Spike Lee: President Trump is a 'bullhorn' for racism

Believes racists have been given 'green light'

By SOFIA BARRETT AND LEINZ VALES, CNN
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Director Spike Lee attends the Premiere Of Focus Features' 'BlacKkKlansman' at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on August 8, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

(CNN) - Spike Lee believes racists in America have been given the "green light" from the White House.

"Since [President Trump] has gotten into the White House, it is not even a dog whistle, it's a bullhorn," Lee said. "We've seen a rise to the right. It's not just America, it's worldwide."

The two-time Academy Award nominee spoke Thursday to CNN's Anderson Cooper about his new film, "BlacKkKlansman," which tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs police force in the 1970s. It chronicles how Stallworth, played by John David Washington, managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.

"BlacKkKlansman," is set to release Friday, one day before the one-year anniversary of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left counter-protester Heather Heyer dead.

Lee told Cooper that the release date for his latest film was intentional.

"The President of the United States had a chance to denounce hate," the director said. "The whole world saw what happened and he didn't do it."

Lee is no stranger to films about race in America, gaining notoriety with films like "Do The Right Thing" and "4 Little Girls."

Cooper asked the director if he would sit down with Trump. Lee said, "No," adding that he refuses to call Trump by his name, instead referring to him as "Agent Orange."

Asked what he hopes the audience will get out of the film, Lee said, "I'm very leery of providing takeaways. I respect the audience's intelligence too much."

"But if we just look at this film, and look at the ending, we got to do better," he added.

The film ends with archival footage from the Charlottesville rally.

"That was one of the things we wanted to do, connect the past to the present," Lee said.

"We did not want this to just be a history lesson. Even though it took place in the '70s, we still wanted it contemporary," Lee added. "A lot of things, phrases, things like that, said way before the '70s were they was saying them and you hear them today in the lexicon of politics and guys in office."

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