The shooting of Trayvon Martin has swept the country in the past few weeks, stirring a nationwide debate on the importance of an article of clothing, namely the hooded sweatshirt. Long a staple of leisurewear, workout wear, everyday wear, snuggle wear, cold weather wear, and just about every other kind of “wear” you can think of that involves covering your person, there has never been a reason to think twice about the meaning of a hoodie until the shooting of 17-year-old Martin (on his way home from a 7-Eleven with a bottle of tea and packet of Skittles in hand) by a neighborhood watchman who claims it was self-defense. Thousands have taken to the streets wearing hoodies to protest both the shooting and lack of arrest made on George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin. Celebs have also been showing their support by tweeting and Instagramming photos of themselves wearing hoodies.
Diddy tweeted support for the Million Hoodies March by wearing a black hoodie and carrying a picture of Trayvon Martin as a young boy. Swizz Beatz Instagram’d a double image of himself in a hoodie, saying, “Had to Hoodie up for Trayvon, what a sad situation. Blessing to his fam.” Odd Future’s Frank Ocean Tumblr’d a photo of himself in a hoodie, and Ludacris Instagram’d an “I am Trayvon Martin” message with a photo of himself wearing a printed hoodie while standing in front of a plane. The outpouring of support for Martin and his family sheds light on the fact that a young person was killed, seemingly, as a result of what he looked like.
Reporter Geraldo Rivera blamed hoodies for the shooting, saying, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” What’s so insane about this statement (which he later apologized for) is that we’ve all been wearing hoodies forever and yet no one seems to have been targeted as being “suspicious” as a result, let alone shot for it. How can anyone label someone else simply by the choice of clothing they’re wearing? There’s more to this than just hoodies, too, as teens in Iraq have been killed for dressing “Emo”.
Martin’s death has seriously impacted America. Not only has it hit the hip-hop community hard, it has inspired everyone from Capitol Hill staffers and congressmen to the Miami Heat to wear hoodies in solidarity. Singer Chaka Khan made a public service announcement recently containing the message “Super Life: Fear Kills, Love Heals” amid a backdrop of people coming together to sing forth a message of change. In just 48 hours, the 10-time Grammy Award winner brought together a group of friends from the entertainment community to help spread a message of justice that included people donning hoodies and saying, “I am Trayvon Martin” before announcing their own name. It’s a strong, emotional message that Khan says came from wanting “to do something about it.” The PSA was recorded in the very same studio as the historic song “We Are the World”.
Questlove wearing a hoodie while DJing the Next Level party in Philadelphia.
Photo: Getty Images
The Roots drummer and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader Questlove loves hoodies so much that he is a co-founder of a new Brooklyn store called The Hoodie Shop, which sells—you guessed it—only hoodies. While the timing is a bit of a coincidence, no one can ignore the fact that hoodies are everywhere right now (and have been everywhere for eons, let’s not forget this). Questlove told New York magazine, “The difference between this situation with Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and any other unarmed guy who got killed is that this time, there’s a fashion accessory associated with it.” Questlove called the hoodie situation a “distraction…to keep eyes off the issue of race relations in America,” and went on to say, “Fashion-wise, for the skinny-jean generation, we’re undergoing the first significant comeback of the hoodie since those Gap hoodies back in the early nineties. I never even thought about it as something a scary dude wears. When I think of someone trying to rob you, I think of a ski mask.”
Just to reiterate his message, he tweeted the following:
— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) March 29, 2012