7.04.2009

The 20th Anniversary of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing": Did you get the message?

by Jesse Muhammad

This week marks history. Twenty years ago in 1989, I was only ten.

It was during that year that Spike Lee came out with the movie "Do The Right Thing", which was a Hollywood hit. Everybody had a copy of the VHS.

It was a blazing hot summer on the streets of Brooklyn and the movie zeroed in on racial disharmony in Bedford-Stuyvesant. That neighborhood had Blacks, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Jews and others trying to co-exist. That was foreign to me because at that time no other race lived in my area.

And to be honest at that age I did not know what message Lee and his crew of was sending. My friends and I were caught up in the fight over the "Wall of Fame", the look of newcomer Rosie Perez, and laughing at the four-finger rings of Radio Raheem who kept blasting Public Enemy's "Fight the Power".

But as we got older, we understood the message. Racism existed in America.

Today, some would like to say that we live in a post-racial America and that the racial conflict found in "Do The Right Thing" is a thing of the past. Oh really? Tell that to the families of Oscar Grant, Brandon McClelland, Troy Davis, Reggie Clemons, The Jena Six, and others.

It hasn't went away...just manifested in different ways.

Did you get the message? What are your thoughts about the movie in 2009?