“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta, you’re going to be a gangsta-wannabe, well people are going to perceive you as a menace." - Geraldo Rivera
What was your first reaction? Yeah, mine too. But then I dug a little deeper within myself. Rivera’s not entirely wrong, and it’s because we are not entirely right.
Boys don’t deserve to be shot because they’re wearing a hoodie and packing a box of Skittles. Girls don’t deserve to be assaulted because they wore a mini-skirt.
I didn’t deserve to have my hair cut off because for trying to look pretty one day when I was thirteen years old. Didn’t deserve a beating at age seven because I wouldn’t tattle on my brother. I certainly didn’t deserve to become a date-rape statistic because I was drunk.
Many would disagree.
Here’s my truth: If I see someone skulking around in a hoodie, with the low-slung jeans, acting suspicious in any way, it makes me think a little harder about where I am, how well lit the area is, and what I’m doing. What I do not look at is the color of their skin. It’s about behavior, and yes, appearance, but not race. I’ve also been skirmish around people who might be dressed in fine formal wear but still act like they’re tweeked out on drugs and looking for a fight.
"If you dress like a hoodlum eventually some schmuck is going to take you at your word. Remember Elvis’ ‘In the ghetto’? or that old Johnny Cash song about not taking ‘your guns to town son, leave your guns at home Bill, don’t take your guns to town?’"
Perception is everything.
Go to Youtube, do a search on armed robberies, watch the security videos, come back here and tell me what you see. Geraldo Rivera didn’t pull this out of his ass in complete ignorance. What he is doing is perpetuating the idea that image dictates how we should be treated by society. Not everyone wearing a hoodie is a “gansta.” Not every pretty girl is a mean one. Not everyone wearing a trucker hat is a redneck.
I’m not even going to touch the gulty/not issue. In this country, the rules say a jury decides that. Of course, one has to be arrested and tried first.
In this country, rules are also served up best when broken.
My friend Anthony is a great guy. He’s funny, handsome, and could charm the pants off anyone even if they were nailed on. He’s a minister, and very passionate about his work. Anthony has a charisma that worked for him in broadcasting – always had a broad following to every station he went to. Clear, succinct and educated.
It was when people came to the live broadcasts that they were shocked; Anthony was black. “You’d never know it to listen to him!” In the same breath that he tells this story with a grin on his face, the laughter falters as he then relates a tale of being pulled over by police for doing nothing more than driving through a bad neighborhood in his conspicuously red van. The memory of indignant, helpless fear is plain to see.
Too many crimes are about color. Race. Hate. What is this world coming to?
It’s coming to a world we created.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, meaning near to
and Oakland , racism has never been a foreign concept to me. I grew up on the “white” side of town. Never thought much about it until I transferred across town in high school, where the kids were bussed in from the lower income nearby town. I promptly came home and announced that I wouldn’t be returning to a school where suddenly I was the minority. But, stuck there I was, and in the end was all the richer for it. Richmond
If only we could all embrace colors. Life would be a ding-a-derry…and the sun’ll come out tomorrow too – honest Injun.
© Kymberlie Ingalls,
March 24, 2012