Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing: A Retrospective Analysis, In The Age of George Floyd.

Adebayo Adeniran
7 min readApr 19, 2021

A look back at a film that has aged incredibly well and remains powerfully relevant today, in its tackling of prejudice, gentrification, police brutality, geriatric Black love and everything else in between.

Spike Lee via Wikimedia commons

If you had asked me prior to writing this article, what my favorite spike lee movie was, Malcolm X, Mo Better Blues, School Daze and Get on the bus would be the titles coming out of my mouth.

But I have to confess to great shame that re-watching ‘ Do The Right Thing’ twice in the last twenty four hours, have changed my views irrevocably; only now as a forty three year old man, do I fully appreciate the nuance, freshness and incisiveness of the script, the power of the direction, that Mr. Shelton Jackson, brought to the fore in this great work.

These are my insights and highlights from the various sub-plots and plots of Spike Lee’s magnum opus, on screen.

Radio Raheem had shades of George Floyd

Radio Raheem, played by the late Bill Nunn, who passed away in 2016, was indubitably one of the more iconic characters, whom we encounter at various times in the film. Accompanying Radio Raheem was his booming radio, playing one of the greatest rap tunes from one of the greatest hip hop bands of all time — Public enemy.

Radio Raheem is a man of few words, one, who demands that he is respected and isn’t prepared to back down under any circumstances. When our hero was walking along the Puerto Rican part of the neighborhood, his music is met with opposition, but one of the gentlemen quickly recognizes that in the battle of radios and speakers, there can only be one winner, at which point he backs down and Radio Raheem walks away satisfied.

By the time he takes up bugging out’s offer to boycott Sal’s pizza, our hero’s time had run out, firstly, with the smashing of his radio, by Sal and with the arrival of the police, his murder.

With George Floyd, In the age of the smart phone, the world is treated to nine minutes of the Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck, In “Do The Right Thing” we are treated to the image of officer Gary Long’s baton wedded firmly to Radio Raheem’s neck for several minutes, despite the warnings of

Adebayo Adeniran

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible