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Do the Right Thing Analysis

by Walker Valdez April 2016


The film Do the Right Thing, written, directed and produced by Spike Lee, focuses on a single day of the lives of racially diverse people who live and work in a lower class neighborhood in Brooklyn New York. However, this ordinary day takes place on one of the hottest days of the summer. The film centers on how social class, race and the moral decisions that the characters make have a direct effect on the way people interact with each other. It starts with the film’s characters waking up to start their day and climaxes with a neighborhood riot after police officers excessively restrain and kill a young black man named Radio Raheem for fighting an older Italian American restaurant owner named Sal in his pizzeria, and then outside on the street. The film, although released in 1989, with its social commentary on the effect that race has on police brutality is just as relevant today as when it was released 26 years ago.

Though the movie ultimately shows how dangerous it is to react to others based on race, ironically, Lee portrays characters stereotypically in the movie through their language and aesthetics. Spike Lee indulges in stereotypes by using iconography to represent the different racial groups in the film (Etherington-Wright 236). He does this in numerous ways such as having Italian American characters wear crosses and tank top shirts. He also does this in his portrayal of Radio Raheem wearing an African medallion necklace while carrying a large boom box playing loud rap music. Even tertiary characters such as a group of Puerto Rican friends are shown listening to salsa while speaking Spanish and drinking beer on the stoop of their apartment building. Lee also points out that his characters recognize that their different ethnicities can lead to a power struggle by having them openly insult each other through ethnic slurs in both a comic and serious fashion. Lee also shows this when his black activist character Buggin’ Out tells Mookie, who is a black man employed by a white man, to “Stay Black” insinuating that Mookie should never strive to be a Tom or a sell-out (Etherington-Wright 238).

Throughout the film, the characters not only point out the differences in their race, but also display the ideas found in Marxism through their social interactions. According to Understanding Film Theory , “Marxism was conceived as a revolutionary theory that attempted to explain and expose the relations of power in capitalist societies” (Etherington-Wright 83). It also says that Marxism’s founder, Karl Marx, was “concerned with the apparent division between the ruling and the working class” (83). In the film, Buggin’ Out verbally attacks a property owning white man for running over his new Air Jordans and then asks him “What are you doing in my neighborhood?” In this brief scene Lee is able to show how a character in a poor neighborhood feels the psychological need to compete with others economically. This is an example of the Culture Industry and Buggin’ Out displays this because he buys the latest shoes and does not want to feel that he was literally and symbolically being run over by a man who was much wealthier than he was (86).

The film is set in a predominantly black neighborhood and the only two families seen that own businesses are either Italian American or Korean American. Therefore, some of the black characters like them because they are business owners and others dislike them for the same reason. However, at the end of the film the only business owner whose business is vandalized and burned to the ground is a white man’s. Lee shows that, although there is conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans, the history between whites and blacks is much more conflicted. Furthermore, even though many of the black characters love Sal’s pizzeria, they do become aware of what Sal really thinks of them when he feels threatened out by Buggin’ Out and denies him the chance to put a picture of a black man on the pizzeria wall. The movie also clearly shows how by denying the picture, Sal keeps control over the black patrons in his restaurant. The two films clips that will be discussed will be analyzed by using both a racial and Marxist perspective. The first clip shows black and Hispanic characters in conflict over material possessions, but ultimately respecting each other, and the second clip shows Mookie coming to the realization that as much as he tries to moderate peaceful relations between white and black characters at some point he feels he has to fight for what he thinks is unfair, even if it means losing his job over it.

Do the Right Thing Analysis of Scenes

The first selected scene begins with a record being played that brings in the sound of conga drums while the camera fades to the next scene where we find a group of Puerto Rican men who fit a perceived ethnic Puerto Rican image while the salsa music of Ruben Blades is heard loud. Spike Lee opening the scene with heavy use of iconography enforces stereotypes by choice of the men’s clothes, language, and facial appearance. The man in the center speaks in Spanish, referring to his beautiful land Puerto Rico, while his friend disagrees with its beauty by calling it a nightmare. The scene is successful in portraying that this corner of the majority black neighborhood is very different from the rest. While the two friends begin to argue the camera pans away to reveal that the loud salsa music actually comes from an old boom box which begins to blend with loud rap music cluing the viewer that Radio Raheem must be near. The camera pans to the right and starts from the ground, moving up stopping at the large newer stereo being held by two large African American hands wearing gold knuckle jewelry, showing Lee’s use of fetishization by focusing on half of the body and not the face. As the camera pauses, the viewer can read the words Super and PRO stereo and Raheem’s music is heard much more clearly, showing signs of economic excess. The jewelry and the stereo’s excessive noise and size represent economic power and status. The camera pans up to Raheem’s serious face and the African medallion hanging on his neck once again shows iconography. While the camera focus on Raheem, the sound of the Puerto Ricans yelling that their salsa music is being drowned out is heard. The camera rotates to the right again and passes green bushes that represent a tropical climate as the salsa music starts to be heard again.

