In the aftermath of the tragic shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin , the outraged public has latched on to a few symbolic items. When he was shot, young Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt on his way home from a store where he bought iced tea and a bag of Skittles. It was the hoodie that gunman George Zimmerman told police made the 17-year-old appear suspicious and in support of Martin, demonstrators have donned hoodies as a show of solidarity.
Others have even gone as far to suggest that the hood that Martin was wearing in some ways contributed to his death. During a televised Fox News broadcast, veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera argued that parents should not allow their black and Latino children to wear hoodies. “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” he reasoned.
“The hoodie is something that we see all over America and all over the world,” Bun B said in response on Wednesday’s episode of “RapFix Live.” “People are starting to identify this culture of people by their clothing and starting to attribute certain things by the way they dress and that’s simply not fair.”
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush was removed from the House floor after he protested Martin’s murder by wearing a hood over his head. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” he said.
Rather than focus on the article of clothing that Trayvon was wearing when he was gunned down, Mississippi rapper and producer David Banner looked at what he feels is the deeper issue. “America is showing young black men: If you don’t make us comfortable around you, we will kill you,” he told MTV News on March 29. “As much as people don’t want to admit it, that’s what this is about.”
Banner urged Martin supporters to not focus on the clothes Martin was wearing, but rather the issue at large. Hoodie or not, he said black men are often the target, citing the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant and the 1991 LAPD beating of Rodney King as examples.
Instead, Banner urges demonstrators to focus their energy to change legislation that ensures that young black men like Martin are protected from corrupt police and overzealous authority figures. “If we don’t find what that is after this is no longer a trending topic, then we just lost another child again,” he said.