24 February 2015

RANT: Hip-Hop Has Done More Damage To Black And Brown People Than Racism In The Last 10 Years

I had a plan. I wanted to post a TAPEDECK throwback video since I've been slacking with the posts this year. But as I was surfing the net (do the kids still say that?), I kept seeing Geraldo Rivera's name pop up on multiple hip hop sites. Rivera has been on TV since the 70s, but most know him currently as a Fox News personality (and if you follow the TMZ side of entertainment, you remember him from his Mr. Burns towel selfie). Rivera had an interview with Huff Post Live host Josh Zepps last week. He talked about his time on Celebrity Apprentice, Bill Cosby, his entire bio (he needed the host to know how awesome he is, because Zepps just asked him about the Geraldo talk show), Fox News, Brian Williams, The Daily Show, MSNBC, Stephen Colbert and GOP candidates. And somehow when asked about his political affiliation, Mr. Rivera went all David Blaine and magically inserted hip hop into the conversation. I wanted to transcribe the beginning of the hip hop section of interview to show how Rivera made a super smooth transition to hip hop when asked about this placement in the political spectrum.

Zepps: You talk about liberals and conservatives as if they were sort of equally, ideologically, in self-contained camps. Do you fit into either one of those? 

Rivera: No. I'm a militant moderate. I borrow from both. For instance, I am, as I mentioned, immigration reform, gay marriage and abortion are all things, that that's why I voted for Barack Obama three times. On the other hand, I hate that Benghazi has become pornographic. I think the way they flogged the Benghazi non-scandal I think is very unfortunate on the right side. But I think that, for instance, hip hop (SMOOTH TRANSITION). Hip hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years. 

From here on Rivera says that youngsters like Puerto Ricans from South Bronx or black kids from Harlem ruin their lives because only 1/10th of 1/10th of 1 percent make it in the music business. The rest are left with pants around their asses and visible tattoos. And that even though he loves his friend Russell Simmons ("I have a black friend, see?"), people like Simmons need to take responsibility for encouraging a culture that is removed from the mainstream. The only way these "youngsters" can participate in the mainstream society is by working "racks in garment centers" and other entry level jobs. Before we get into the hip hop part, I wanted to quickly address River's obsession with "urban" fashion. See back in 2012, in the middle of the Trayvon Martin case, Geraldo went on Fox and Friends and said, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was." And, "But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies."

So my turn. First I need to say that pulling the "I'm one of you so I can say whatever the hell I want" card is getting old. In the 2012 interview Geraldo also says that he yells at his "dark skinned" son when he goes out of the house in a hoodie or baggy pants. Listen, I had the same issues with my father. But he never made the insane leap to "if you wear a hoodie (or baggy pants), you can get shot." Geraldo's blanket statement is myopic and dangerous. If you want to be ignorant and administer your crazy ideology under your roof, go right ahead (sorry Geraldo's dark skin son). But if you have a platform (even if it's pseudo news at Fox) that reaches so many, the onus falls on you to be a bit more responsible. To single out hip hop culture as the catalyst for all of minorities woes is ignorant.

We could talk about the unequal education system afforded to minorities. Cities with high percentages of minorities have public school systems that are failing these youngsters. Almost half of the black and Latino students drop out, while only a quarter of whites students do. Areas with larger minority populations see this percentage increase well over 50% percent. Compared to other nations we are at best in the middle when it comes to math, science and reading (that's right..reading). If we only take the scores from black and Latino students we are closer the tail end of the spectrum. Our abysmal public education system adds to the classroom-to-prison problem. Oh yeah, and prison. The mass incarcerations for non-violent offensives is staggering. I will focus on just drug-related offenses or else this will turn into a dissertation (and if you have a violent offense, your ass needs to be locked up). More than half of the prison population is black or Latino. They are more likely to go to prison (and go to prison longer) than their white counterparts for the same offense. The war on drugs provided private prisons with a so many prisoners that they could almost pick and choose which ones they wanted. And younger minorities are much cheaper to maintain. In NY blacks and Latinos made up 80% of police stops. 85% from that group were frisked. How many white people were pulled over? 8%. This actually addresses the problem with law enforcement in general. The problem with these murders are not the victims, it is the officers who take the law into their own hands. 

Black kids/men are killed 4.5 times more than anyone else. But since Mr. Rivera is a respected "journalist", author and reporter, we must treat his comment as an educated statement. So, hoodies equals minority youngsters getting killed by police. Over the last decade there has been almost 100 men, women and children killed by police, but I'll just focus on the teenagerish ages (because the whole list is disheartening and depressing): Tamir Rice age 12, Michael Brown age 18, Andy Lopez age 13, Deion Fludd age 17, Kimani Gray age 16, Reynaldo Cuevas age 20, Ervin Jefferson age 18, Kendrec McDade age 19, Wendell Allen age 20 (this dude was shirtless), Ramarley Graham age 18, Kenneth Harding age 19, Raheim Brown age 20, Danroy Henry age 20, Kiwane Carrington age 15, Victor Steen age 17, Oscar Grant age 22, DeAunta Terrel Farrow age 12, Timothy Stansbury age 19, Timothy Thomas age 19. There are so many more unarmed people who lost their lives, and if you want the whole list go to Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police. I didn't see mentions of these kids wearing hoodies. What I did notice is that the kids were unarmed and the police were never charged for the murders. So I will add hip hop to the list of things I don't want to hear come out of Geraldo's mouth. You are not an ambassador to the culture or minorities in general. Just because you listen to the radio and watch some BET award show doesn't make you a subject expert. Hip hop is not the corporations that push the product, it is the voice of the people and the message of an underprivileged segment of the population that wants the same opportunities as the rest. Just because you are Hispanic doesn't mean you can talk about struggles that you haven't experienced. I'm not saying it is your fault that you didn't come up in the struggle or the culture, what I'm saying is don't make comments about an entire segment of the population without doing some more research. Stay in your lane, hip hop does not need you. Oh, and I didn't address the part that racism does less damage than hip hop because that made my head hurt. Thanks Geraldo.

Peep part of interview below. If you want the entire interview, visit www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/geraldo-rivera-hip-hop-racism_n_6701628.html. 

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