The man in the center recognizes that Radio Raheem is issuing a challenge of power by standing next to them blaring loud rap music that many black youth identify with. This challenge of power has both racial and economic symbolism because it is essentially seeing not only whose stereo plays louder music, but also whose culture is the more dominating one. When the Puerto Rican man walks over to his boom box, which has a Puerto Rican flag sticker on it, it is clear that his stereo is not as new and when he turns up the volume louder the viewer realizes it’s not as loud either. Raheem then turns up multiple knobs and drowns out the salsa yet again, letting the Puerto Rican man know that in this power struggle he has just lost. He responds by turning down his music again and saying “You Got it Bro” to which Raheem responds by smiling and pumping his fist in the air. This two minute scene, although entertaining, in reality represents the whole movie in the way the different races want to feel acknowledged, powerful and respected by the other races in the film. In this scene Raheem proves he is more powerful and it is a precursor for the many confrontations that he faces throughout the film.

The second selected scene begins minutes after Radio Raheem has been killed by the police because of their response to a street fight between Radio Raheem and Sal. This scene represents how disbelief turns to outrage, as the characters shout the names of other victims of police violence. At this point the viewer begins to realize that this may not have been a freak accident and in fact that has been happening repeatedly in this neighborhood. The residents of this lower class neighborhood are now all aware that it is the norm for them to be victimized by police. The older man saying “They didn’t have to kill the boy,” points out that Radio, though large and intimidating, was still a fairly young man.

When the camera pans to Mookie’s shocked face, it reveals that Mookie has decided that there is something wrong with standing next to these three white men while the rest of his neighbors and friends watch. The way they stand is very important because Sal is standing in the center and his two sons are standing behind him. Mookie is also next to him, but his body is slightly away from them showing that he is reconsidering his position towards them. He looks to Sal, then back at the neighborhood and begins to walk away from Sal and his sons. The act is very significant because Mookie felt a loyalty to Sal through employment, but now a line in the sand is drawn. After Mookie leaves, Sal’s facial expression becomes tenser because he realizes that at least he had someone in the neighborhood literally on his side who ethnically looked like the rest of the residents who at the moment are not happy with him or his sons.

Seeing that tensions may escalate, the character Mayor tries to pacify the crowd, but they do not take him seriously due to his alcoholism and the fact that he is dressed poorly. At this point the crowd is upset, but have not decided to commit any acts of violence yet. The camera panning from a largely black crowd to three white men staring at them shows that Sal and his sons may have more economic status, but they do not have the numbers. Pino’s face shows that he may have been expecting this to happen all along. This scene is very fascinating because at this point Sal and his sons are not just a symbol of wealth, but are now a symbol of any injustice committed against the people of the neighborhood by someone who is white or economically more powerful than they are. It is ironic because Raheem was actually choking Sal before the police came, but the residents do not acknowledge that. As Mookie runs with a trashcan towards the pizzeria, he is not only smashing Sal’s store, but is showing his outrage and anger for being made to feel powerless by the police. Sal’s voice in slow motion can be heard yelling “No!” but by then it is too late. As the residents loot the store it shows that they are tired of being made to feel powerless by the police and by all those who are economically better off. While some destroy the store, others go for the money showing that they are desperate to regain the power that they felt that they never had. While the neighborhood residents destroys the pizzeria, Sal is taken to the other side of the street where he is forced to watch in disbelief as not only his store is being destroyed, but also his economic superiority over them becomes destroyed as well, thus proving to be a remarkable scene.

Director Spike Lee chose to create a film that is able to both entertain and emotionally resonate with an audience by pointing out that when racial and social disparities are not properly addressed by those in power, they can ultimately lead to acts of extreme violence by those who feel powerless. The film is realistic in its approach that a melting pot of different cultures and races doesn’t mean that everyone will live happily ever after. Lee knew that in order to make a film about social issues he needed to embrace the stereotypes in order to criticize them. At one point in the film the police officers are driving through the neighborhood and say “What a waste” while they are driving by. The residents outside at the moment were not committing any acts of violence, but in a brief instant it shows that the officers whose job it is to protect the community do not respect the residents they serve, and also hints at what is to come later in the movie.

The film expertly lets the conflict build slowly instead focusing on the ridiculousness of stereotypes such as the Asian store owner with a thick accent, or the overly agitated and hyper active young man who can be seen as very pro black. The film shows the viewer that these issues concerning race exist, but the characters do not directly confront them until the very end of the film. It is important to emphasize that these issues are not solely with race, but also who is in control. It is the combination of the two that takes things to a boiling point. Comic scenes like a boom box show down ultimately prove to be more about power and less about who’s got better music, and a riot does not usually form without years of feeling that the system created for a group’s protection does not benefit their best interests. Do The Right Thing is more than just a film on police brutality or racial identity, it is about the beauty and ugliness that exist, not only in a low income community, but in our selves.

