On February 24th, Spike Lee (along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott) took home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman at the 2019 Oscars. It was Lee’s fifth nomination and his first-ever win—and fans were beyond thrilled. However, it looks like President Donald Trump was decidedly less than happy with Lee’s acceptance speech after the writer-director used his platform to talk politics. In his speech, Lee talked about the 2020 presidential election, and although he didn’t mention Trump by name, he did call on viewers to “make the moral choice between love versus hate”…which definitely could be interpreted as a dig at the 45th president.
On the morning of February 25th, Trump tweeted,
Okay, first, there was nothing racist about what Lee said. He literally advocated for love. And even if he had explicitly called out the current administration for discriminatory policies against black Americans, that still would not be racist. Trump seems confused…not that we’re surprised.
Additionally, Trump’s tweet, like many of the president’s claims, doesn’t tell the whole story. According to CNBC News, the black unemployment rate was at an all-time low of 5.9% in December, but that was still higher than the overall unemployment rate of 3.7%. And the Associated Press notes that many economists consider the racial income gap to have widened under Trump. Trump’s tweet also conveniently ignores the fact that, according to The New York Times, white Americans have benefited from Trump’s tax cuts more than black Americans have. The 45th president also has an extensive track record of dog whistling and racism.
Basically, Trump has not “done more for African Americans” than almost any other president. If he doesn’t want to be equated with hate, maybe he should re-evaluate his policies and the way he reacts to criticism from people like Lee.