In the world of Geraldo Rivera, hoodies are the problem

Justin Timberlake wearing a hoodie

The killing of Trayvon Martin is sending shockwaves through the United States and around the world, as it should. The entire situation of his death is shameful: from the actual shooting by George Zimmerman to the police inaction in Sanford.

Recently, Geraldo Rivera, a FOX News host most known for being ejected from Iraq after spilling the beans on a planned military operation there in 2003, made comments that put the blame on Martin for wearing a hoodie in the first place.

“Trayvon killed by a jerk w a gun but black & Latino parents have to drill into kids heads: a hoodie is like a sign: shoot or stop & frisk me,” tweeted Rivera. “Its not blaming the victim Its common sense-look like a gangsta&some armed schmuck will take you at your word.”

A few things about Rivera’s comments disturb me. First, of course, is that his comments inherently blame the victim. According to Rivera’s logic, Martin brought this upon himself by wearing a hoodie.  He says that he’s not blaming the victim, but the clothing,  arguing that if you “look like a gangsta” you are asking for it. But since when did this become justification for a killing?

Hoodies are a standard item of clothing. In 2012, wearing a hoodie should not be the reason you get killed. And it should never be an excuse for why someone else did. A person, Black, Latino, or otherwise, wearing a hoodie should not come off as threatening for that reason.

Instead of critiquing those who do find this image threatening, Rivera upholds the status quo. When he should be noting that this position is absurd, irrational and paranoid, Rivera chides minorities instead for looking like a threat. Instead of telling people to be more careful with their clothing choice, perhaps he should be reminding everyone that a hoodie is just a hoodie.

Telling parents that clothing choice is the issue at hand is wrong. Instead, we should be working to change the supposedly prominent mentality that wearing a hoodie means “shoot or stop & frisk me.”

You are not threatening if you wear a hoodie. Society cannot be allowed to follow Rivera’s logic. Wearing a hoodie (or even looking threatening, for that matter) does not give someone license to kill you.

Trayvon Martin should be alive today. And we shouldn’t allow his death to pass by saying that hoodies are the problem.

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About Jonathan Rice

Fulbright Fellow, Pitzer College alum, and communicator passionate about telling stories that make an impact.

Posted on 03/24/2012, in Commentary, General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Chelsea Heaps

    Riveria, once again, shows how absurd FOX news has become. The fact the network allowed such a heinous comment to be aired is baffling, but makes sense as any publicity is good publicity. In any case, it is shocking to see how conservative organizations are supporting the murderer of Travyon Martin. Glenn Beck’s blog recently aired a post explaining how Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and acting defensively. It went on to say that Martin had once been suspended for school and listed all the reasons he could have been suspended. Absolutely unbelievable.

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