Spike Lee: DC is ‘Chocolate City’

Discussing “post-racial” inauguration, CNN doesn’t call Lee on outdated racial term.

We’ve heard ad nauseam from a hopeful media -- Daniel Schorr of NPR, commentator Juan Williams and The New Republic among them -- that Obama will be a “post-racial” president. At least some of his supporters haven’t gotten the message.

Popular filmmaker and Obama supporter Spike Lee used a passé racial term for Washington D.C. when he appeared on Friday’s CNN Newsroom. Lee called the nation’s capital “Chocolate City.”

Speaking from Utah, Lee was promoting his Jan. 19 “Inauguration Forum” at D.C.’s Howard University, when he  rhetorically asked anchor Fredricka Whitfield’s permission to call the capital Chocolate City. Whitfield is a Howard graduate.

LEE: “I'm jetting straight to -- you know, you’re in my, we're a little of the same generation. No, I’m just call it ‘chocolate city.’ Can we do that?

WHITFIELD: “We can say that!

LEE: “Like Parliament Funkadelic”

WHITFIELD: “People said it forever.”

LEE: “Chocolate, P-funk. Choc, Chocolate City.”

Washington, D.C. earned the Chocolate City nickname from its majority black population. However, the African-American population has declined from 71 percent in 1970 to 56 percent in 2007. These new demographics make Lee’s use of the name somewhat of an anachronism.

Lee has persistently used Chocolate City to describe a prospective Obama administration.  Back in June, Lee said that if Obama won the election, a “real Chocolate City” would emerge.

Lee has often courted controversy, both with his movies and his mouth. Most recently he started a very public dust-up with actor and director Clint Eastwood. Lee criticized Eastwood for not including any black marines in his two 2006 films, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.”

Despite the historical reality that black GIs on Iwo Jima fought in segregated units and that those units were not a subject of both movies, Lee insisted it was a slight.

“Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version,” Lee said.

Matt Philbin is the managing editor for the Culture and Media Institute. Erin Brown also contributed to this article and is an intern at CMI.  

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture