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How Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ finds justice—and how network TV took that justice away

The summer of 1989 wasn’t just another summer, despite what Chuck D told us in “Fight the Power.” New York City was hot, and it only got hotter when Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing came out. Chronicling how sweltering, simmering racial tension boiled over on a Bed-Stuy Brooklyn block, the movie finally reaches its climax in the police murder of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) and Mookie (Spike Lee) throwing a garbage can through the window of Sal’s Pizzeria. The events, like so many others in the movie, etched themselves into a generation’s memory. …

Let’s say the nightmare scenario happens. What options do citizens have?

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the idea of Election Day giving way to “election season,” that record-breaking early voting numbers have permanently shifted the way we think about the process. That may be, but Election Day this year matters for a very specific reason: We’re less than a week away from the most volatile political moment America has seen since the Civil War.

I mean that literally. There’s a greater than zero chance that democracy itself crumbles under an autocratic regime takeover. …

If not me, then who? A 40-year-old White man?

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

When the video of Jacob Blake getting shot seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, reached my timeline, I did what I usually do when Black trauma becomes a matter of mass consumption. I got angry.

I shared a Twitter post and an Instagram story, then deleted both. What made Blake’s shooting different from the last time an unarmed Black man was shot, or the time before? My cycle of grief continued; I tried to distance myself from it all by deactivating all of my social media.

The torched Department of Corrections building was a new sight, but the…

Despite all the president’s tweets, the NFL’s acknowledgment of player protest will bring the message of racial justice to millions

Photo: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Fall is my favorite time of the year. There is an easiness to the season. Crisp weather, dope jackets, a relaxing drive up the Hudson Parkway with the fall foliage coloring your way to upstate New York. Pumpkin spice lattes, Trader Joe’s unlimited supply of all things pumpkin, hearty soups, and the yearly discussion of “You like pumpkin pie?” Homecoming, college football, “Go Blue!” texts on Saturday mornings for a University of Michigan win. Fourth-quarter music releases, Oscar-contending movie releases, the World Series. Fall centers me.

This past Sunday, a strange feeling came over me — the feeling of normalcy…

Hip-Hop at a Crossroads

Bemoaning the lack of protest anthems misses the point: What we need from artists has changed

Illustration: Moya Garrison-Msingwana

As the summer of 2020 draws to close, it’s clear the world has changed in unprecedented ways. A pandemic, its ensuing economic fallout, and a broad-based racial justice movement — not to mention the toxic, repressive administration that serves as their backdrop — have disrupted our lives in ways we scarcely could have imagined. If ever there was a moment for hip-hop to realize its promise as a political and cultural corrective, it’s this one. …

Rallies like Brooklyn Liberation are a crucial way the larger Pride tradition can expand to welcome everyone

A BLM march in LA in lieu of Pride, June 14, 2020
A BLM march in LA in lieu of Pride, June 14, 2020
A BLM march in LA in lieu of Pride, June 14, 2020. Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

Pride Month 2020 has been different, to say the least. In addition to a pandemic that has driven celebrations online, the start of June was marked by countless people taking to the streets as Black Lives Matter demonstrations spread to every state. Such a confluence has highlighted an ongoing reckoning about the ways in which the broader LGBTQ+ community excludes and further marginalizes those of us who are Black and Brown. While this month is often an opportunity for queer and trans people to let our rainbow flags fly proudly, it increasingly has become just another set of thirty-something days.

Yes, this moment is different from other moments. What took you so long?

Photo: Ira L. Black-Corbis/Getty Images

No one really knows why the world took to this moment over others. A popular theory is that after months of quarantine, people were eager to do almost anything in order to connect to something real. Another notion is that Floyd’s murder was captured so cleanly that it rose to some new level of violence; that, more than all the other videos of Black people being attacked by police, this one might actually be criminal.

This was a moment I knew, and not just from watching Eyes on the Prize every February. When the Rodney King tape hit the news…

Once a presidential hopeful, New York’s mayor has proved that his script around reform was as empty as his suit

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Bill de Blasio is a clown. Let’s start there. We could actually end there, too, honestly, but I might as well explain.

In 2014, when de Blasio was first sworn in as mayor — by former President Bill Clinton at that — he reiterated his lofty vision for an egalitarian city, united across socioeconomic lines. “When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it,” he said. “And we will do it. I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of…

It’s ugly, but don’t give up on America now

Crowds protest on New York City’s Upper East Side. Photo credit: JVG

America is not falling. Yes, it may look like that, and it may certainly feel like that. Just last week in New York City — one of capitalism’s shining capitals — stores were boarded up, windows were shattered, cop cars raced down the streets with sirens blaring as the clock struck eight on curfew hour. And that’s on the Upper East Side. These are scenes we often witness from other countries — countries in deep strife, devolved into chaos, on the precipice of revolution. Online, we are thick in the mire of disinformation, manipulation, and full-on propaganda. Yes, the gaslighting…

Critics of riotous rallies are missing the point

Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

It didn’t take much for us to slip on the running-turned-rioting kicks and say “fuck social distancing.”

“Something goin’ on on 52nd, bro,” I muttered. Down the hallway, my roommate Tre was already putting on outside clothes — a black tee with revolutionary names and matching joggers — and strapping on his camera. We skedaddled down West Philly’s Blackest street, our hearts pounding in our chests and adrenaline coursing through our veins. We ran into some old college friends who informed us that a cop car had been flipped just over the Market Street line, and that folks were burning…


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