Works Cited

Do The Right Thing . Dir. Spike Lee. Perf. Spike Lee, Danny Aiello. Universal, 1989. DVD.

Etherington-Wright, Christine, and Ruth Doughty. Understanding Film Theory . Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.

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Studies of Black History at the University of San Diego

Remembrances, discussion, and analysis, do the right thing analysis and reflection.

do the right thing analysis essay

Do the Right thing analysis and reflection

In search of learning more about African American history during the African American history month, I attended the showing of the movie “Do the Right Thing”. In this essay, I shall provide an overview of the movie and personal analysis of its meaning.

Before actually watching the film, the title gave me the idea of it being about the story of African Americans overcoming some struggle with their environment and coming to terms in a peaceful manner. However, the film turned out to be anything but that. The stories started with DJ love daddy, a radio host in a neighborhood mostly filled with African Americans. He then introduces us to the town that he lives in and the main character, Mookie. Mookie is a delivery boy at a pizza restaurant that most people in the town eat. Sal is the owner of the pizza restaurant. Sal also happens to be one of the few white Americans living in this community filled mostly with African American, Hispanic and immigrants of other racial ethnicities. The differences in cultural background and beliefs certainly warranted tension between Sal and the community members. A character named Buggin Out had an unfriendly history with the owner Sal. Sal has a wall of fame in the restaurant full of white Americans. Buggin Out is offended by the lack of African Americans on the wall and demanded pictures of Africans be hanged. Sal refused his request as he did what he saw fit in his store. Buggin Out tried to get support from the crowd but failed to do so since they all had a long history of eating at Sal’s place. With that being said, Buggin Out is not the only person unsatisfied with Sal. Another character called Radio Raheem had an unpleasant history with Sal for playing his music too loudly in Sal’s restaurant. As their rage grew, Buggin Out and Radio Raheem decided to force Sal to hang up pictures of African Americans in his store. They marched into the store with blaring music demanding action from Sal. After some argument, Sal broke Radio Raheem’s music player to finally stop the music. In his rage, Radio Raheem attacked Sal and was arrested by police officers that arrived at the scene later. During the arrest, Radio Raheem fought back constantly and was choked to death by an officer. The crowd was enraged by this and burned down Sal’s place. The film ended with DJ love daddy announcing the news and stating it is going to be yet another hot day.

The movie was titled “Do the Right Thing”. However, I believe in the movie, nobody really did the right thing. Near the end of the movie, After Radio Raheem was killed. The angry mob was getting out of control. Mookie redirected their anger towards the store by throwing a trash can through the window of the restaurant. I believed this was the right thing to do at the time as the mob focused on trashing the restaurant instead of attacking Sal and his son.  However, the story ended with Mookie getting fired, and DJ love Daddy announcing it is going to be yet another hot day. I believe the hot day not only signifies the temperature the town is experiencing, but also the tension between the ethnic groups. So in the end, things never changed. Mookie saving Sal’s life saved him at the time, but he couldn’t solve the bigger, more systemic issues that are the root cause of the problem. Racial inequality and the lack of opportunity is the reason why the community is poor and discriminated against. In the story, Buggin Out and Radio Raheem decided to counteract this through the use of violence. They were merely searching for an equal representation of both whites and blacks on a wall of fame in a remote cafeteria, yet it ended up costing Radio Raheem his life. Although it seems like an irrelevant demand when taking in the big picture, I believe this struggle is a reflection of the bigger issue, equal access, and representation. As discussed in class. African American representation has always been very limited. African American representation is intentionally limited to a one-sided story can be told. As shown in the film, the wall of fame contained a one-sided story of white American being better than African Americans. It contained only pictures of white American achieving great heights. For an uninformative observer, after looking at the wall of fame, the only logical conclusion that the person can draw is praises for the white Americans. By doing this, a one-sided story is formed. The observer would walk away with the conclusion that no African Americans achieved enough to qualify for the wall of fame, making this person more susceptible to other one-sided stories that promoted racial inequality. I believe this movie is called do the right thing to refer to the right way to fight for set equality. As shown in the final scene of the movie, a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr was hung up on the remains of Sal’s wall of fame. Two great civil rights leaders who spent their lives fighting for social justice under very different principles. Much like Malcolm X, Buggin Out and Radio Raheem tried to force Sal to change the picture through violence. And much like Martin Luther’s approach, Mookie saved Sal and kept only what he earned for his pay. I believe the title do the right thing doesn’t mean that anybody actually did the right thing in the movie, but more so, how to fight for your goal in the right way.

