Friday, March 23, 2012

Damn Hoodies, Suspicion, And Common Sense: Trayvon Martin

Let's be clear, there is nothing wrong with hoodies. However, this does not mean that my parents would allow them at the dinner table. Hoodies worn to keep the head warm is one thing, but when used as a device to conceal identity, now that's a whole other kettle of fish.

In graduate school, I used to wear my hoodie (off my head) into the Harvard Coop in the fall/winter, just hoping the staff would accost me the way they did the local black kids dressed the same. It bothered my former spouse that I would dress, as a grown man, so 'poorly' to go to the Square, but the profiling always bothered me more.

However, as much as it pains me, Geraldo Rivera's concern is right (here). In less than a hot minute, (except if we are at home) I would tell my son to pull down the hood, pull up the pants, AND take your damn hands out of your pockets! My dad said those very words to me many times. Dead black men/boys can't protest!

Looking like you are about to rob a place or somebody is not smart. However, walking down the street with a beverage and candy, hoody-on or not, is not menacing. To this my old man more likely would have asked why I was acting like it is cold when it is 70 degrees outside.

The bottom-line. There are types of behavior that should draw suspicion. Overcoats in the summer, dark glasses at night, loitering near places that are easily robbed. Baggy clothes that might conceal a weapon always catch my eye. Hoodies 'up' indoors. But this is not a kid walking down the street minding his own business.

To this day, I do not wear sunglasses indoors and I am mindful of how I appear upon entering establishments, especially banks. It's just common sense in a world where simply being black can be a threat.

Trayvon Martin should be alive today!

James C. Collier


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Looking To Escape said...

I never liked hoodies, there is something really creepy about them.
I never saw it as a race thing but I suppose in the minds of many hoodies could be considered a trademark for black criminals.
Oddly, hoods on winter jackets never bothered me.
Now, if I see you wearing sunglasses, I'd just assume you think you're a Hollywood movie star.

a.eye said...

I am a hood junkie when I am outside in cold weather. But I am a woman and people (I think) can tell that when I am walking.

As a teacher, we always tell students to take hoods off no matter their race. I don't think of it as a black or white thing.

But I am especially worried about all of this with Martin. I think that it is especially saddening to know that there are still other "neighborhood watchmen" who say that George was justified in what he did.

I really hope that that man is held accountable. And soon. This is taking too long to see justice.

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Let's talk real here,your father and I think correctly on the hoodie image,why we as Black folk continue to fall for images created by Hollywood and clothing manufactures still baffles my mind.Do you think for one nano second that that hoodlum look is going to put any legal money in your pocket?Do you think for one second that hoodie image is going to get you a interview for a job that you are hoping to land?Come on folks the hoodie is a distraction for our community,lets as fathers and mothers get up off of our rusty dusty and start teaching our children the reality of this racist society that we live in!

Anonymous said...

No one, police or civilian, is justified in detaining someone, for no other reason that he or she is wearing a hoodie. A hoodie, on it's own, is a benign piece of clothing.

However, the "million hoodie march" in support of Martin is ignorant, naive, and counter-productive. A person's choice of attire reveals a great deal about the character of him or her. Whether we like it or not, the hoodie is an article of clothing that has assumed its own identity. As the preferred dress of thugs and gangsters, the hoodie now embodies a spirit of criminality. It has become a counter-cultural symbol of "gangstas." And as such, anyone who wears a hoodie should reasonably expect others to draw completely logical stereotypical impressions about him or her. Wearing a hoodie does not mean one is a criminal, but it does mean that one wishes to convey that notion to others.

Allow me to illustrate my point with an even worse fashion taboo. If I were to grow out the hairs immediately beneath my nose and shave the rest of my face in the style of Charlie Chaplin, I could reasonably expect others to treat me with contempt. Why? Because Adolf Hitler single-handedly ended that moustache style. Despite my love of Charlie Chaplin, I can never emmulate his moustache style, because everyone I meet would assume me to be a Neo-Nazi. Is there anything inherently wrong with shaving my moustache that way? No, of course not. But I would be stupid not to expect suspicious and mistrustful looks from everyone around me.

The hooide, like the "Hilter-moustache" is a symbol. Symbols have meaning. And you can't take a symbol and display it on your body and not expect to be associated with the ideas of those symbols.

So please... stop wearing hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin. I'm certainly not going to wear a Hitler-moustache as a tribute to Charlie Chaplin.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid this issue will cause more violence. More information is coming out that makes it seem it was not totally Zimmermans fault.

A witness backs up police reports that claim Zimmerman was beaten by Martin who was on top of him and that Zimmerman had a broken nose and other injuries and stains on his back that are evidence he was on his back and being beaten.

The media has stirred this thing up into a hornets nest before all the facts are in and who knows where it will end.

I just hope it doesn't end with more violence.

It is a true and sad tragedy this young man is dead but there is more to it than the racial one sided murder that entirely too many want it to be.