Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to ... Wear Hoodies?

boy in hoodie
Not making a statement, just cold.
It was windy as my son walked from school to our car at pick-up, so he put up the hood on his grey and yellow Nashville Predators sweatshirt to cover his face. I couldn't help think: My 8-year-old has no idea who Trayvon Martin is, no idea that in that simple act of trying to stay warm that he has done a thousand times before he was taking a stand against racial stereotyping and profiling and this country's race issues in general. Wow! I wouldn't begin to know how to explain all that to him. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, am I the only person who thinks this whole "Wear a Hoodie" movement is getting a little out of control?

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It all started when Geraldo Rivera made a very absurd statement about hoodies being signs of devious behavior and encouraged parents to stop letting their kids wear them. If I did that, I would have to throw out half of my son's clothes, because he loves them. And frankly, so do I.

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The world took that ludicrous statement and ran with it, making hoodies the symbol of racial discrimination, profiling, and injustice. Everyone and their grandmothers started taking pictures of themselves in hoodies to show their support for the Martin family and to fight the perception that hoodies are the reason we don't trust certain factions of the population and to remember the victims who died because of that, namely Trayvon.

Congregations across the country wore their hoodies to church yesterday. Rally after rally features protesters in hoodies. Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is one of numerous public figures and celebrities appearing in one.

There are "hoodie" movements popping up everywhere, such as the Red Hoodie Movement on Tumblr. The Miami Heat snapped a photo that's now going viral of members of the team wearing hoodies. Trayvon Martins' father Tracy has thanked the public for this touching outpouring of support.

I am not going to stop my kids from wearing hoods, or going to encourage my kids to wear more hoodies -- or even stop buying or wearing hoodies myself, because of Trayvon or not because of Trayvon. I agree we need to spread the word and fight against this, but that means starting underneath our clothes, going deeper into our minds and hearts. It's about education, empathy, and understanding, something not easily taught through social media or photo ops.

If it were my son who was killed, I'm not sure how I would feel about everyone latching on to a piece of polyester and cotton as a symbol of my son, who he was, or how he died. It feels like a gimmick, like the next planking or Tebowing or fill-in-the-blank Internet meme. I think of my son in his hoodie and wonder how many people posting pictures of themselves in hooded sweatshirts really understand what happened to Trayvon and the deeper issues behind it, or are just doing it because it's the "thing of the moment." 

Are you wearing a hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin and other victims of race related crimes?


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