Friday, March 23, 2012

Geraldo and the Hoodie

So most of the Internet knows that Geraldo Rivera tweeted this garbage about Trayvon Martin:

Rivera has since tried to walk it back, basically saying his point was about the awful truth it is to be a minority and dealing with people in (supposed) authority. The problem here is that the "jerk with a gun" is solely responsible for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. If Trayvon's hoodie had anything to do with what happened, it was Zimmerman's fear and prejudice about hoodies, not Trayvon's fashion sense. Shifting the responsibility to Trayvon or his inanimate attire is absolutely unacceptable. The entirety of responsibility for changing any act or behavior rests on Zimmerman and anyone else who fears brothers in hoodies.

Touré published a list of advice to give black youths about how to grow up in the face of racism. It's generally decent advice, but it's just that: advice. A black kid could follow every rule he listed and still die at the hands of someone like Zimmerman.  There is no "safe" way to be black in America and any post hoc analysis of the victim's non-aggravating and perfectly innocent behavior is so off-base it's insulting.

There is no comprehensive list of things to do to avoid being harassed while black. Individual black people from any walk of life who drive any type of car and wear any type of clothes are suspicious to somebody in authority:

Nice car? Drug dealer. 
Hoopty? Ex- or future convict looking for trouble. 
Walking/driving too fast? Getting away from someplace he shouldn't have been. 
Walking/driving too slow? Casing robbery/intoxicated.  
Minding own business/driving the exact speed limit? Looks scared. Probably carrying drugs.
ad infinitum

You might as well tell a black person to become invisible if you're trying to tell them to avoid suspicion for all the good it will do them.

One of the main problems here is that it is still acceptable in our society to treat people like criminals with no reasonable evidence to suggest guilt of anything. The Drug War exacerbates this, given the violence associated with the illicit trade and the relative ease with which users and dealers may conceal drugs and weapons on their person. Further, that enforcement is concentrated in poor, minority neighborhoods--leading, inter alia, to increased violence because of the increased transaction costs of dealing--disproportionate arrests of poor minorities appear to be justified because of this self-sustaining cycle. This cycle also perpetuates and reinforces stereotypes of violent young black men because of the type of people the prohibitionist system produces on the margins. It's absolutely maddening.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with a goddam hoodie.

bellum medicamenti delenda est

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