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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.