Geraldo Rivera: Hip Hop, Russell Simmons Has Done More Damage Than Racism
Apparently, appearances mean everything to Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera.
The longtime talk show host called out hip hop and Russell Simmons in particular for encouraging "people to be so different from the mainstream that they can't participate," he told HuffPost Live amid a conversation about whether or not he considers himself liberal or conservative.
"I'm a militant moderate," he said, noting that he voted for Barack Obama three times, and he hates the way the right handled Benghazi. But he also thinks, "for instance... hip hop has done more damage to Black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years."
Nevermind that hip hop is not exclusively liberal, Rivera goes on to pinpoint fashion choices and centuries-old traditions like tattoos as the root of the problem. "When you find the youngster — a Puerto Rican from the South Bronx or a Black kid from Harlem — who has succeeded in life other than being the one-tenth of one-tenth of one percent that make it in the music business, that's been a success in life, walking around with his pants around his a** and with visible tattoos... it is this whole ethos," he said.
His stream of consciousness then immediately jumps to Russell Simmons. "I love Russell Simmons, he's a dear friend of mine. I admire his business acumen," Rivera said. "At some point, those guys have to cop to the fact that by encouraging this distinctive culture that is removed from the mainstream. They have encouraged people to be so different from the mainstream that they can't participate other than, you know, the racks in the garment center and those entry-level jobs. And I lament it. I really do. I think that it has been very destructive culturally."
Rivera's fashion sense has been a topic of discussion before. In 2012, he was called out for saying on air that Trayvon Martin's hooded sweatshirt is "as much responsible" for his death as the shooter was. He apologized, and Simmons did not accept. "Geraldo, your apology is bulls**t!" he said via an open letter posted to his website. "Your apology is nothing but a defense of a racist, backward thing you already said."
As of this posting, Simmons has yet to respond to Rivera's "damage" claims. Although, there is this recent message on his Twitter: "If we strip away our egos, desires, fears, and insecurities, all that would be left is happiness."
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(Photos from left: Rommel Demano/Getty Images, Jason Merritt/Getty Images for The Hawn Foundation)