The Bit of Truth in Geraldo's Controversial Hoodie Statements

So let me be clear, I'm not a Geraldo fan. When he said, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was," he proved himself a dingy once again. While I can't say with 100% certainty that George Zimmerman is "guilty", I've seen enough evidence that goes well beyond a reasonable doubt to say that he's responsible and definitely should have been arrested by now. At best, Zimmerman is a racist. His strange vigilante attitude also screams either mentally ill or delusional to me.

But as for the hoodie debate itself… I'll say something most people don't want to acknowledge:
I wear hoodies to look more intimidating. It's a conscious fashion choice I make when I'm walking alone in a place my friends worry is too dangerous or homicide-y.

I'm a non-threatening, short, white guy. Having a hoodie drape over my head disguises my identity and (hopefully) makes me look a bit more menacing. You're a lot less likely to mess with a guy whose face you can barely see.

For example, I was walking alone down a street at about midnight with a baggy hoodie on when I began to approach an old man also on a late night stroll. He looked over the shoulder at me and I can tell I frightened him. He tried to pick up the pace to get away from me, but he was old, so he was still going at a pace slower than I would naturally overtake him. At first I went slow so I wouldn't frighten him more, but I finally decided I just needed to go ahead and pass him to get the encounter over with rather than seem like I was stalking him for a prolonged period.

As I walked by him, he actually jumped in fear, so I apologized and pulled off my hood. He seemed so relieved to see my face… my smiling white face. Then he apologized for being so scared of me, though I'm pretty sure he would have had his fears validated rather than apologizing had he seen another race under the hood.

And there's the difference between me and Trayvon: I get to wear a hoodie and feel more secure, while for Trayvon, that hoodie signals open season, apparently. That, my friends, is what we call white privilege. What's more, I get to take off my hood and no longer look intimidating. But Trayvon? In or out of that hoodie, Zimmerman considered him a threat.

No comments: