Racism, Rap and Why White America Does Not Want to Think About Them

Fox News is known to make thoughtless and harmful statements on contemporary American politics and culture, and this week it was Geraldo Rivera’s turn to spurn controversy over the popular news network. In an interview, he discussed his strong feelings against the hip-hop genre, claiming that it has “done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years.” He mentioned in the same interview his friendship with African-American rap mogul Russell Simmons, which Simmons denied exists, and also justified his claim by stating that hip-hop artists push African-Americans and Latinos from “mainstream” America, encouraging them to sag their pants and wear tattoos all over their body.

This was not the first time Geraldo Rivera has made nonsensical comments against the African-American community. In discussing the Trayvon Martin case, he believed that the black male’s hoodie was “as much responsible for [his] death as George Zimmerman.” Although he loves to point out that he grew up in New York City and is Puerto Rican, he does not understand the racism that minority group’s face in the United States, how that has affected African-American culture as a result, and, most importantly, why his statements are nothing more than explicitly racist sentiments from a privileged, indoctrinated member of white American society.

Contrary to what Rivera believes, hip-hop did not begin with images of sagging pants, tattoos, drugs and violence. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the genre had its start, groups like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, N.W.A, and Public Enemy made songs that were filled with social commentary, delving into the issues of racism and gang violence that plagued hundreds of African-American urban communities in the latter half of the 20th century and worsened during the cocaine influx of the Reagan Era.

However, the notion that socially aware hip-hop does not exist anymore is also false. All of rapper Kendrick Lamar’s music is meaningful and deals with issues of police violence and African-American pride and self-respect, from both his albums and his new single “The Blacker the Berry” only two weeks old. Emcee J. Cole’s album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, released only three months ago, discusses the social ills that limit the financial success of blacks in America while also discussing how new white artists like Iggy Azalea and Macklemore have stolen hip-hop in the same way that Elvis stole the blues and rock n’ roll in the forties and fifties. Some hip-hop artists, like Common, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli make some of the most socially-tinged lyrics of all time in the genre, and have been producing music for over two decades. Obviously, it is absurd to believe that these artists, who are some of the most popular rappers in the world, are a negative influence on the younger generation of American minorities, and only proves that Rivera only based his opinions on a select few hip-hop artists that he specifically chose to slander the black community.

This is not to say, though, that gangster rap, which Rivera is concerned about, has no place in the genre. On the contrary, it is socially aware, albeit in an indirect manner. When Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Rick Ross rap about their financial success and material wealth, they discuss what they and the black community desires: wealth. It is not hard to realize that, in a country that has established laws in order to limit the freedoms and financial success of African-Americans, blacks have come to value the financial security that has been out of their reach since they arrived in this so-called “Land of the Free.” Hip-hop, just like the blues, is simply the outlet through which blacks could voice their feelings on unequal lack of opportunity in this country. Also, with non-black artists like Iggy Azalea, Pitbull, and LMFAO taking over the image of financial wealth and materialism in their own music (This is something Rivera innocently neglects to talk about during his rant); rap based on materialistic gains is slowly becoming a genre for all groups and not only African-Americans.

Although this type of musical assimilation into white American culture may validate the importance of black America’s contribution to society, in many other ways it limits the solidarity and pride in black culture. African-American rappers such as Azealia Banks have openly criticized white artists for stealing hip-hop, as shown through her tweets and the amount of Grammys given to white rappers. However, the way Banks phrases her social critiques are not necessarily correct.  If one were to believe Azealia, then all rock and blues music made by white artists should be discarded on the basis that they originate from the blues, a genre created by African-Americans as a means of voicing their qualms and sorrows in a Jim Crow America. This idea is clearly nonsensical, since it would require throwing away whole sub-genres of excellent, influential music. In fact, the true problem facing hip-hop now is that Caucasian artists are not giving respect to the black artists before them that established the genre, nor are they assisting the African-American community in dealing with the legal and cultural chains that America has placed them in. Nobody has a problem with Eminem because he has clearly stated that he was influenced and inspired by great emcees like Rakim and Nas, while Iggy Azalea never gives credit to the people that created the genre of music that she is profiting from. This issue is exacerbated when racial tensions rise in America after a Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown incident, and, while Eminem voices his support for the protests in Ferguson, Azalea chooses to ignore the issue rather than help, a bold statement made by someone who owes all of her success to those very same African-American communities that are plagued with racial tension and hatred.

Sadly, nothing mentioned thus far will ever enlighten the minds of people like Geraldo Rivera. They do not see the nuances of the hip-hop concern, and do not understand the plight and racism that indirectly led to its creation. Instead, they blame the one last vestige of truly black culture as the reason why African-Americans, victims of societal maltreatment, are still impacted by racism today. Although African-Americans are not completely innocent (Black gang members are still guilty of the murder and drug dealing they do), white America must also understand and actively change what their forefathers did in this country to imprison the black community in a system that lacks social ladders for minorities while also promoting the self-hatred which sparks the exorbitant amount of illegal activity in black communities. Granted, it is a tough pill to swallow, and many would rather pull a Geraldo Rivera in an attempt to free themselves from guilt. However, if he truly wanted to improve hip-hop, he would start with the African-American communities around the country that created it instead of falsely accusing them of the moral degradation that he has clearly shown in his statements to be guiltier of.


  1. Restore Pride In Parenting; End Child Abuse & Neglect

    Victims of Horrific Child Abuse; Young American Kendrick Lamar Boldly Speaks About Child Abuse, The Seeds of Poverty and Crime

    In his 2015 Grammy award winning Rap Performance titled “I”, Kendrick Lamar writes, “I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.”

