Dear Spike Lee From Charlottesville

An Open Letter To Spike Lee From The Young People Of the Charlottesville Attack

Dear Spike Lee,

On Sunday, August 12th, we sat at the corner where, one year ago, a white supremacist named James Field commited murder and hurt many of our friends. We held each other and shed tears remembering the power and pain of that day. Riot police who laced the streets looked on.

Two days later, some of us sat in a theater watching your latest film recount that attack. We saw some of our own faces. We couldn’t really watch.   

You cast us in your film, Spike Lee. So we thought you might want to know what we think of it.

We can’t speak with certainty about your intent in making Blackkklansmen. But it seems you hoped to speak to our political climate in which an awareness of white supremacist organizations in Amerika has been made unavoidable. Maybe you intended to revitalize or contribute to this awareness with your film. Maybe you just saw dollar signs. Regardless, its clear to us that you chose the wrong story.  Your story (as explained well by Boots Riley)  was about a group of police who tried to fight racism through infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. Here’s a story we’d like to tell you:

The same weekend that your film grossed $10.8 million parading oh-so-relatable cops as protagonists against racism, many of us who were in the streets fighting white supremacy last year, were back in those streets of Charlottesville again.

Both this year and last, we were met by a force who sought to control, suppress and attack us. And it wasn’t just the ones who showed up with hoods and torches. Most of them wore badges.

Let’s break it down even more clearly: 

In the lead up to the Unite the Right Rally of 2017, the Charlottesville community responded to a permitted demonstration organized by the Ku Klux Klan. The police were there too. Armed with shields, bullets and batons, they escorted the Klan to the rally that took place in the shadow of Stonewall Jackson. They created walls to ensure the Klan would not be disrupted. They senselessly arrested any counter protester they perceived to be out of line. Finally they deployed an orange gas that made skin feel like fire to disperse the demonstration of nonviolent counter-protestors. The crowd chanted “Cops and the Klan Go Hand In Hand” until the air was too thick with gas to breathe. No one from the Klan or their supporters, even ones who threatened and instigated violence, were targeted by the cops. Did you know that, Spike Lee?

Even if you did, it doesn’t seem you were interested in showing this face of the police. Instead you fabricated a fiction where black peoples’ aims for liberation, safety and self determination from the forces of white supremacy are shared with the police.

We are the ones whose faces and actions you displayed to end your film with a bang. Something critics would rave about. So you should know that behind those images are the days spent trying to organize for a different world; behind those images are countless nervous breaths while waiting in hospital rooms, hurting in relationships, and struggling to survive in Charlottesville, Virginia. Behind those images is an abundant determination to free ourselves from the terror of police suppression, control, and violence in our communities.

You asked some of us whether you could use those images. We said no. You used it anyways.

We do not want to cast ourselves as victims in your story. We want you to know our truth. We want you to recognize the extent of resources we’ve put into our efforts to fight white supremacy and into our own healing--a process that continues to this day.  

So, Spike Lee, we are asking that you contribute a portion of the profit that you have made from Blackkklansmen in order to fund the longevity and continuation of our work--work that has enhanced the relevancy (and profitability) of this misguided film. We recommend $219,113--the amount that the NYPD is paying you to collaborate in their ad campaign.   

Peaking awareness ain’t enough. We must organize.

We ain’t mad at you Spike Lee. We just want you to do the right thing.

With Sincere Respect,
The Uncredited of Blackkklansmen

An Ask For Folks Who Saw This Joint Or Are Thinking About Seeing This Joint
Consider donating to us instead, or in addition to, your movie ticket price ($8-15).

Where The Money Goes
To students and young people organizing against white supremacy and for a better world in Charlottesville, Virginia through the organizations: Virginia Student Environmental Coalition and Virginia Student Power Network. We are some of those who were injured on both the 11th and 12th and we are connected with more folks directly impacted. Our intention is that this money will go to support victims of the attack. We are fiscally sponsored by the Power Shift Network which is why the fundraiser money “goes” there. Thank you.
  • AK Hill 
    • $15 
    • 48 mos
  • Greg Antrim Kelly 
    • $15 
    • 49 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $7 
    • 49 mos
  • Kathryn Grant 
    • $20 
    • 49 mos
  • Paddy McDaid 
    • $12 
    • 49 mos
See all

Organizer

Kay Kay 
Organizer
Charlottesville, VA
Power Shift Network (Eac) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.