Near the end of the movie, DJ love Daddy stated it is yet another hot day. I believe signified that the tension in the community didn’t decrease due to the riot that just happened. A life lost due to the struggle for equality, yet very little was achieved through it. Had Buggin Out taken a different approach such as campaigning for African American representation or presenting a petition, maybe the violence and conflict could have been avoided. The easiest thing for Buggin Out to do was to demand representation through force, but the right thing is usually not the easiest thing to do.

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Sample by  My Essay Writer


The film shows that it is very difficult for the back people to go about their daily lives with the police authority appearing to keep a discriminatory eye on them. But the dynamic is challenging because when the black people wanted to cool off in the water, the police came and turned it off. It seems as though the black people weren’t malevolent in the film, for the most part, but were just victims of circumstance. I think many people who don’t have air conditioning would support opening up a fire hydrant to cool off on a day that is tempting the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark. It was just one or two people who decided to turn on the fire hydrant that were the real criminals, but that seemed to paint a dark picture for all of the black people in the neighbourhood, and that type of behaviour led the police to stereotype the black people and fueled much of the hate that they had towards them. This is an example of how the film does a tremendous job at showing how one or two bad apples can spoil the bunch.

Another example is when the police kill Radio Raheem. The black people retaliate by trashing Sal’s pizza restaurant, which a few felt didn’t belong in their neighbourhood because it didn’t have pictures of black people in it. This shows that the behaviour of the police, because they were white, reflected poorly on other white people, and Sal, even though he appeared to like black people most of the time, had to pay the price. Sal’s character showed the conflicting opinions about black people that white people possessed. Sal was in love with his black worker, Mookie’s, sister and he looked at Mookie as a son. However, when Radio Raheem wouldn’t turn his music down when he was in the restaurant, he started saying racial slurs. This shows how magnified the actions of each race was at the time, and when a member of one race did something wrong, it painted a bad picture for everyone belonging to the racial group.

do the right thing analysis essay

While keeping on the topic of magnification, it is important to note what started the whole ordeal. When Buggin Out gets upset about the fact that there are no pictures of black people on the wall at the pizzeria, he becomes furious and tries to get a boycott going. However, not including a black person on the wall wasn’t meant to be an insult to the community. After all, Sal, as mentioned, loved black people, and all he wanted to do was put pictures on the wall of Italian Americans to reflect his heritage. This was what he had wanted his pizzeria to look like. Taking this small details and turning it into something it was not, is what eventually caused the riot and Radio Raheem’s death. Lee emphasizes this point by having the mentally challenged character put a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King on the wall near the end of the film. The reaction Buggin Out had to there being no pictures of black people on the wall shows the sensitivity that he had and which was present throughout the film with nearly everyone involved. This is explained in “Unthinking Eurocentrism:” “The sensitivity around  stereotypes  and distortions largely arises, then, from the powerlessness of historically marginalized groups to control their own representations,” (184). But the question about whether Buggin Out was being sensitive is debatable. For example, as “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” points out, “From slavery on, white supremacists have recognized that control over images is central to the maintenance of any system of racial domination” (2).

The film also depicted the various power dynamics that were expressed between the white and black people. White people were usually in positions of power, such as was the position of Sal in the pizzeria, as Mookie was his employee. It was also evident in the police. However, when the white man driving the vehicle through the neighbourhood asked the black people to direct the water from the hydrant in another direction, he was rude to them, and they decided to instead direct the water at him and the vehicle in which he took so much pride. There was a consistent power struggle between the black and the white people, as Mookie continually questioned the authority that was on him. Furthermore, the black people were in control with the white man in the car wasn’t able to get by them without having his vehicle soaked. This shows the building tension that were simmering like the summer heat between the two races.

Also, when the biker accidently stepped on Buggin Out’s shoe and scuffed it, this shows how each culture was essentially walking all over each other, and there was little each could do to stay out of the others’ way. There was so much tension due to the fact that white people actually used black people as slaves at one point, and that there were so many other inequalities that were present with black people throughout the history of the United States. Much of the tension was also based on gentrification. For example, the black people were criticizing the white person for buying a home on their block, and they asked him why he would want to buy a home in a black neighbourhood. They also used the world  gentrification when describing what they thought of the man who decided to move into what they considered to be their neighbourhood.


Sal and his son, Vito, weren’t Eurocentric, or feel that their race was somehow superior to the others. The same could be said of the South Korean couple who owned the corner store, although they could have been saying at the end of the film, “I am like you,” just so their store wouldn’t be burned down. Furthermore, Mookie seemed to be very accepting of white people, and wasn’t at all racist, even though he threw a garbage can through the pizza restaurant’s window, which essentially started the riot (However, he was aware the restaurant had insurance). But for the most part, each person depicted in the film felt that their race was superior. This is similar to what is said in “Unthinking Eurocentrism.” For example, the text talks about the typical perception of people who have an opinion on Eurocentrism. This attitude, whether it was by the police or by Sal’s son, or, for that matter, by Radio Raheem, who consistently played “Fight the Power.” Instead, an ethnocentric attitude would be more precise to describe the attitudes of many of the people in the film. However, “Unthinking Eurocentrism” shines an accurate light on the type of perceptions that were evident in the film. “Although Eurocentrism and racism are historically intertwined – for example, the erasure of Africa as historical subject reinforces racism against African-Americans – they are in no way equitable, for the simple reason that Eurocentrism is the ‘normal’ consensus view of history that most First Worlders and even many Third Worlders learn at school and from the media” (3).

