Trayvon Martin’s Hoodie
Much is made of not judging people by appearances. Color of skin, beauty, physique, clothing. Yet, we have such things as a multi-billion dollar fashion industry selling apparel with the express goal of creating a ‘look.’ Creating a message.
If you want to project seriousness and professionalism, you probably dress in a suit and tie. If, as a politician, you want to project yourself as plain-folks guy, you probably dress in an open collar shirt and casual pants. If your marching in one of those ‘slut-day’ feminist parades, you probably wear a short, tight skirt. And, so on. We’re lectured incessantly on not judging by appearances, yet we ignore that lecturing because we purposely dress ourselves to create an appearance we hope other people will perceive as such. Look at your wardrobe.
And, yet everyone is shocked when Mr. Martin gets killed for sending such a message. Judging from his tweets, various photos associated with his social media messaging (the one in particular of him giving the third finger salute) it seems that Mr. Martin seemed to want to send forth the image of a hard-ass ‘gangsta.’
I imagine that Mr. Martin, on the night of his death, was probably not planning anything in particular. But, what Mr. Zimmerman saw was a young black man with the dress, appearance and demeanor of a ‘gangsta.’ As, a neighborhood watch captain, Mr. Zimmerman approached Mr. Martin and inquired of his business. It obviously degenerated from there.
But, there remains the fact that if you choose to portray yourself in the threatening demeanor of a ‘gangsta,’ people may actually take you at your word and act accordingly. If you choose to look like a threat, people may assume a posture designed to defend against that threat–perceived or otherwise.
Yes, yes. We all want to do our own thing and freely express ourselves. But, freedom also means you have to accept the consequences of the exercise of that freedom. Everyone else is just as free to interpret the appearance and do so in a manner that you may not like or intended. Others may roll their eyes. Others may even snicker at your appearance. If you dress in a manner that conveys the popular public’s image of a slut, you may be regarded as such if you dress as such. If Mr. Martin wore a Marine Corps t-shirt and carried himself in the deportment of a Marine, I suspect that Mr. Zimmerman would had an entirely different take on the situation. And, if you dress like a threat and walk around as such in a high-crime neighborhood, things could degenerate; and degenerate dangerously. Mr. Zimmerman doesn’t live in a vacuum of the university faculty lounge, he lived in that same said high-crime neighborhood.
Sure, judging a book by its cover sucks and is unfair. But, then maybe you should look to your own wardrobe and just chuck it out because maybe expressing yourself via your dress is just plain superficial. Maybe we should all be allowed to just dress in those idiot Mao suits and have done with it.