Spike Lee’s movie, “Do The Right Thing”, haunts me. We can talk about conscious rappers and artists that make you think on profound issue but that movie is the definitive work of art if you want to talk about consciousness. The movie asks you to “Do The Right Thing”, but what it does not tell you is why you should do the right thing. The answer is inherent in the statement. There really is no reason to “Do The Right Thing”, outside of your relationship with humanity itself.
The movie does not even frame doing the right thing in religion, spirituality, or even some dedication to onesrace or culture. It simply shows what happens when people use excuses not to do the right thing. A lot of us have gotten away from Spike Lee because he no longer produces “Black” movies. But the message is still the same, do the right thing, regardless of race, culture, or creed of the one that is affected by what you are doing. Too many of us are tripped up over the fact that Spike Lee, though is a proud Black Man, and will never be ashamed of being Black and will never apologize for it, seems to have his commitment elsewhere.
But at the end of the day his message transcends race, which is why he is so successful. Yet we do not get it. Spike Lee is not about being Black, and neither is Tyler Perry or any of the other producers and directors in Hollywood. They use that backdrop at a point of reference for their films, but they have a bigger message and a higher calling than to talk to us as Black folk, giving that rhetorical message and speaking in that tongue that only Black people can understand. They want to take it farther, that is why Martin Luther King was so successful.
Too often we see assimilation as a weakness. We think that if we work with people of other races and other cultures that we are loosing a part of ourselves and who we are as Black people. We fear the enemy because we have lost faith in God. When you know who you are as a Black person, and in particular, when you know who you are because of your religious believes you do not fear “contamination” or “conflicts of interest” when dealing with people of other races and cultures that may or may not share your own beliefs. This is why some of us can go all the way to the top and others stay at the bottom or in some purgatory in-between stuck in our mediocrity.
Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and do seek any reward for what you are doing. It is that simple. The reward is in what you have done for that other person and how it makes you feel to be in a position to be a blessing to that other individual. It has nothing to do with who sees you. There are going to be times when you are in a precarious position when you cannot talk about what you have done for someone else. May have been because you were somewhere you were not supposed to be doing something that you were not supposed to do. But God will have you do the right thing and back out of that situation, and have that other person think about what they are doing. Infidelity is the biggest and most obvious example, but there are many other situations that exist and those that have been there know exactly what I am talking about.
You thought that you were going to do whatever it was that you wanted to do regardless of whether or not that goes against what you should be doing and that did not happen. It could have happened, but you had to do the right thing. You did not want to do the right thing but you did anyway. No one will ever accuse Spike Lee of being a Christian, but he used Christian themes and referenced it in his work in order to build himself up as an artist and to get to where he is today. No one will ever deny that, and a lot of filmmakers do this. Spike Lee just had a unique way of showing the battle between good and evil that few other filmmakers had thought to do at that time.
You can see it in a few blaxploitation films that came out at the end of the era, say late seventies early eighties. He capitalized on it and put his own twist on it. But that is what artists do but for the rest of us who do not write, produce or direct anything we can still apply the same principles to our own life. Because over twenty years later, am I doing the right thing? Do I see some reward for doing the right thing or am I doing it because it is the right thing to do? When people say “God Bless You” in situations where I was preoccupied with what I was doing and about getting to where I was going how does that affect me. Did I need it for that day, and why can’t I say that to someone else. When I can give those words of encouragement to someone else. It isn’t weak, being weak is what I often do, it is going outside of what is expected of you and throwing in wrench to let people know that not everyone is part of this world system and stuck on this vicious cycle of stabbing your brother in the back to get ahead. Some people are content with where they are at in life and just want to pass on some of their happiness to you. Unconventional yes, unorthodox, well who are you asking? But it is the right sentiment for the right time, for the right person. I cannot argue with that at all …