Spike Lee’s newest film, BlacKkKlansman, tells the story of the racial divide that seems to transcend time. The movie comes out today, one year after the events of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.
The rally was led by white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis who opposed the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a Charlottesville park.
Spike Lee says on the impact of BlacKkKlansman:
“It was my idea to have the film open on the one year anniversary [of Charlottesville] so there is a lot I thought about and it is not haphazard. We are trying to be very strategic so this film can have the most impact it can get and we feel that it is a very important film about the world we live in today. It was very crucial for Kevin Willmott and I, my co-writer, that we have things in the film that would trigger audiences to know that we’re not just talking about the 70s.”
Last year, the racist rally inspired counter-protests from anti-racism groups and allies, including Heather Heyer, a young activist who was killed after a car mowed through a crowd of counter-protesters.
“There is a thing called American, home-grown terrorism,” says Lee. “What we all witnessed in Charlottesville was an act of American terrorism. Heather Heyer should be alive today. Susan Bro should have her daughter.”
One of the most shocking things about these attacks was the response from the White House. President Trump got the attention of the whole world when he not only refused to condemn the white supremacists but claimed fault on the side of the counter-protesters as well.
“Anytime something happens in America, you look for your president to speak on it” continues Lee. “And what did he say? ‘There are bad people on both sides.’ Now that’s some bullsh*t.”
“Those people out there like Heather, they were a peaceful group. And they were standing up to hate. And hate committed a murder that day. There’s no two ways about it. That was a murder.”
While BlacKkKlansman tells an American story of a response racism, Spike Lee notes that there has been a change in culture everywhere.
“It’s a global swing to the right,” he says. “It’s not just the United States of America.”