If I Can’t Wear A Hoodie
After listening to the comments of Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly discussing the aspects of Rivera asking Blacks and Latinos not to wear hoodies in this land of the free and home of the brave, it’s easy for me to say that this is as gutless as a bigot wearing a bed sheet with a hood, not a hoodie, on his head. But, why stop there Geraldo? Why don’t we ask women or men to stop wearing make-up, high heels, low-cut dresses, thongs, or perfume? Why don’t we ask nerds not to display their intelligence? Why don’t we ask Muslims not to come out publicly in what keeps Fox’s Juan Williams up at night–’people who are in Muslim garb?’ And finally, why don’t we ask gay people not to come out at all, much less as themselves?
If the great Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, can wear his hoodie and not become a stereotyped statistic, then we all should be granted that same unalienable right! You shouldn’t have to be a White man who won the Super Bowl just so you can wear a hoodie without being stereotypically trapped in its misconceptions!
What Rivera is really saying is that minorities and other non-glamorous hoodie wearers should just gracefully bow down to the prejudices of ignorance and maybe, just maybe—the one-track-minded, short-fused bigots, haters and nut-jobs might decide to leave them alone. And to that, I say what a big piece of whopping bullsh** that is!
If it was former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow who had been gunned down in cold blood by an over-pursuing idiot with a happy trigger-finger, who chased him so he could have his Mark Chapman moment, how many of these conservatives like Rivera and O’Reilly would start telling Christians to stop Tebowing publicly? Would anyone ask if Tebow had a criminal record? Would anyone test Tebow for drugs? Would anyone blame it on Tebow’s clothing?
Tebow getting down on one knee should not be his signature on his death certificate any more than Trayvon Martin pulling his hoodie over his head should be his signature on his death certificate! What ever happened to personal responsibility, you silly Republicans, because a loaded gun demands far more personal responsibility than a prayer, a hoodie or being Black in a gated-community?
So Rivera and O’Reilly asking Blacks and Latinos not to wear hoodies for their own good is supposed to be their way of just trying to help save lives by trying to keep the minority youth from drawing an even bigger bull’s-eye on their backs. But that ideology is fundamentally flawed, brazenly bigoted, and crisply cowardly to say the least. What would have happened if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had succumbed to the pressure of the many passive voices that were constantly in his ear telling him not to go out and draw an even bigger bull’s-eye on his back, as well as on the backs of all African-American’s by marching against injustice, so people like Trayvon Martin and myself can have the right to put on a hoodie or whatever we want and not be lynched for it?
Didn’t Rivera and O’Reilly, learn anything from Dr. King? Go back and watch the old footage of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, and you’ll see them marching through the streets holding up signs that read “I Am a Man,” and those striking sanitation workers were right on, because that is still what’s at stake here. Whether it’s a sign that says “I Am a Man” or the hoodie that covered Trayvon Martin’s head, the struggle is the same, and that struggle is the ongoing fight to prove that Martin’s life, my life, the lives of all African-Americans, and the lives of all people deserve the same chances to be allowed to blossom like the flowers of the earth that they are, even though there are fools who are either too blind or too ignorant to understand or accept it, and their inabilities to do so are not the fault of my hoodie or the color of my skin! So in a very real sense, those striking sanitation workers are still holding up their signs, and Dr. King is still marching, because even though we’ve come a long way out of the woods, the old, archaic forests of the past continue to expand with us every step of the way.
If my hoodie makes me less of a man, less of a person and more of a target for racism and maltreatment than I would be without wearing one, it’s just another disgusting, Jim Crow, black eye on the face of American liberty and American justice. It’s not wearing a hoodie that makes someone less of a person. It’s when overzealous would-be tyrants like George Zimmerman use stereotypical, foundationless insecurities to further their destructive agenda that the “less of a person” charges should be applied, and those charges sit squarely at the feet of every George Zimmerman out there.
Rivera has some nerve to question the clothing choices of Trayvon Martin and other Blacks and Latinos, instead of questioning the unauthorized, completely irrational, dehumanizing, murderous choice of one George Zimmerman. Since when did appeasing ignorance or oppression become such a viable solution for peace or progress? Because the peace that is achieved through it is an enslaved peace, and the progress that is made through it is nothing more than a disingenuous circle where you might cover a lot of ground, but never enough to be free! And if we allow these good-old-days/good-old-boys sympathizers to have their way, the circle will never be truly or permanently broken, which is exactly what happens when the lives of people like Trayvon Martin are assigned a value that is less than or equivalent to a $15 dollar piece of fabric that covers their head in the rain.
Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly are free to have their opinions. But remember, it was Rivera who vehemently defended Casey Anthony—a person who was more suspicious and arguably up to more than her fair share of no good based on her shady actions than Trayvon Martin was accused of simply based on the color of his skin, the ominousness of his frightening hoodie, and his red flagged location in a community that Zimmerman obviously believed was unacceptable and above his pay grade. That speaks volumes about the true colors of Rivera and Zimmerman, and none of us should be surprised by it.
Why is that? Why do certain groups seem to fit inside of the window frame of negativity so much better than others–sometimes better than the people who truly deserve such scrutiny? The ugly reality of it all is that American slavery is the oldest, yet freshest wound that still bleeds like it did on day one, and it doesn’t take much to rip off that scab for it to happen. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie is no more responsible for his death than if Mel Gibson’s baby’s momma goes out and gets raped by a ‘pack of n-ggers’ for wearing a thong, just like Gibson warned about and predicted on those infamous phone recordings. Because the same belief system that Gibson was so worried about is the same belief system that Rivera tapped into by asking Blacks and Latinos not to wear hoodies. Because in the end as African-Americans, America has accepted the presence of our humanity, but it has not embraced the humanity of our presence!
If I’m not free to wear a hoodie without getting shot dead or bigotedly criminalized in the greatest nation on earth, it just goes to show how talking great through rhetoric and being great by example are two totally different things. And if America continues to slink away from its responsibility to make its land of the free ideology live up to the struggle for equality that comes along with it, I’d say that it’s time to get out of the ‘greatest nation on earth’ business indefinitely!