Hot on the heels of an Oscar celebration that highlighted diversity and bore witness to numerous Hollywood A-listers criticizing him, President Donald Trump fired back, choosing director Spike Lee as the target for his ire, according to The Independent. The president, who is en route to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, took time out to go on Twitter and criticize Lee’s comments.
What the president was evidently upset about were Lee’s comments on the importance of getting involved in the upcoming 2020 election. The Do The Right Thing director, however, never called out Trump by name.
“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner,” Lee said. “Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history, let’s choose love over hate, let’s do the right thing.”
Lee went on to plead with people to “…connect with our ancestors… have love and wisdom, and regain our humanity.”
But apparently, even those rather general words were too much for Trump to take lying down. In response, he fired off a tweet accusing Lee of being a reverse racist toward him and claimed his policies are, in fact, beneficial to people of color.
Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
But it was the tenor of the evening as a whole and not just Lee’s speech that struck a decidedly welcoming and diverse tone. Roma, the gorgeous black-and-white love note to director Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood in 1970s Mexico City not only won Best Foreign Language Film, but it also garnered ten nominations in all, including nods for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.
While many observers were disappointed with Best Picture going to Green Book instead of Black Panther or A Star Is Born, there were some Oscar firsts for African-Americans, and the creative team behind Black Panther didn’t go home empty-handed. Ruth Carter won the costume design statuette, and Hannah Beachler shared the production design prize with Jay Hart, becoming the first African-American winners in their categories.
For Lee, it was his first non-honorary Oscar, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film BlacKkKlansman, which tells the story of black detective Ron Stallworth, who managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan during the 1970s. While Lee’s film sticks to that decade, for the most part, it does touch on the beginning of the ascension of the white nationalist far-right movement that many believe helped propel Trump to the White House.
Lee gave a heartfelt and inspiring speech, and called on everyone to not ever forget the enslavement of African-Americans, whom he described as “our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today.”