Hoodieism is a new term I’ve coined to define a person who has prejudice or animosity against people who wear hoodies. Have you ever heard of or know anyone who is guilty of hoodieism?
Facts of the tragic killing of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin, at the hands and gun of 28 year-old neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, still need to come out. Zimmerman, who has not been charged with any crime [at the time of this writing], is presumed innocent under the law.
As this situation has escalated to a national debate about racism, gun control, and whether it’s fair to judge a person based upon his wearing a hoodie, the notion of hoodieism took root. Hoodieism is not a crime, but is a prejudiced judgment that Zimmerman put upon a tall, unarmed, black male teenager wearing a hoodie who he shot in cold blood.
Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera took a controversial stance, saying that Martin would be alive if it weren’t for his having worn a hoodie. Rivera’s stance is unabashed hoodieism. He is saying that people wearing hoodies “provoke madness,” equating it to “wearing a costume that is really a sign that says ‘shoot me.” He even urged blacks and Hispanics to avoid wearing them.
According to the 911-call transcript, the dispatcher first asks Zimmerman what race Martin is, and then asks Zimmerman what he’s wearing. Zimmerman’s answers are that “he looks black” and that he’s wearing, “a dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes.” Although Zimmerman was answering the dispatcher’s questions, this event occurred because Zimmerman was “suspicious” of Martin simply because he was “walking around, looking about” while “it’s raining,” and also claimed that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.”
George Zimmerman was armed with a gun, and with fear over a guy wearing a hoodie. The hoodie has come to represent the image of a thug. But is it fair to become suspicious of someone just for wearing a hoodie? I certainly don’t think so, as the hoodie has become mainstream in pop culture, from hip-hop, to skateboarders, to grunge bands. You could buy a cheap hoodie at Wal-Mart, or a luxurious hoodie costing hundreds of dollars at Dior Homme. The style represents Silicon Valley’s tech intelligentsia, for that matter.
It’s no wonder that people have congregated in outrage, wearing their hoodies. People with limited thinking could target any of us for wearing a hoodie. That is what has galvanized a movement, essentially fighting hoodieism.
I treat this subject with great sensitivity as a personal image consultant. People of many ethnicities, and with backgrounds from around the world, work with me. Some even wear hoodies, but they all want so much to be looked upon for their individuality and to fit in. No matter what image-related work we do, one’s gender identity, race, and ethnicity are not changeable. You can’t take any of that off, or put it all on like you can do with a hoodie, or other clothing items.
Moreover, I contend Zimmerman crossed the line when it comes to racial profiling. His perception of Martin would have been the same, whether or not the teenager wore a hoodie.
This kind of profiling is similar to being uncomfortable by someone’s race or ethnicity and crossing the street to avoid the person. Can you imagine being faced with this oppression every single day of your life in civil society? It’s time for our country to come together and stop fearing people for what they’re wearing, or for their race or ethnicity. It’s got to stop.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.