I was shocked today to read Geraldo Rivera saying that Trayvon Martin would be alive today if he weren't wearing a hoodie.
You see, I work with a guy who wears a hoodie. And it is definitely a statement. He is very slim. He wears sunglasses that cover most of his face. He has earphones in all the time and rather than walking, he grooves. He is dark skinned. And, I will fully admit that when I first met him, his look startled me. Because he was definitely making a statement with it. And I have learned that his statement--at least to me--was "I am who I am and if you're interested in finding out who I am, I'll be right here in my hoodie. I'm easy to find."
But I wasn't afraid of him.
There are a lot of people in my life and the world that I live in who have distinctive looks--some more accessible than others. I've actually met Johnny Rotten and, for real, the guy's whole persona is really aggressive. In real life, he's lovely. I've never understood the whole idea of having really scary tattoos but, honestly, I have found that most of the people I've met with scary tattoos are pussycats.
So this whole "I was afraid of this guy because he was wearing a hoodie" thing just doesn't hold water with me. It's as if the world is saying racism really doesn't have anything to do with race. It's about fashion.
So of course that got me thinking about the hoodie. I went to Catholic school for 12 years so I spent a lot of time with people who covered their heads. Wimple=Hoodie. And I never shot a nun.
I grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood and I have a friend who is a very observant Jew (we'll be talking about the sweaters for her new twins soon). She covers her head. And I never shot her.
Baseball players cover their head with a cloth cap (yeah--I get it, it has a visor, but they usually have on sunglasses too so the visor is redundant.) I've never shot them.
Covering your head is common. Unless you're black. And then, for some unfathomable reason, it is a huge threat.
Should I embrace the hoodie? No I probably won't. Because it's not my look. I can respect you without emulating you, thank you very much. Should my friend from work who wears a hoodie suddenly start knitting just so that we can have something in common. Of course not. And by the way, I am much more intrigued by people who I have nothing in common with than those who mirror my life.
I don't get it. I never will. It blows my mind that in 2012 a young man can be shot for being black. It also blows my mind that a woman's body is not her own. It blows my mind that teachers are paid shit. It blows my mind that there are so many things that blow my mind.
I don't fear young black men in hoodies. What I really fear is what legacy we are leaving behind and what the history books will say about each and every one of us.