NYC's hip-hop community reacted with a combination of disbelief, disappointment and head shaking to Geraldo Rivera's comments about the damage created by the music genre when compared to racism.
"Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years," Rivera said in an interview posted Monday night on HuffPost Live.
He also suggested it would be hard to find "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 [expletive] and with visible tattoos."
Rivera, who is a Fox News correspondent, said he lamented hip-hop's "distinctive culture," because he believed "it has been very destructive culturally," leaving kids fit only for "entry level jobs."
While Rivera, 71, was derided as "a truly poisonous bucket of bile" and "The King of Trash TV" on Twitter, local hip-hop artists and advocates reacted more like sober adults shaking their heads at a disgruntled curmudgeon railing against the kids in his yard.
"Clearly, he's ignorant of the art form and the culture that he is so vituperatively denouncing," said Daniel Gallant, excutive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café. "This is someone who wants to be trending on Twitter ... Ignorance, despair and jealousy give rise to ridiculous invective and he's desperate for visibility and click-throughs," Gallant said.
The comments weren't much of a shock to Matthew Jefferson, 24, aka YC The Cynic, a hip-hop artist from Hunts Point, Bronx.
"I'm not surprised by anyone from Fox News anymore," said Jefferson, noting that the "ignorant, racist statement," is ridiculous on its face: The results of racism -- stop-and-frisk policing, the militarization of police forces and discriminatory housing and educational policies -- have been infinitely more detrimental to people of color than any art form ever invented, noted Jefferson. As for the dapper newsman's clothing critique, stereotypical "statements about how people dress are really racist," Jefferson sighed.
Rivera who tweeted out a picture of himself nude in July 2013, attributed Trayvon Martin's death to the teenager's haberdashery, noting in 2012 that "the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman," the man who killed him. Rivera later apologized for his remarks.
Rivera "is not relevant, but the problem is he has a platform, and his platform feeds into the minds of the George Zimmermans and Darren Wilsons," said RodStarz, 34, MC for the bilingual hip-hop group Rebel Diaz, referring to the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who killed Michael Brown.
Kvetching commentary such as Rivera's does not contribute "to the culture in a constructive way ... One of our mottos is you can't just oppose, you have to propose: If he has a problem with hip-hop, let him bring his Fox News money to the South Bronx and fund a music program," RodStarz said..
Rivera is no longer known as a journalist who uncovered the shocking conditions of patients at Staten Island's Willowbrook State School in the early 1970s, observed Erik Maldonado, 34, aka The Advocate of Wordz, from the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. "Fame does funny things to people," and by asserting that music is more dangerous to people of color than racism, Rivera has proved himself to be out of touch entirely with a musical genre that has, in the words of Gallant, been used to "elevate, educate and instigate" needed social change to a highly diverse audience.
"About 75% of the people who buy hip-hop are white," Maldonado noted.