Each group felt they had a right to the neighbourhood. The Italian-Americans had been in the neighbourhood for 25 years and they felt they were entitled to stay. The white biker owned a home in the neighbourhood and he thought it was “a free country.” The South Koreans saw a business opportunity and they wanted to serve somewhere, and for whatever reason they decided to open up shop in Brooklyn. Finally, the black people felt it was the only place they could afford to live, and anyone else who moved in were causing gentrification. Each of the relationships look to be appropriate for the time, and this might still be the way things are in that neighbourhood. The film achieved its mission of depicting the challenges, tensions and misunderstandings of each group in the film, and the depiction shows the progress that has been made in race relations throughout Canada.

References Hooks, Bell.  Black Looks: Race and Representation . Boston: South End Press, 1992.

Shahat, Ella, and Robert Stab.  Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media  New York: Routledge, 1994.

Spike Lee,  Do the Right Thing.  Film, Spike Lee. (1989; Los Angeles: 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks/Universal Pictures, 1989). Film.


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What to know about the crisis of violence, politics and hunger engulfing Haiti

A woman carrying two bags of rice walks past burning tires

A long-simmering crisis over Haiti’s ability to govern itself, particularly after a series of natural disasters and an increasingly dire humanitarian emergency, has come to a head in the Caribbean nation, as its de facto president remains stranded in Puerto Rico and its people starve and live in fear of rampant violence. 

The chaos engulfing the country has been bubbling for more than a year, only for it to spill over on the global stage on Monday night, as Haiti’s unpopular prime minister, Ariel Henry, agreed to resign once a transitional government is brokered by other Caribbean nations and parties, including the U.S.

But the very idea of a transitional government brokered not by Haitians but by outsiders is one of the main reasons Haiti, a nation of 11 million, is on the brink, according to humanitarian workers and residents who have called for Haitian-led solutions. 

“What we’re seeing in Haiti has been building since the 2010 earthquake,” said Greg Beckett, an associate professor of anthropology at Western University in Canada. 

Haitians take shelter in the Delmas 4 Olympic Boxing Arena

What is happening in Haiti and why?

In the power vacuum that followed the assassination of democratically elected President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, Henry, who was prime minister under Moïse, assumed power, with the support of several nations, including the U.S. 

When Haiti failed to hold elections multiple times — Henry said it was due to logistical problems or violence — protests rang out against him. By the time Henry announced last year that elections would be postponed again, to 2025, armed groups that were already active in Port-au-Prince, the capital, dialed up the violence.

Even before Moïse’s assassination, these militias and armed groups existed alongside politicians who used them to do their bidding, including everything from intimidating the opposition to collecting votes . With the dwindling of the country’s elected officials, though, many of these rebel forces have engaged in excessively violent acts, and have taken control of at least 80% of the capital, according to a United Nations estimate. 

Those groups, which include paramilitary and former police officers who pose as community leaders, have been responsible for the increase in killings, kidnappings and rapes since Moïse’s death, according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program at Uppsala University in Sweden. According to a report from the U.N . released in January, more than 8,400 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in 2023, an increase of 122% increase from 2022.

“January and February have been the most violent months in the recent crisis, with thousands of people killed, or injured, or raped,” Beckett said.

Image: Ariel Henry

Armed groups who had been calling for Henry’s resignation have already attacked airports, police stations, sea ports, the Central Bank and the country’s national soccer stadium. The situation reached critical mass earlier this month when the country’s two main prisons were raided , leading to the escape of about 4,000 prisoners. The beleaguered government called a 72-hour state of emergency, including a night-time curfew — but its authority had evaporated by then.

Aside from human-made catastrophes, Haiti still has not fully recovered from the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed about 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless, many of them living in poorly built and exposed housing. More earthquakes, hurricanes and floods have followed, exacerbating efforts to rebuild infrastructure and a sense of national unity.

Since the earthquake, “there have been groups in Haiti trying to control that reconstruction process and the funding, the billions of dollars coming into the country to rebuild it,” said Beckett, who specializes in the Caribbean, particularly Haiti. 

Beckett said that control initially came from politicians and subsequently from armed groups supported by those politicians. Political “parties that controlled the government used the government for corruption to steal that money. We’re seeing the fallout from that.”

Haiti Experiences Surge Of Gang Violence

Many armed groups have formed in recent years claiming to be community groups carrying out essential work in underprivileged neighborhoods, but they have instead been accused of violence, even murder . One of the two main groups, G-9, is led by a former elite police officer, Jimmy Chérizier — also known as “Barbecue” — who has become the public face of the unrest and claimed credit for various attacks on public institutions. He has openly called for Henry to step down and called his campaign an “armed revolution.”

But caught in the crossfire are the residents of Haiti. In just one week, 15,000 people have been displaced from Port-au-Prince, according to a U.N. estimate. But people have been trying to flee the capital for well over a year, with one woman telling NBC News that she is currently hiding in a church with her three children and another family with eight children. The U.N. said about 160,000 people have left Port-au-Prince because of the swell of violence in the last several months. 

Deep poverty and famine are also a serious danger. Gangs have cut off access to the country’s largest port, Autorité Portuaire Nationale, and food could soon become scarce.

Haiti's uncertain future

A new transitional government may dismay the Haitians and their supporters who call for Haitian-led solutions to the crisis. 

But the creation of such a government would come after years of democratic disruption and the crumbling of Haiti’s political leadership. The country hasn’t held an election in eight years. 

Haitian advocates and scholars like Jemima Pierre, a professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, say foreign intervention, including from the U.S., is partially to blame for Haiti’s turmoil. The U.S. has routinely sent thousands of troops to Haiti , intervened in its government and supported unpopular leaders like Henry.

“What you have over the last 20 years is the consistent dismantling of the Haitian state,” Pierre said. “What intervention means for Haiti, what it has always meant, is death and destruction.”

Image: Workers unload humanitarian aid from a U.S. helicopter at Les Cayes airport in Haiti, Aug. 18, 2021.

In fact, the country’s situation was so dire that Henry was forced to travel abroad in the hope of securing a U.N. peacekeeping deal. He went to Kenya, which agreed to send 1,000 troops to coordinate an East African and U.N.-backed alliance to help restore order in Haiti, but the plan is now on hold . Kenya agreed last October to send a U.N.-sanctioned security force to Haiti, but Kenya’s courts decided it was unconstitutional. The result has been Haiti fending for itself. 

“A force like Kenya, they don’t speak Kreyòl, they don’t speak French,” Pierre said. “The Kenyan police are known for human rights abuses . So what does it tell us as Haitians that the only thing that you see that we deserve are not schools, not reparations for the cholera the U.N. brought , but more military with the mandate to use all kinds of force on our population? That is unacceptable.”  

Henry was forced to announce his planned resignation from Puerto Rico, as threats of violence — and armed groups taking over the airports — have prevented him from returning to his country.  

An elderly woman runs in front of the damaged police station building with tires burning in front of it

Now that Henry is to stand down, it is far from clear what the armed groups will do or demand next, aside from the right to govern. 

“It’s the Haitian people who know what they’re going through. It’s the Haitian people who are going to take destiny into their own hands. Haitian people will choose who will govern them,” Chérizier said recently, according to The Associated Press .

Haitians and their supporters have put forth their own solutions over the years, holding that foreign intervention routinely ignores the voices and desires of Haitians. 

In 2021, both Haitian and non-Haitian church leaders, women’s rights groups, lawyers, humanitarian workers, the Voodoo Sector and more created the Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis . The commission has proposed the “ Montana Accord ,” outlining a two-year interim government with oversight committees tasked with restoring order, eradicating corruption and establishing fair elections. 

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CORRECTION (March 15, 2024, 9:58 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated which university Jemima Pierre is affiliated with. She is a professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, not the University of California, Los Angeles, (or Columbia University, as an earlier correction misstated).

do the right thing analysis essay

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

do the right thing analysis essay

Char Adams is a reporter for NBC BLK who writes about race.

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Essays on Do The Right Thing

What makes a good do the right thing essay topics.

When it comes to writing an essay on the iconic film "Do The Right Thing" by Spike Lee, choosing the right topic is crucial. A good essay topic should be thought-provoking, engaging, and allow for in-depth analysis. It should also provide a unique perspective on the film and its themes. In this article, we will explore What Makes a Good Do The Right Thing essay topic and provide some recommendations on how to brainstorm and choose the perfect topic for your essay.

When brainstorming for essay topics on "Do The Right Thing," it's important to consider the themes and messages portrayed in the film. Some key themes to consider include racial tension, social injustice, community dynamics, and the impact of individual actions. Think about what aspects of the film resonated with you the most and consider how you can explore them in your essay.

In addition to the film's themes, it's also important to consider the characters, plot, and visual elements of "Do The Right Thing." Analyzing the character development, narrative structure, and cinematography can provide ample material for an engaging essay topic. Consider how the film uses these elements to convey its messages and explore how they contribute to the overall impact of the film.

