Kiss frontman Gene Simmons believes a hard stance needs to be taken on racism in America. Speaking with the Daily Mail, the 71-year-old rocker got candid with his views, telling the outlet he was disgusted by the racism he sees in America and declaring that a hardline approach needs to be taken to weed racists, who he compared to cockroaches, out. According to Simmons, racists should be identified, publicly shamed, and fired from their jobs.
Speaking on the current state of the nation, Simmons said, "you've got to confront" racism in America before it can get better. Simmons said the problem of racism has long been an issue and is still present today, and reflected on his own experiences, recalling the judgment he and his ex Diana Ross received as an interracial couple. Simmons said, "there's no question that when we walked down the street… people would look at you and think, 'What's she doing with him? What's he doing with her?' A dismissive thing because she's black and I'm white." He said these problems still exist today, and extreme measures need to be taken to put an end to them.
"You've got to turn on the light and go after those cockroaches. And don't just chase them out. Find out where they live. Identify them, make their lives miserable – legally. Shine the light on that cockroach," he said. "The guy with his drunken buddies hurling racial epithets, take photos of him. This guy's name is so-and-so and he lives right outside of Manchester and works in this garage. Guess what the garage is gonna do? They're going to fire his ass right away because they don't want the attention of hiring a hate-monger."
In the interview, Simmons also opened up about his own experiences, revealing that at the age of 13, he faced his first experiences of anti-Semitism when a boy attempted to keep him out of a YMCA pool because he was Jewish. Simmons told the outlet he remembered two boys getting in his face once he got out of the pool, with one telling him, "'What are you doing here? You're Jewish.'"
"He started talking about Nazis. I remember thinking about my mother and everything. I leaned forward and said, 'Sorry I can't hear you,'" he recalled. "As he got in my face, I smashed my forehead against his nose. Of course, he started bleeding and fell into the pool. And I was thrown out of the YMCA."
Simmons, whose Hungarian mother survived the Holocaust, credited the experience, as well as many others he has faced throughout his life, for leading him to champion stamping out prejudice. This week, the rocker joined more than 170 Black and Jewish leaders from the entertainment industry to launch the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance (BJEA), a "joint initiative by black and Jewish entertainment industry professionals devoted to countering racism and anti-Semitism in the entertainment community." Simmons said BJEA would "elevate voices in the entertainment community that can help the public to better understand the causes, manifestations, and effects of racism and anti-Semitism, ensuring that our industry is doing its part to be a voice for hope, unity, and healing in our country."