim him. You’ve been in NYC for a while now and I think your experiences and interactions have had to have been effected a bit by living here. I would urge you to revisit those films and see where they stand in your current life as a woman, a person of mixed heritage, and a New Yorker. Please do me another favor if you haven’t seen it already I’d love it if you watched Afropunk.
P.S. That ice cube seen blew my mind and helped a lot of early sexual encounters go better.
PART 2 COMING TOMORROW