    During a January 20, 2011 LAWeekly interview (Google search) Kendrick, born in 1987, the same year songwriter Suzanne Vega wrote a song about child abuse and VICTIM DENIAL that was nominated for a Grammy award, he told the interviewer:

    “Lamar’s parents moved from Chicago to Compton in 1984 with all of $500 in their pockets. “My mom’s one of 13 [THIRTEEN] siblings, and they all got SIX kids, and till I was 13 everybody was in Compton,” he says.”

    “I’m 6 years old, seein’ my uncles playing with shotguns, sellin’ dope in front of the apartment. My moms and pops never said nothing, ’cause they were young and living wild, too. I got about 15 stories like ‘Average Joe.'”

    It seems evident to me Kendrick identified the source of his depression, the roots of poverty, the child abuse/maltreatment that prevented him, his brothers, sisters, cousins, neighborhood friends and elementary and JHS classmates from enjoying a fairly happy, safe Average Joe and Josie American kid childhood.

    Seems the adults responsible for raising the children in Kendrick’s immediate and extended family placed obstacles in their children’s way, causing their kids to deal with challenges and stresses young minds are not prepared to deal with…nor should they or any other children be exposed to and have to deal with.

    It seems evident to me these PARENTAL INTRODUCED obstacles and challenges cause some developing children’s minds to become tormented and go haywire, not knowing OR NOT CARING ABOUT right from wrong…because as the mature, young victims of child abuse realize their parents introduced them to a life of pain and struggle, totally unlike the mostly safe, happy life the media showed them many American kids were enjoying. RESENTMENT

    I cannot speak for anyone else, but if I was raised in Kendrick’s family I would most likely be silently peeved at my parents for being immature irresponsible “living wild” adults who deprived me of a safe, happy childhood.

    Though like many victims of child abuse, most likely I would deny my parents harmed me, seeking to blame others for the pain my parents caused to me.

    I wonder how little Kendrick and his classmates reacted when their elementary school teacher introduced the DARE presenter and they learned about the real dangers of drugs and how they harm people, including their parents?

    In a Oct 25, 2012, LAWeekly interview (Google search) Kendrick talks about being a SIX-YEAR-OLD child who was not able to trust and rely on his mom…essentially he speaks about being emotionally abandon by his own mom.

    Kendrick shares his experiences about feeling lonely, which if you read up on Cognitive Dissonance that Dr. Joy Degruy writes about in her book, “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (PTSS)”, is it perfectly understandable why Kendrick feels lonely.

    Search Google “Post traumatic Disorder Dr Joy de Gruy Leary – YouTube” to watch a very disturbing yet enlightening 1:21:00 lecture about “Cognitive Dissonance” and how it harms developing kids like Kendrick. Dr. DeGruy does an excellent job describing how “CD” helped perpetuate the human ignorances we call racism and slavery.

    Dr. DeGruy also describes how using our common sense, we should be able to understand how “CD” can negatively impact developing children like Kendrick Lamar (born 1987), as well as Tupac Shakur (born 1971) and Shawn ‘Jay Z Carter’ (born 1969), to name a few more victims of horrific child abuse.

    Early in my police career when I was assigned to the Brooklyn community *Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter* raps/writes about attempting destroy by selling poison to people living and working in his community, and rapping about engaging in extremely harmful anti-social behaviors designed to protect his drug operation from rival gangs in adjoining neighborhoods, a few of my training officers advised me to be prepared to experience “culture shock.”

    I did find out what “culture shock” is, though it was not a culture of violence and harmful anti-social activities many were insinuating I would be shocked by.

    The aspect of this Brooklyn, NY community that shocked me to the core was witnessing children being emotionally scarred by a “American Sub-Culture of Child Abuse/Neglect” that Kendrick Lamar raps and speaks about some twenty-five years after I first witnessed the “American Sub-Culture of Child Abuse/Neglect” that today CONTINUES emotionally damaging many developing children and their communities.

    I personally witnessed the emotional trauma and physical pain a young, neglected, unsupervised, Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter is responsible for causing, and its aftermath, leaving a community populated by mostly peaceful people fearing for their safety on a 24/7 basis, which are the hours Shawn’s crew/gang were selling community harming substances.

    During the twelve years I served this community I met hundreds of peaceful people who were just as shaken, upset and deeply disturbed as I was by the daily displays of violence and other anti-social activities mostly caused by teens and adults who were victims of childhood abuse and neglect.

    I was lucky, at the end of my workday I could leave the community, returning to a more peaceful residential community were concerns for me and my family’s safety were significantly lower.

    However, virtually all of my civilian co-workers, mostly loving, competent moms living in this community were not as fortunate. They were burdened with stresses and challenges my parents did not face to any significant degree.

    The added stresses and challenges my peaceful co-workers faced was preventing their children from being negatively influenced by abused/neglected/unsupervised children being raised and nurtured by immature, “living wild” teen moms and young women who irresponsibly begin building families before they acquired the skills, maturity, PATIENCE and means to independently provide for their family of developing children.

    Reading Kendrick’s background, if you have any compassion for kids, you have to feel horrible for a FIRST GRADE school child who can’t depend on his mom to be there for him, a mom who exposes him to things kids should not have to witness and deal with in their young minds.

    Kendrick has taken a bold first step by revealing his mother (and father) made poor choices that deprived him, his brothers and sisters from experiencing a safe, fairly happy Average Joe or Josie American kid childhood….YET NO ONE IS LISTENING TO KENDRICK….WHY?


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