It’s a picture-perfect day on Martha’s Vineyard. Families stream by on a heavily foot-trafficked thoroughfare, while white men in cargo shorts dock their boats and crack open their beers. In the middle of it all is Spike Lee, sitting on a bench, delivering an earful of Saturday-afternoon real talk. “Agent Orange is in office,” he says. “If this isn’t a motivation to get off our asses and register to vote, I don’t know what is.”
It soon becomes clear why Lee picked this spot. He wants to talk about President Trump and Barack Obama and Colin Kaepernick and the Ku Klux Klan. But why do that in private when you could do it loudly, outside, for everyone to hear?
Lee is on the island to shoot scenes for the second season of his Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It, based on the 1986 film of the same name that launched his career. But he’s also a regular in the area, having built a house in Oak Bluffs in 1992 while makingMalcolm X. Even though the Vineyard has deeply entrenched roots in black America, with black families sprinkled in every establishment I walk into on this late-July day, Lee still stands out.