When in New York City, you do what New Yorkers do, right?
That’s exactly what I did Saturday after attending and speaking on a panel for “Blogging While Brown,” a conference aimed at bloggers of color. It seemed that everyone I kept running into was buzzing about the “Do the Right Thing” 25th Anniversary block party in Brooklyn. Now, I couldn’t be in NYC and not attend this event. I mean, the movie debuted in theaters on June 30 to critical acclaim and being that I was there, I had to represent for XFINITY’s CelebrateBlackTV.com. So I caught the A Train from Harlem to “Do or Die Bed-Stuy” to see what this was all about. Though I got there an hour before its scheduled 6 p.m. ending (it started at noon), the crowd was still very thick and hyped to be celebrating Spike Lee’s iconic film. What made it doubly cool is that the party took place on the very block where the movie was shot–Stuyvesant Avenue between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street. You know where Buggin’ Out’s (Giancarlo Esposito) new Air Jordans got ran over, Da Mayor (Ossie Davis) kept trying to win Mother Sister’s (Ruby Dee) heart and Mookie (Spike Lee) spent more time than delivering pizza.
There was a stage set up at one end of the block with “Do the Right Thing” banners flying and Spike Lee, king of the ball, talking to the crowd as deejays were spinning. Though there were plenty of brown faces, the crowd was pretty diverse. One of the first people I spotted was a friend of mine from elementary school and undergrad who’s now teaching at a local university. How cool was that? Now a Brooklynite, he and his crew were out enjoying the festivities. I spotted a few more recognizable faces and about 20 minutes after arriving, I, along with everyone else, was waiting for Public Enemy to perform the film’s anthem, “Fight the Power.” Soon after Chuck D, the group’s frontman, took the stage and everyone went wild. He talked to the crowd (I couldn’t clearly understand) and then the music started. I’m still unsure whether his bandmates like Professor Griff or Flavor Flav were there but his presence seemed to be enough for attendees.
Sensing the event's end was near, I started to leave and lo and behold, ran across another blast from the past: ladies playing Double Dutch. Man, I hadn't seen this in years! For those of you scratching your head (or born in the last 20 years), Double Dutch is a jump rope game that uses two ropes turning in the opposite direction while a (skilled) jumper shows off their moves. Those Brooklyn ladies were good, considering they probably haven't jumped roped since "Do the Right Thing" debuted, and gathered a crowd. They reminded me of me and my friends when I was a little person. Sadly, girls today don't know a thing about double dutch and most of those playing on Saturday were 30 and up. Watching them also reminded me of the cultural links that black communities across the country shared. Whether growing up in Brooklyn, Chicago or Dallas, chances are if you're a lady who is 30 and up, you played double dutch.
I spending a 20 minutes watching those ladies turn it out, I noticed the crowd getting hyped around the stage and I returned. I heard someone shout, “There’s Erykah Badu!” and more bodies rushed to the stage. In all of her glory, E. Badu, wearing a large hat similar to the one she wore to this year’s Met Gala, was shaking hands and signing any and everything. Yes, receipts, T-shirts, posters, dollar bills, phone bills, Timberland boots–you handed it to her and she signed it. I also noticed Mos Def onstage with her and Spike and was told Dave Chappelle was there, too, though I didn’t see him. All in all, it was a peaceful, joyous event where Brooklyn came out to show one of its own some love.
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Do the Right Thing” by watching it below or on TV with XFINITY On Demand.
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.