Why I Wear My Black Hoodie
This evening, I’ll finish up a workshop with our Heal the Streets fellows, clean up, and throw on my black hoodie to head out to Bradley Manning Plaza in San Francisco.
Today we honor the life of Trayvon Martin, murdered at the hands of unconscionable hatred by George Zimmerman on February 26th. We honor his life by wearing hoodies and demanding justice. But that’s not why I wear my hoodie. I wear my hoodie because I almost always wear my hoodie. In fact, most of the brothers I grew up with and still kick it with wear our hoodies. We all wear dark hoodies, fitted hats, nice kicks, and sometimes even backpacks.
People step on BART trains and act as if they don’t see the empty seat next to us. They act like we don’t see them checking their peripheral vision while we walk behind them, trying to hustle by them to get to work. In the Bay Area, I’ve grown accustomed to subtle bigotry and racist gestures that my southern relatives would deem “normal” and “decent”.
The first time my brain could comprehend a racist incident I was about 9 years old in Tampa, Florida visiting my grandfather. My sister, cousin and I decided to walk to the corner store and get some candy. As the sun began to set, we were about halfway to our destination when four white men (in what we called a “hoopty”) drove by and yelled the words “go back to Africa”. We were shook. So much so that when we arrived at the store we bought not only candy, but also box cutters and flashlights for the walk home.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I felt safer.
Trayvon Martin had no box-cutters; he only had skittles. George Zimmerman didn’t drive by calling him names; instead he jumped out his car, hunted him down and murdered him like an animal.
By now, you’ve heard every recording encapsulating the horrific hatred and sickness in George Zimmerman’s voice. George Zimmerman, like all Americans, is infected with racism. The difference is that he lives in a State where Jeb Bush found an effective way to legalize killing black people. The Country has seen and heard enough. We have taken to social networks, media outlets, online actions, even created music in tribute to Trayvon, and now to the streets in order to win justice for this baby boy.
Today in the Bay Area, I stand in solidarity with everyone who agrees that losing a black child at the hands of racism in America is an act of war. I also stand in solidarity with those in Oakland who feel the same way about the fact we lost 76 Black lives in 2011, one of those being a 1-year-old infant. For the young cats dying everyday, in part as a result of internalized and institutional racism, carried out and aggravated by our own people and our police department. It is for all of you that I wear my hoodie today.