|Not Actually Asking For A Smack|
First of all, I honestly had no idea we were paying attention to what Geraldo Rivera was saying these days. Most of which, I assume, would be ridiculous. If not outright insane. And I was right.
But okay, Geraldo. Well-played. The fact of your existence has now been dredged from the depths of my memory, and yes, I'm am duly impressed by your stunning lack of tact and logic. This past Friday, you evidently opened your great gaping gob to comment on Trayvon Martin's death, blaming Martin's clothing choice as the cause of his own death, saying “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin‘s death as much as George Zimmerman was."
Well, you know what they say. "Guns don't kill people. People wearing hoodies force people with guns to kill them."
No, really, people don't say that.
You know why they don't say that, Geraldo? I'll tell you why. C'mere real close and I'll whisper in your ear.
People don't say "wearing a hoodie makes you as much responsible for your death as the shooter" BECAUSE IT'S A DAMN STUPID THING TO SAY.
Yeah, yeah...I know. I get it. I'm a parent. I have a teenage daughter and a preteen daughter, and I do get the horrible need to be thoughtful over clothing choices.
One summer, my adorable little girl was running around wearing a mini-skort and her favorite boots, and she was nothing more than a cute tyke in a funny, funky outfit. By fall, the same daughter was a blossoming pre-teen, and when she walked out to the school bus stop in her mini-skort and knee-high black boots, I paused. Same outfit. Same kid. But for a split second, the looking glass shifted, reflecting back all of popular culture's unkind attitudes and sexual assumptions when it comes to girls in short skirts.
And I called my daughter back inside to change.
This was not an easy or sure decision on my part. I explained to my daughter that while I think she should have the right to wear whatever she damn well pleases without fear of being judged or harassed, unfortunately-- and for this I am truly sorry, my darling girl --the world just doesn't work that way right now. And we talked about cultural norms and expectations of sartorial etiquette according to situation. And we discussed how other people take cues about who we are by what we wear -- sometimes for better, but often for worse. And we opened the ongoing, difficult discussion about how a woman sometimes may be accused of provoking reactions - a pinch on the butt at work, a series of stalking phone calls, an assault on a date - all because she chose to wear a short skirt or a blouse with a certain cut.
So yes, Geraldo. I do get it. For as much as I think the world is an unfair place, I don't want to put my kids on the front line of any battle they aren't fully prepared to fight. No matter how I explain it to my children, no matter the warnings, allowing my teen and tween daughters to wear what the rest of the world sees as provocative clothing could put my girls into situations they aren't ready to handle yet, from innocent flirtation to more dastardly deeds.
Not that adults are equipped to handle dastardly deeds against them, either.
And I'm going to write this part slowly and use small words and paint a bright line so no one get lost here, okay Geraldo?
People enjoy the creative expression that clothing affords.
And, yes, people may be choosing to "say something" about themselves via what they wear.
If a girl wears a short skirt, she is not as much to blame as the person who assaults her for wearing a short skirt. She is not to blame at all. A short skirt is not a good excuse for hurting anyone.
If a black boy wears a hooded shirt, he is not to blame for being killed. A hood on a sweat shirt is not a good enough reason for an onlooker to feel so threatened that mortal offensive action is needed.
Let's try some more, shall we?
A turban is not a good enough reason to report your neighbor to Homeland Security.
A head scarf doesn't mean a woman should be condescended to as not being able to think for herself.
A flannel shirt and work boots are not a good reason to treat someone as if they are an uneducated hick.
Can we think of more examples, Geraldo?
I bet we can think of more!
This game is called No Matter The Stereotype Or Message One Might Choose To Send Via Being Associated With A Group Who Wears Similar Fabrics, Clothing Choices Alone Are Not A Good Reason To Take Offensive Actions Against Another Human.
Even a t-shirt with You're A Righteous Ass silk-screened across the chest pushes the defined limits --I would think -- of "fighting words." But I'll get an attorney on that one right away.
Now you try! See if you got the gist of this, Geraldo.
I bet lots of people understand pretty clearly what you do need a smack upside the head to understand.
ETA: I do not know all the details of the Trayvon Martin-Zimmerman incident. However, I pretty much understand what Geraldo was implying regarding "how people look" and their blame in becoming a victim. Ass.
ETA: There is also a slim chance that Geraldo is using poetic license in blaming the hoodie itself and not Martin's choice to wear a hoodie, but I'm going on record as officially doubting it.