Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My two cents about the Travyon Martin case

-- and this has nothing to do with the actual incident itself. Well, it has something to do with it, I suppose. It has to do with hoodies.

On Friday, Mr. Geraldo Rivera stated that Travyon shouldn’t have been wearing a hoodie (and later apologized for the comment). The statement indicated, it seems, that individuals who wear hoodies look thuggish. Sketch. Troublesome.

At first, I though the statement was silly and unwarranted. Who doesn’t own at least one hoodie? Sure, lots of crimes, especially those that are caught on security cameras, seem to portray the criminals wearing hoodies, but that shouldn’t make everyone who wears a hoodie suspect, right?

It shouldn’t – but, depending on your color, it apparently can.

I have a black coworker who said that he told all of his nephews not to wear hoodies with the hood over their head because people would assume they were up to something.

I cannot fathom that. I run, and my favorite time of the year to run outside is during the winter. And, as we all know, it gets dark fairly early in the wintertime. So the majority of the time when I run outside, I’m running in black running pants and I have either an orange, black, or brown hoodie that I wear – with the hood up.

So picture this: Here I am, a white female, running in the dark – possibly RUNNING UP TO SOMEONE WHO IS WALKING – with a hoodie up over my head.

It’s never once occurred to me that someone may assume that I’m up to something.

But then again, I’m not black. I’ve never had to face racism. All my life, I’ve been taught that people are equal and not to judge someone by the color of his or her skin. I’ve always assumed that racism is almost dead…but how can I be the judge of that when I was never the target?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying racism is part of the Trayvon case nor am I saying that it is not. I don’t believe I’ve seen all the facts, therefore I cannot judge that aspect.

All I know is that, as someone who runs…in the dark…with a hoodie on…and who could be thought as chasing someone…the idea that just because someone wears a hoodie is a gangster is wrong.

What if someone did think I was chasing someone that I was passing on the sidewalk? What if they yelled at me to stop? I probably wouldn’t hear them. I usually have headphones in my ears.

What if someone thought I was up to something? And, not saying I would be shot, but what if the cops were called on me just because I was wearing a black hoodie and black pants and running behind someone? Sure, you could argue that it’s better to be safe than sorry…but that’s not my point. My point is that I’ve never had to worry about this. Why? Because I was born with a certain tone of skin.

Two of my cousins adopted black babies in recent years, and it breaks my heart to realize that they will face racism. I’ve never had to worry about wearing a black hoodie at night…but will they?

One thing my husband has labored to teach me (because y’all know I want to change the world to my “perfect” world, ha!) is that we cannot control other people’s behaviors or actions. I cannot stop some of my white students from talking about the “white people” Sonic in or town or some of my black students giggling when they see that I graduated from an HBCU.

But I can control my family and myself. Like my parents taught me, I can teach my children that race has no bearing on a person’s character. I can teach them to love everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, because God loves us all. We are supposed to represent Him, and we are to display His love to those around us.

And maybe this is a fantasy, but when my children and my cousins’ children grow up, maybe wearing a hoodie, despite what color of skin you have, won’t make someone think that you’re up. to. something


Ashley said...

Thanks for this, Judith. You are such a blessing.

Mari said...

First, you can laugh at me because I had to google HBCU to see what that meant.
I've been protected from this sort of thing and like you it's shocking to me. I hope and pray that your cousins babies and the other babies born now, won't have to deal with this.

Sommer said...

i grew up in a very racist, very homophobic home and i am determined that my kids will NOT be raised that way. matt and i try really hard not to judge who we don't know and it's worked really well for us...i passed a black person walking outside my apartment last night. my first thought was to smile at them. so i did. and NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. he didn't smile back, but he didn't rape or kill me either. my mom would've crossed to the other side of the street. despicable.

Brooke said...

honestly? i thought HBCU was the name of your school until Mari's comment (thank you, mr. google, for the education).

i've seen a lot about this. arguing on both sides and you're 100% right - we can only change those closest to us.

having said that, on daily mile during the winter, i did see a post that cautioned men to rethink their getup. (and sadly, when i just googled "running man dressed in black", pictures of herman cain came up instead of the cartoon i'm referring to)

misti said...

Good points. This whole story makes me so sad :( I have deleted several people off of my facebook feed because their comments about this made my stomach turn!