02.08.2019

Spike Lee on This Week’s Racial Controversies

For the first time in his career, director Spike Lee has been nominated for Best Director at both the BAFTAs and the Oscars. He joins Christiane in London ahead of the BAFTA ceremony to discuss his latest film, his career, and the racial controversies surrounding both Virginia politics and Liam Neeson this week.

Read Transcript EXPAND

AGAIN, YOU REFLECTED ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA AND HISTORY BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR FILM?

YOU DID A FILM ABOUT THIS ALL THOSE YEARS AGO, 2000, RIGHT?

RIGHT.

IS ANYBODY LISTENING?

HOW DOES THIS STUFF HAPPEN TODAY?

BECAUSE IT NEVER WENT AWAY.

IT NEVER WENT AWAY.

RACISM, RACIST IMAGERY, ALL THIS STUFF IS INGRAINED IN THE DNA OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

THE VERY FLAG THAT BETSY ROSS SEWED, THAT FLAG -- IT'S SAD BECAUSE YOU THINK THAT WE'RE MOVING FORWARD.

HERE'S THE THING THOUGH.

I NEVER BELIEVED IN A POST-RACIAL SOCIETY.

WHEN MY BROTHER PUT HIS HAND ON ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIBLE AND TOOK THE OATH, THERE'S SUPPOSED TO BE A MAGICAL, MYSTICAL MOMENT, BOOM, RACISM GONE.

I DID NOT DRINK THAT KOOL-AID.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT YOUR BROTHER, BARACK OBAMA?

YES.

ALL OF A SUDDEN RACISM WOULD EVAPORATE, DISAPPEAR, AND WE'LL ALL BE HOLDING HANDS AND SINGING.

THIS WEEK AS WELL THERE'S A RELATED CRISIS WITH A FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD ACTOR LIAM NEESON WHO TALKED ABOUT A FRIEND OF HIS -- [ WHISTLING ]

THAT'S A LONG WHISTLE.

AND SHE SAID BLACK AND HE HAD SAID, I'M GOING TO GO AND BEAT THE BEJESUS OUT OF HIM.

AND THEN HE'S BEEN ON THE APOLOGY TOUR.

I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY THIS CLIP AND GET YOUR TAKE.

I'M NOT RACIST.

THIS WAS NEARLY 40 YEARS AGO.

WOULD YOU HAVE THE SAME REACTION IF YOUR FRIEND SAID IT WAS A WHITE MALE.

SHE JUST SAID IRISH OR SCOT OR A BRIT OR A LITH WINIAN, I KNOW I WOULD HAVE HAD THE SAME EFFECT.

I WAS TRYING TO SHOW HONOR, STAND UP FOR MY DEAR FRIEND.

WELL, IT'S A VERY UNFORTUNATE SITUATION, BUT I'LL HAVE TO SAY THIS.

I REALLY CAN'T COMMENT OVERALL, BUT LET ME SAY THIS.

THERE'S A HISTORY OF WHITE WOMEN SAYING A BLACK MAN, A BLACK SAVAGE RAPED THEM.

IT WASN'T JUST EMMITT TILL.

THERE'S A HISTORY OF WHITE WOMEN IN THIS COUNTRY SAYING THAT.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Spike Lee about his film “BlacKkKlansman,” his career and the racist controversies surrounding Virginia politics and Liam Neeson. Author Leila Slimani discusses her new book and the rise of populism and extremism in France. Michel Martin speaks with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon about Brexit.

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