Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On Spike Lee's Chiraq

Spike Lee was on Al Sharpton's show Sunday, PoliticsNation and stated the cardinal belief of all artists: I will die believing you can change society via art. 

His new movie Chiraq is certainly going to make us think. For starters, it is seen by many as just terribly controversial-which is a good thing if you want to sell tickets and I believe is also a good thing when you want to make people think. Here is one review of it.

But as last night's interview he conducted with Chris Hayes on All In shows, his new film is certainly having no problem generating controversy and criticism starting with the gripe that he's a carpetbagger as a New Yorker talking about Chicago's gun and gang problem.

Then there's the complaint about comparing Chicago to Iraq during the war and of somehow making light of things with his treatment-it's based on the old Greek play Lyestria where the women try to knock some sense into their men by withholding-you know what-the famous S-E-X.

I think his critics don't understand the use of art and comedy at all. But overall, I think Lee brings up some very important issues that need to be discussed. As to the message-just like the Daily News' God isn't fixing this' cover last week-sometimes using a mode that some criticize as offensive can be the best way to push an issue into public consciousness.

And like the DN, Lee is committed to talking about the place of gun violence in America. His focus certainly shows the problem it is in black communities.

I think another reason his film is controversial in a good way is that he brings to the fore an issue that the Black Lives Matter movement has tended to obscure-the fraught issue of black on black crime.

Now let's be clear. The BLM movement has some very legitimate grounds. It begun as an protest against specifically what happened to Trayvon Martin. Incidentally, George Zimmerman is still getting himself into trouble.

In a way this is ironic, as it's since become synonymous in many ways with police brutality and excessive force against young African-Americans.

Not every one of these cases have been the same, Some like Freddie Gray's killing seem like much more clear cases of injustice than Sandra Bland who clearly did everything she could to antagonize the police officer and escalate the situation. This doesn't' necessarily mean he acted properly either. But her conduct was not the way to go either.

So in many ways BLM has come to be about police violence against AA. Overall, this has been a good and necessary focus. However, the problem is that to listen to BLM you'd get the impression that the biggest killer of young black men is police brutality. But while such brutality and excessive force need to be remedied, it is not the only problem AA children and youth face.

When BLM has been asked about black on black violence they've been sort of dismissive. They just blame it on 'white supremacy.' But that's not exactly a solution. That just says 'Solve racism and that will go away.'

To an extent you can't blame them too much as this is the trouble with activists. The more issues they take on the tougher it is to accomplish their goals. So you can't wholly knock them for being sort of one-dimensional or single issue.

But their treatment of the problem of violence at the hands of gang and criminal violence is hardly one of urgency.

And that was the basis of some rants by various black folks on Twitter that BLM ignores black on black crime. You had that young nine year old girl killed in her bedroom by gang violence but this doesn't garner protests or denunciations because it isn't the BLM narrative and they see it as a kind of conservative deflection from their main focus.

No doubt conservatives often do speak of black on black violence as a deflection or sidetracking of the discussion. But on the other hand like Spike Lee said last night, it doesn't somehow hurt less if you lose your child to a gang banger's bullet even if he''s black than a white police officer.

The danger is in marginalizing any black victims not victimized by whites or white police officers.

P.S. Me and my main man Kev just talked and we are going to go see Chiraq on Friday. Then I can give you my own review. But I expect to be impressed.

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