His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman.
You’d think that when a seventeen-year-old black kid gets shot dead, we could all agree that the situation is unequivocally tragic, even if he hadn’t been both innocent and unarmed.
In case you’re not up to speed, Trayvon Martin was an innocent and unarmed seventeen-year-old black kid who was shot dead recently in Florida. George Zimmerman is the “neighborhood watch captain” who shot him. The hoodie was an item of clothing worn by Trayvon at the time. And the above quote was one of a series of tweets made by Geraldo Rivera about the incident.
He expressed similar sentiments on Fox News, explaining:
I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was… You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe, well people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant, reflexive action.
The list of situations under which firing a gun directly at somebody is justifiable as an “instant, reflexive action” is, I dare say, an exceedingly short one, and “a young black man wearing a hoodie walking into your line of sight” is not one of them.
Maybe this particular clothing style does have an association, in some parts of the world, with a certain violent gang culture. But even if that’s true, the only acceptable solution is one in which we try to change that culture, not just abandon people to their fate and tell them they should have acted differently to stay out of trouble.
Geraldo has never said, “It’s a simple fact that black people get shot more often, they should learn to adjust,” but the callous victim-blaming is no less insensitive here.
He professes to have seen Trayvon Martin as a “wonderful kid” who “didn’t deserve to die”. But he must have abandoned a certain measure of human empathy a long way behind, to see this kind of senseless killing as inevitable on the basis of some clothes and an accompanying stereotype.