Trayvon Martin Would Be Alive but for His Hoodie

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News, March 23, 2012

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His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman did.

Remember when my friend and colleague the estimable Juan Williams got fired from NPR for saying that Muslims formally garbed freaked him out at airports? Juan is among America’s sharpest commentators. He wasn’t justifying his reaction, he was copping to it. Maybe shock therapy or a semester of sensitivity training could change it, otherwise it is what it is.

No one black, brown or white can honestly tell me that seeing a kid of color with a hood pulled over his head doesn’t generate a certain reaction, sometimes scorn, often menace.

When you see that kid coming your way, unless you specifically recognize him you are thinking ghetto or ghetto wannabe high-style or low-brow wise-ass. Pedestrians cross the street to avoid black or brown hoodie wearers coming their way.

Because this is a teachable moment let me speak plainly.

Whatever Reverends Sharpton and Jackson say in Florida Friday, after listening to the 911 tapes and hearing the witness’ testimonials, I believe Trayvon Martin would be alive today but for his hoodie.

I want the feds to thoroughly investigate and prosecute vigorously if the evidence warrants. But understanding the wrath currently focused on George Zimmerman and the police chief and the town council and the gun sellers and everyone else, I am begging parents of kids in Trayvon’s vulnerable demographic to heed my politically incorrect approach to this story.

If you dress like a hoodlum eventually some schmuck is going to take you at your word.

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{snip} Trayvon was unarmed save his box of skittles. But his hoodie gave his assailant cause to think him the enemy.

Maybe his specific encounter with an over-zealous, gun-toting, blood-lusting neighborhood-watch captain was less predictable than usual, but not by much.

I am begging parents to unbait the trap. Don’t let your child provoke madness. Agonize all you want about the unfairness of stereotypes. Argue how it amounts to a million, million little cuts of racial profiling. Work to change the world. Rail against the inequities of life; but don’t let your child go out into the hard cruel world wearing a costume that is really a sign that says ‘shoot me.’

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