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Red Hook Summer Collaborator James McBride: Hollywood Forces Black Artists to Be 'Cultural Maids'

Days after the polarizing Red Hook Summer hit Sundance, co-writer/co-producer James McBride unleashed a passionate missive comparing the black artists' experience to cultural servitude: "You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together, but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind of cultural maid. You serve up the music, the life, the pain, the spirituality. You clean house. Take the kids to school. You serve the eggs and pour the coffee. And for your efforts the white folks thank you. They pay you a little. They ask about your kids. Then they jump into the swimming pool and you go home to your life on the outside, whatever it is. And if lucky you get to be the wise old black sage that drops pearls of wisdom, the wise old poet or bluesman who says ‘I been buked and scorned,’ and you heal the white folks, when in fact you can’t heal anybody." []

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Spike Lee and Co. Talk Religion and Representation in Red Hook Summer

Sundance 2012 - Spike Lee, Red Hook Summer

In his new Brooklyn-set drama Red Hook Summer, director/co-writer Spike Lee tackles the complex topics of religion and redemption within the modern African American experience, as filtered through the eyes of a spoiled Atlanta teenager (Jules Brown) forced to spend one hot, explosive summer with his preacher grandfather in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a richly conceived portrait of the Brooklyn neighborhood as microcosm for the black community at large, very much a Lee joint through and through. But, as the filmmaker reminded audiences this week at Sundance, where he railed against the Hollywood system, “it’s not a sequel to Do the Right Thing!”
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