Controversial. Political. Racial: “Spanish Lake,” A New Documentary

We all face a time when we look back on our childhood and become nostalgic–especially nostalgic about the place where we grew up. Director takes his audience back to where he grew up as a child in Spanish Lake. But to his dismay, Spanish Lake has changed, and arguably not for the best.

The documentary gives a detailed timeline of the development of Spanish Lake from the past to the present; from no government control to government implementing taxations, and then control once again. But besides giving historical context and facts, the film presents a personal story that is heartfelt. The director paints a picture of what Spanish Lake once meant to him and how it has developed into something completely foreign.

Spanish Lake was a rural community with little to no government involvement. It was a close-knit and predominantly white community. However, this drastically began to change over the years and what was once a community that was dominated by caucasians is now predominantly African-American.

The documentary presents the idea of white flight and the role that real estate companies played in changing the shape of the community. The documentary challenges the idea of race and government and begs the question: Why exactly did the people flee from Spanish Lake in the first place?

White flight is the departure of white residents from areas where non-white people are settling. The fact that people fled from Spanish Lake when African-Americans started to move into the community has resulted in the perception that the people of Spanish Lake are racist. In fact, in the film, one of the past community members stated that “[Spanish Lake has] changed, it’s become really dark.” Is it fair to say that people left due to the influx other cultures and people of different races moving into their homogenous community?

However, there is much more to the story. The cause of the drastically changed town can be seen as a result of the government implementing public housing and in effect destroying what once was a rural community and turning it into a ghetto. As the government implemented the Section 8 voucher system that allowed people with low-income to have a house in the United States, it also created a fear of declining property value, which in turn allowed the neighborhood to change for the worse.

spanish lake still 4

The documentary itself allows the audience to gain a personal and emotional connection with those who are interviewed. This also allows the viewers to gain an understanding to some degree of what it meant to be apart of a close-knit community–something that is dying in our day and age, and which is evident in Spanish Lake. The interviews demonstrate the raw emotions of the people in an unbiased way. The interviewees include those who left Spanish Lake due to racial mixing and those who moved because Spanish Lake was no longer a safe place to live, as it has become a slum due to bad government policies.

Is this an argument against or for racial-mixing? Or is this an argument involving the government and the issue of politics and power?

The film will be released June 13 and it is definitely worth watching if you are interested in issues of race and government corruption. What is your take?



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1 Comment

  • Reply June 5, 2014


    This director shed light on an issue that needed attention