Spike Lee is a vocal proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement, but believes the black community must “speak out” against black-on-black crime if they wish to see structural changes in policing and community relations.
Echoing comments he made earlier this month on CNN, the director, whose latest film Chi-Raq begins streaming on Amazon December 4, said that the conversation about gun violence in Chicago and the Black Lives Matter movement go “hand in hand.”
“I love what Black Lives Matter is doing, and I was marching in New York City after Ferguson and for Eric Garner,” Lee told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m with that, but I would be less of a person if I’m out there on the streets talking about the cops and private citizens who killed our people and then remain mum about us killing ourselves. For me, that don’t work.”
“It don’t matter what complexion the hand or finger is that’s pulling the trigger that’s killing somebody,” he added. “We’ve got to be vocal on both parts.”
In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Lee said that when it comes to violence, “I think morally, you gotta speak out on both sides.”
“I was on the streets of New York, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, so I believe in Black Lives Matter,” the director said. “I was chanting ‘Don’t shoot,’ I was chanting ‘I can’t breathe.’ But you can’t be silent on the other hand when we’re killing ourselves. It’s not just the cops.”
Lee’s latest film, Chi-Raq — a retelling of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata — tells the story of the appropriately named Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) as she organizes a “sex strike” with other women in Chicago in order to stop gun violence. On Wednesday night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Lee said that female college students should similarly withhold sex from men to combat campus rape and sexual assault.
In his interview with the Post, Lee fired back at feminist critics who claim that putting the responsibility on women to withhold sex to stop violence is sexist.
“As a feminist, you should want, I think correctly, that you should want for murders to stop,” he told the paper. “As a feminist, you don’t want your daughter, or your son, or any mother to have their children murdered. That’s not part of feminism? I would like to hear the argument from feminists why they should not be asked to do that. In the black community, it’s all hands on deck. It’s all hands on deck. That’s nothing. We get sidetracked into arguments about feminism, or this or that. That’s a distraction.”