Geraldo and the Hoodie – Is what he is saying really all that crazy?
“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies, I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”
“When you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark-skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles,..It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-Eleven, the kid’s wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s a kid wearing a hoodie. 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,”
On the surface yes it is. But if you really think about what he is saying it isn’t all that crazy. We judge people on how the dress all the time. Take this lady for instance:
She is quoted as saying she wants to be treated with a little bit of respect after her local nightclub banned her because of her outfits. The nightclub owners/employees judged her on this outfit. I sure as heck did. You dress like that you are going to draw a certain amount of attention and people will assume that you are looking for sex. Now, if that is true or not isn’t the point. The point is she is dressing in a way that will suggest to other people that she is out on the town looking for someone to spend the night with.
Would you go to a job interview at one of the big banks in shorts and flip-flops? Not if you really wanted the job you wouldn’t. I had a job that had a very strict dress code. One that I personally felt was right out of the 1950’s. If you really were to follow the letter of the code all women had to wear hose/socks of some kind. Who wants to wear pantyhose in the middle of the DC summer heat? Not me. So what I did was always wear long skirts so you couldn’t tell that I didn’t have hose on. They didn’t say anything about the long skirts, but you were told to dress more appropriately (in a not so subtle way) if you wore a short skirt with no hose on. The men had to wear ties except one Friday a month; casual day. But even on casual day they couldn’t really wear any shirt they wanted to. You couldn’t have anything that couldn’t be tucked in. Those were the rules. If you showed up for a job interview in a way that didn’t comport with that dress style I can guarantee you that your chances of getting the job dropped considerably. Fair? Maybe not, but true.
Crime stats are what they are. You can dislike them but that doesn’t make them less true. If you live in a major urban area, you will hear about gang violence. It isn’t even just relegated to urban areas anymore. Where I live there is a town not all that far away that has gang issues. There is a task force in place that every once in a while makes the papers that has some major arrest or breakthrough. It is far enough away from my home, that I honestly don’t pay all that much attention to it. But, if I lived closer, I would pay attention. There is a mall in that city that I sometimes go to. When I do, I park as close to the mall as I can. I don’t ever stop to grab something to eat there. I go into the store I need to go to, buy my stuff, and leave. It is a safety issue to me. I have never seen any crime take place there, but I have heard that the crime rate around the mall is higher. It may not be, but my perception is that I could end up being a crime victim there, so I only go when I have to go. They have since opened another location of the store I went to there, and I have not been back to that mall since. It makes sense to me.
If you watch movies or tv shows that sometimes glorify gang life, you will see a certain type of dress. Not all that different from having a dress code at work. You see images of gangsta rappers and the way the dress is very similar. You listen to the lyrics of the music and you will hear a glorification of violence, misogyny, and drug use.
Now, I normally dismiss anything that Geraldo says out of hand, as I think he is generally an exploitive ass. As I write this I have a hoodie on because I was cold earlier. Do I look at a person in a hoodie as criminal first? No. But that doesn’t mean if I were walking alone at night and someone with a hoodie covering up his face wouldn’t make me a pause for a split second I would be lying, it would. It wouldn’t matter to me what color they are, it was the fact that I can’t see their face that would make me nervous.
We judge people on how they dress all time. We do it daily. Fair or not, it is the truth. Does that mean that you should be treated like a criminal or a tramp? No. But don’t be surprised when there will be people who will treat this way. There is an old adage: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Your appearance does matter. You will be judged on it.
‘There is nothing more painful to me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”
Jesse Jackson to the New York Times 12/12/93
It isn’t about being racist. It is having an understanding of crime statistics. Which makes Mr. Jackson’s involvement in stirring the pot that much more hypocritical. But I don’t expect anything different from a man who has made a living out of playing victim.