A good essay topic should also be specific and focused. Instead of choosing a broad topic, try to narrow down your focus to a specific aspect of the film that interests you. This will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis and provide a more nuanced understanding of the film.

Lastly, a good essay topic should be relevant and timely. Consider how the themes of "Do The Right Thing" relate to current events and social issues. Choosing a topic that has contemporary relevance will not only make your essay more engaging but also demonstrate the enduring significance of the film's messages.

Best Do The Right Thing Essay Topics

  • The role of music in conveying the film's themes
  • The portrayal of racial tension and social injustice in the film
  • The impact of individual actions on community dynamics
  • The use of color and visual elements to convey the film's messages
  • The significance of the film's setting in Brooklyn, New York
  • The character development and motivations of Mookie
  • The role of women in "Do The Right Thing"
  • The portrayal of police brutality and its relevance today
  • The use of humor as a tool for social commentary in the film
  • The relationship between Sal and the members of the community
  • The significance of the film's title in relation to its themes
  • The impact of gentrification on the community portrayed in the film
  • The use of language and dialogue to convey the characters' perspectives
  • The portrayal of generational differences and conflicts in the film
  • The significance of the film's ending and its message
  • The impact of the heatwave on the characters' behavior and interactions
  • The portrayal of cultural identity and heritage in the film
  • The role of radio and media in shaping the characters' perspectives
  • The significance of the film's soundtrack in conveying its messages
  • The portrayal of love and relationships in the context of social tension

Do The Right Thing essay topics Prompts

  • Imagine you are a member of the community portrayed in "Do The Right Thing." How would you respond to the events depicted in the film?
  • Create a dialogue between Sal and Mookie after the film's climax. How would they reconcile their differences and move forward?
  • Explore the significance of the film's setting in Brooklyn, New York, and its impact on the characters' experiences.
  • Imagine an alternate ending for "Do The Right Thing" that conveys a different message. How would it change the film's impact?
  • Choose a specific scene from the film and analyze its use of visual and auditory elements to convey its messages.

Choosing the right essay topic for "Do The Right Thing" is essential to crafting a compelling and insightful analysis of the film. By considering the film's themes, characters, and visual elements, as well as its contemporary relevance, you can choose a topic that will allow for a meaningful exploration of the film's significance. With these recommendations and prompts, you can confidently select a unique and engaging topic for your "Do The Right Thing" essay.

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do the right thing analysis essay


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  1. Do the Right Thing Analysis

    The film Do the Right Thing, written, directed and produced by Spike Lee, focuses on a single day of the lives of racially diverse people who live and work in a lower class neighborhood in Brooklyn New York. However, this ordinary day takes place on one of the hottest days of the summer. The film centers on how social class, race and the moral ...

  2. Analysis of the Film 'Do the Right Thing'

    This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples. In Spike Lee's 1989 film, 'Do the Right Thing', small details in the film's setting come together to create an overall deeper meaning to the film. This controversial film is set in Brooklyn ...

  3. Do The Right Thing: Summary, Analysis

    Summary: Set on a city block during the hottest day of the summer in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant ('Bed-Stuy'), Do The Right Thing follows the character of 'Mookie' (Spike Lee), a pizza delivery boy, and a day in the life of the neighborhood residents as the climate gives way to escalating encounters and disputes.

  4. Do the Right Thing Film Analysis: [Essay Example], 605 words

    Do The Right Thing Film Analysis. Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) is about the day to day life in a Brooklyn neighborhood and the racial strains confined from within. It demonstrates the differences of the various characters of a modern neighborhood. Trust and brutality embody the ongoing troubles about racism in America.

  5. "Do the Right Thing" by Spike Lee: Film Analysis Essay

    Introduction. The movie "Do the Right Thing" by Spike Lee can be acclaimed as one of the most successful dramas released in 1989. This is no wonder as the film features outstanding play by actors, an interesting and thought-provoking layout, and good quality of its accomplishment. Overall, the film appears to be a great piece of film-making ...

  6. Do the right thing analysis and reflection

    Jarvis Lu. HIST 218. Do the Right thing analysis and reflection. In search of learning more about African American history during the African American history month, I attended the showing of the movie "Do the Right Thing". In this essay, I shall provide an overview of the movie and personal analysis of its meaning.

  7. Do The Right Thing Analysis

    Racism in the "Do the Right Thing" Movie "Do the Right Thing" Film by Spike Lee "Do the Right Thing" by Spike Lee: A Film Review; Afro-Americans in the "Do the Right Thing" Comedy; Twain's Works in "Say It Ain't So, Huck" by Jane Smiley; Gender in U.S. Films: "In the Heat of the Night" and "Do the Right Thing"

  8. Spike Lee "Do the Right Thing" Analysis

    He expressed his deep concern through thorough and scrupulous work on his films, which were praised by critics and audience and honored with most prestigious awards. One of the first and most recognizable movies was Do the Right Thing, where Lee played the role of one of the main characters. This film is highly recognized for its unique style ...

  9. Do the Right Thing

    Do the Right Thing is one of the best-directed, best- made films of our time, a film in which the technical credits, the acting, and Lee's brazenly fresh visual style all work together to make a statement about race in America that is all the more powerful because it blindsides us. Do the Right Thing was the finest, the most controversial ...

  10. Analysis of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing"

    Directed by Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing" is a powerful film that explores themes of racism, discrimination, and violence in urban settings. Through... read full [Essay Sample] for free. search. ... Do the Right Thing Film Analysis Essay. Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) is about the day to day life in a Brooklyn neighborhood and the ...

  11. "Do The Right Thing": Analysis of The Film's Scene

    Analysis of Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" Essay. Directed by Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing" is a powerful film that explores themes of racism, discrimination, and violence in urban settings. Through various film techniques, Lee addresses these issues in a thought-provoking [...] Do the Right Thing Film Analysis Essay.

  12. Do the Right Thing: A 30th Anniversary Essay and Analysis of ...

    "Do the Right Thing" looks aged, in the sense of the bright colors, bike shorts, and boomboxes that dominated the 80s. The story, however, has aged especially and depressingly well.

  13. "Do the Right Thing" Film by Spike Lee Essay (Critical Writing)

    Nothing happens when one person protests against the photos, but a riot that ends with death starts when a group of people unites. Spike Lee created Do the Right Thing to reveal the effects of racial discrimination and stereotypes. In the film, he describes the life of a neighborhood that unites African-Americans and Italian-Americans.


    Sample by My Essay Writer. S pike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," 1989, is an interesting look at several factors that played into the racial and ethnic relationship between white and black people in the 1980s. The story is centred around one hot day, when the dynamics between the two ethnicities boils over and spills into violence, and ...

  15. Spike Lee's Film Do The Right Thing Analysis

    Analyzing Do the Right Thing Do the Right Thing, is set in Brooklyn, New York during the nineteen eighties in a low-class neighborhood during one the hottest days of the summer. The focus of the film is on how economic superiority and race affects the moral decisions that the characters make how it has a direct effect on the way people interact ...

  16. Do the Right Thing: Crash Course Film Criticism #6

    Mainstream American films don't often tackle race and racism head-on, and when they do, they often end up trying to find easy answers. Which makes films lik...

  17. Analyzing The Film Shot Do The Right Thing

    Conclusion. In conclusion, "Do the Right Thing" stands as a timeless and poignant exploration of race, community, and morality. Through its vibrant visual style, nuanced portrayal of social and cultural issues, compelling characters, narrative structure, and lasting impact, the film continues to resonate with audiences and provoke meaningful conversations about the state of society.

  18. Do The Right Thing Analysis

    Analysis Of The Movie ' Do The Right Thing ' Essay In Spike Lee 's Do the Right Thing, the story takes places in 1989, another year in the long struggle for equality for African-Americans. The film portrays the racial tensions between locals of the neighborhood and an Italian-American family in the majority Black and Hispanic neighborhood of ...

  19. Analysis of Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing'

    This shows that Spike Lee's use of sound effects in this film was the key factor in how it received and set the mood for a very important reason, forgetting the audience's attention. In conclusion, when it comes to the movie 'Do the Right Thing' written and directed by Spike Lee, the movie has been focusing on how the people has been ...

  20. The Movie "Do the Right Thing"

    The Movie "Do the Right Thing" Essay. Exclusively available on IvyPanda. This controversial film illustrates one day of events in a black neighborhood. It shows the African American population's frustration with how they are being treated and how it elicits their reactions. The storyline also comments on other racial stereotypes ...

  21. Gentrification and Class System in the Film "Do The Right Thing"

    Pages: 4 (1959 words) Views: 2985. Grade: 5. Download. This paper will discuss the film Do The Right Thing (1989), directed by Spike Lee, as a source of historical knowledge emphasising housing and class systems that have been structured and set into the American consciousness. I aim to contextualize this movie in the discourse of housing and ...

  22. Do the right thing

    Do the right thing is a film by Spike Lee created in 1989. This essay aims to examine how the concept of "Right" thing has been developed citing examples from the film. ... Spike Lee attempts to bring out some of the characteristics of a "right" thing. From a careful analysis of the film, the author has clearly demonstrated that there are ...

  23. The Haiti crisis, explained: Violence, hunger and unstable political

    Chaos has gutted Port-au-Prince and Haiti's government, a crisis brought on by decades of political disruption, a series of natural disasters and a power vacuum left by the president's assassination.

  24. Essays on Do The Right Thing

    Analysis of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing". Directed by Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing" is a powerful film that explores themes of racism, discrimination, and violence in urban settings. Through various film techniques, Lee addresses these issues in a thought-provoking and impactful way. This essay will analyze the film's cinematography, sound...