Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

Racial Violence and Inequality in the Film Do the Right Thing

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Do The Right Thing, a film that was produced, directed and written by Spike Lee, centers around a sweltering hot day in the lives of a racially diverse group of people who are economically less fortunate residing in a poverty stricken area located within Brooklyn New York. The main focus of the film revolves around how social classes, racial and moral ethics of the characters effects the relationships in the way each character reacts and treats one another. It begins with a bright day as the characters arise from their beds to start their morning eventually reaching the climax to a dark night as a two white police officers take the life of a young black man that goes by the name of Radio Raheem who was picking a fight with an older Italian restaurant owner named Sal in and outside of his pizzeria generating a vicious neighborhood riot. As seen in the movie, race has an effect on police brutality just like it does in society today.

Ultimately, the movie shows how threatening the reactions of others could be rooted from race, ambiguously, characters are stereotyped due to their aesthetics and native tongue. In numerous ways, Lee employs these methods by having Sal and his two sons, who are Italian American wear rugged guinea tees and religious crosses around their necks. To continue, another example would be Lee’s portrayal of Radio Raheem blasting loud rap music with his boom box held on his shoulder while sporting a necklace that looks to be an African medallion.

Even the group of Puerto Rican friends are visible listening in on salsa music, taking down a few alcoholic beverages together while communicating in the Spanish language to each other on the front porch on one of their apartment buildings. Lee also makes note that serious and comical slurs spur from power struggles from the diverse ethnicities of his characters. Throughout the film, the character notice each other’s dissimilarities and exhibit Marxism values during social synergy.

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In the film, a white man riding a bike back to his apartment was verbally attacked by Buggin’ Out after he accidentally ran over and scuffed up Buggin’ Outs newly purchased pair of Air Jordan’s. Buggin’ Out then questions the white man asking him, “What are you doing in my neighborhood.” Lee demonstrates in this scene how a low-income citizen feels a psychological need to compete with someone of the other color economically. This is an example of the culture as Buggin’ Out shows that he has the hottest pair of shoes right now and he did not want to feel symbolically like his shoes were ran over by a white man who Buggin’ Out deemed to be wealthier than he was.

Set in a predominantly back neighborhood in Brooklyn, the only two business that are shown were owned by businessmen that were Italian American and Korean American families. Some of the black characters grow a liking for these owners while others tend to dislike them for similar purposes . However, the white mans business was tarnished and burned down to ashes.

Although there was conflict between all three ethnic groups being whites, blacks and Koreans, Lee focuses mainly on the deep battling history between whites and blacks as there is much more disputes.Furthermore, many of the black residents love Sal’s pizza but they soon come to realize that he does have that bit of racism attached to his heart as he would not let Buggin’ Out put a picture of a famous black man on his wall of fame the resembled all influential and iconic white individuals.This allows Sal to keep his power and control over the black people who enter and eat at his pizzeria.

Director Spike Lee creates a film that emotionally entertains audiences through disparities and racial problem when they are not translated correctly by the powerful, thus leading to violence caused by those who are deemed to be powerless. The realistic approach of this movie is shown as just because everyone comes from a different background or culture does not mean that everyone will get along and live a happy and lavish lifestyle. Lee needed to embrace these stereotypes in order slam them.During the film, one of the police officers said while driving through the neighborhood said,”What a waste.” Not one resident in the housing complex was committing any savage behavior. This comes to show that the offers have no respect for the people that they serve which later plays into how the rest of the movie unfolds.

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