“White people still ask me why Mookie threw the can through the window. Twenty years later, they’re still asking me that. No black person ever, in 20 years, no person of color has ever asked me why.”
– Spike Lee, 2009
On the 20th anniversary of the release of his classic comedy-drama “Do the Right Thing”, the film’s writer, director, producer and lead actor Spike Lee spoke of the depth of the racial divide that still afflicts America.
In the final scene of the film, Lee’s character Mookie throws a trash can through the window pane of the pizzeria he works at, and a mob rapidly forms and follows suit, trashing the restaurant entirely.
The scene comes after the death of a community member at the hands of the police, called in after racial tensions in the neighborhood come to a boil. A scene from earlier in the film highlights these tensions.
Lee’s quote from five years ago has circulated over social media in recent days, as some black Americans express frustration at the inability of many white Americans to understand their rage over the death of Mike Brown at the hands of a St. Louis policeman, and a slew of other similar incidents.