The “HOODIE” Controversy!
Being a part of the staff @ WBLK Radio is not just a job for me…it’s more than just playing good music… it’s an Honor. Having the privilege and opportunity to be on the radio and address my culture and community is nothing I take for granted. Yes we have a blast on the radio playing music and entertaining the public…but there is also a responsibility that comes with this “job”…which is more appropriately labeled by referring to it as a “role”.
The “role” we take on as announcers (air personalities) is of a service oriented nature, such that our ultimate responsibility is to serve the community…and in doing so we must always possess a sense of dignity, pride, concern, compassion, and humiliation… all at the same time. The dignity and pride we have in performing this job is not self driven or self serving; it is rather felt as an extension and representation of what our culture stands for and the strength it’s built upon. Our sense of cultural pride and representation, and the motivation for such, stretches from the influential struggles of the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, President Barack Obama, Malcolm X, etc, etc. The emotion that compliments the prior identified mindset is a sincere yearning for wanting to impact our community.
With that said, this conversation quickly changes at this point to….Hoodies! As abrupt as that may be…it’s necessary because it is the main purpose and motivation for writing this blog. The topic I will discuss has a direct correlation to the beginning of this blog, in that I care enough about my community, and have a committed responsibility to it as well, to the extent that I must at least try to clarify something that was stated the other day by Mr. Geraldo Rivera.
Is this blog about Geraldo or is it even a means of coming to his defense?… NO, NO and NO!!!!! It does and will however, in theory, support the comments he made regarding Hoodies…for the purposes of creating an awareness in our community and culture that may be often overlooked. It is my responsibility as an announcer hired by WBLK to serve, lead, influence, and inform my community.
So let’s get to it! Geraldo Rivera made several statements on a television morning show the other day, but there was one thing in particular he stated that caused an uproar. I’m paraphrasing, but Geraldo said that Trayvon Martin’s wearing of a hoodie the day he was killed,was a contributing factor in his death. He also asked parents to urge their children to forego wearing hoodies altogether. BIG MISTAKE! … but I believe he was grossly misunderstood.
“The Hood”, “Hoodlums”, “Hood Rat”, …and low and behold…the “HOODIE” are different items that encompass the word “HOOD”. A hood is a covering…in some cases for preservation, protection, etc…and in some cases for the purposes of hiding something, not wanting be be seen, or something undesirable. The words surrounding “hood”, which I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph, usually have a negative connotation associated with them….UNFORTUNATELY. Are they negative within themselves ……NOOOO! ….but the fact remains that negativity has unfortunately been associated with them . So now here comes Geraldo who cares enough about OUR young people such that he speaks out against an entity of stereotype which affects our community and young people…A “HOODIE”…and we get upset with him. ??? What is that? He never says anything negative about any people or race of people, etc…he simply targets a piece of clothing that has a stigma attached to it of a negative nature and we take offense such that he’s talking about something “WE OWN”…or something…”WE ARE”. Well I am NOT a piece of clothing, nor am I governed by one such that I need to be offended if someone doesn’t approve of it…if I choose to wear it then it’s my prerogative…even Geraldo would not challenge that right. What he would challenge is how safe it is wearing this piece of clothing in today’s society, especially for a young Black person. If you were to ask Gerald if he thinks it’s ignorant to associate something negative with a “hoodie” he would quickly agree that it is! However he would tell you that it’s a stupid reality that exists in this society which could find an innocent person experiencing an unfortunate situation just based on their choice of clothing. Sad…YES…but true? Are there people, police officers, fools, etc out there who will think a person MUST BE up to something if they have on a hoodie…YES! Geraldo’s question to ponder is…Do you want your child facing some ridiculous situation just based on his / her appearance… I mean we already have a built in appearance that causes us problems which we can’t and DON’T WANT TO CHANGE or CONTROL in that we’re Black…why add to “our troubles”? Yeah, yeah, I know …we (and anyone) should be able to wear what we want…I get that… but at the risk of using that mindset to say… “Screw Geraldo man…who is he to tell me what I should and shouldn’t wear…where’s my hoodie…imma put it on anyway just because I can”. Go ahead…put it on…and when the “hoodie” gets you associated with something you’re not, then I’ll just say “good luck”.
Short of Geraldo explaining that the people who over-react to seeing a “hoodie” on someone are ignorant and prejudiced…there are indeed those profilists out there in the world who are stupid enough such that seeing these images makes them want to do violent hate crimes. Geraldo, in a short period of time on TV, attempted to simply create some awareness about the image a “HOODIE” carries with it in today’s society…especially in the Black Community. He never said he agrees with that stereotype or that he hates hoodies…he simply stated that parents should take heed….he even went on to say that he loves his son enough that he urges his own son to refrain from wearing a hoodie because doing so puts his son (and you) at risk for several negative things to take place. Need I list them all when we can all think of circumstances and scenarios where having a hoodie on could cause a problem for the person.
AND…as a last IRONIC example supporting Mr. Geraldo’s statements…let me pose this question. While we are so up-in-arms regarding Geraldo suggesting our young people avoid wearing Hoodies, why are we not as bothered… AND WE COMPLY AND HAVE GREAT INSIGHT AND UNDERSTANDING when we hear a Club Commercial on the radio stating…..”NO HOODIES”, “NO WHITE T”S”, “NO SNEAKERS”!!!!!???? Do you ever hear the commercials and say to yourself “well why the hell not I wonder???????? No you don’t…because you know why! You don’t or say to the bouncer, “why can’t I wear a hoodie or white t to the club… I should be able to wear what I want…it’s a free country …right????? Yes…you’re right…but NO…you don’t question it in that scenerio! … but…relevant to Mr. Geraldo’s assessment….we get all upset and defensive. Is Geraldo justified at all in asking the question…Is It Safe?????? (especially for our young people)…. I think he’s completely justified in looking at it that way.
Ultimately you CAN wear what you want, do what you want to do, etc, etc,…but at least understand that if you come out of the house with a ski mask on and you need to stop into your local bank and do some business…prepare to be questioned or asked to remove the mask or leave. The ski mask was not always associated with crime with some negative stigma attached to it…but now many times it does carry with it that negative stigma. The same holds true for the “hoodie”. There was a time when the hoodie became the acceptable and preferred attire of choice if you wanted to hide your head, and face, for the purposes of selling drugs or committing a crime. The image of the hoodie has changed over the years…don’t let it affect your image as well.
More could be said here which would tie into Slavery, a Slave Mentality, and a compromised mindset…but instead I’ll just warn against adopting a controlled, purposely contrived mindset geared at failure and oppression (by a group of people who want to keep us stagnant and distracted) such that you now become a 2012 SLAVE…. enslaved and brainwashed to the extent that… when the very mindset that’s messing you up is challenged or corrected and replaced with a mindset that could lead you out of your current thoughtless state of thinking… you get upset and want to hold onto and continue to practice the very habits that have you diminished and mentally oppressed in the first place…instead of thinking “outside the box” (“they” want you in) and just consider what’s being said, that would normally have offended you.
Remember: “Right Knowledge, Corrects Wrong Behavior…Know Thyself!
Peace… Todd Anderson (“The MusicMan”)