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Hoodies Are for Hoodlums

Blaming Trayvon Martin’s apparel is unsound reasoning

by Published: Mar 29, 2012

On March 22, members of Ferris’ NAACP and a number of other students helped draw awareness to the death of Trayvon Martin with a Hoodie March in the quad.

The march was one of many nationwide rallies protesting the shooting of 17-year-old Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Public figures such as former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and the NBA’s Miami Heat have all been seen wearing dark hooded sweatshirts in honor of Martin.

As the public searches for motives such as race and age to explain Zimmerman’s reason for following Martin, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera recently blamed Martin’s hoodie as the culprit.

According to Rivera, Martin’s hooded sweatshirt was just as much responsible for Martin’s death as George Zimmerman. Rivera warned African-American and Latino males to be cautious of wearing hoodies because it portrays a “gangsta” image.

The belief that a hooded sweatshirt worn by individuals of a different race or gender perpetuates a stereotype of criminal behavior is one built on ignorance.

Blaming Martin’s sweatshirt for his shooting is the equivalent of blaming a blouse for an act of sexual assault. It fails to address the more important issue of a continuing lack in cultural understanding due to a failure in addressing racial stereotypes.

Surely Martin’s hooded sweatshirt didn’t influence Zimmerman’s decision to shoot more than the preconceived beliefs

Zimmerman had of African-American teenagers prior to Feb. 26.

Though Rivera defended his stance by explaining hooded sweatshirts are often criminal apparel, skateboarders, college students and athletes also wear hoodies.

Zimmerman’s actions were influenced by a sense of paranoia founded in racial ignorance. Therefore, requesting the rehabilitation of the stylization of hooded sweatshirts is both unrealistic and unnecessary. A genuine step forward for our society is enforcing a fair judicial system and sparking racial debate.