Hoodies And Short Skirts: The Victim Blame Game - Coco & Creme

We know the story.

On February 26th, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a self- appointed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, FL. An unarmed Martin was walking home from the store when Zimmerman began pursuit on the inkling of him looking “suspicious,” and the subsequent ordeal ended in Martin’s murder. And five days ago, talk show host Geraldo Rivera spoke to Fox News and blamed Martin’s hoodie for his death: “It is common sense for minorities to avoid wearing hoodies…the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as Zimmerman was.”

After an onslaught of public outrage (Rivera’s son Gabriel even said he was ashamed of his father regarding the issue), Rivera went on to say he wasn’t “blaming the victim” but only “reminding minority parents of the risk that comes with being a kid of color in America.” He called it “common sense”.

Anyone else give his remarks the biggest side-eye they could muster up?

While Rivera continues to clarify his racially-charged comments, I’d love to know when this became a finger-pointing match? Since when did someone’s attire become justification for un-wanted attacks, either verbally or physically? So if we went by Mr. Rivera’s logic, let’s blame every female rape victim that wore a short skirt or midriff-baring top for their attack, which sadly happens more often than you think. What Rivera (and those narrow-minded people that think just like him) must understand is when you blame Trayvon’s hoodie for his death, you release the animal that committed the violence from the responsibility for what he has done. Instead, you place blame on an intimate item of clothing, and the assumptions ignorant and small-minded people make based on that clothing. More common than not, victim-blaming is most precedent in cases of sexual harassment, battery and you guessed it – racist hate crimes.

As if he couldn’t shove his foot down his throat even further, Rivera advised young minorities to “not be threatening”. What he really meant was if you act or dress in a manner where people will feel threatened, don’t be surprised if something bad happens to you. What he fails to realize is that it’s practically impossible to conform to some neutral, non-threatening way of living because “feeling threatened” is subjective. Our race alone is threatening to some people, whether we’re wearing three-piece suits or A-line dresses and pearls. Sticking to a strict dress code that excludes hoodies or miniskirts won’t keep our sons and daughters safe if our society, and our justice system, won’t do their part to protect them.

How did Geraldo Rivera’s remarks make you feel? Do you agree? Is Trayvon’s hoodie in any way responsible for his death?

-Krystal Franklin


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