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Language of Racism: Hoodies the Reason for Trayvon Martin’s Death

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 23, 2012

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

That’s right, ladies and gentleman, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera thinks that what Trayvon Martin was wearing is as much of a factor in his death as the person who pulled the trigger (Zimmerman), proving that while language changes, racism remains the same.


I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.

In other words, it’s understandable to Rivera that Zimmerman would think that the Skittles-carrying youngster was a danger because anyone wearing a hoodie is a danger. Today’s hoodie is most commonly associated with the urban/African-American culture–one that apparently frightens people like Geraldo. In fact, Rivera was quick to point out that he didn’t think that a Caucasian person wearing a hoodie would be perceived in the same light–he didn’t necessarily advise that the group stop wearing hoodies.

Until we start to hold people responsible for their actions rather than putting blame on stereotypes and racism, nothing but the words used to express racism will change.

Maybe dangerous people tend to eat more Skittles. Maybe we shouldn’t buy that kind of candy in the future if we don’t want to be shot, or at least we should have the understanding that we’re asking for it if we do.

For more, see this DailyKos article.

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