On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera wrote a plea to all parents about the incomprehensible death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida youth senselessly gunned down by vigilantism gone horribly wrong. But Geraldo thinks that he might not have become a victim if he hadn’t been wearing a hoodie. As he writes,
“If you dress like a hoodlum eventually some schmuck is going to take you at your word…don’t let your child go out into the hard cruel world wearing a costume that is really a sign that says ‘shoot me.”
This is such a flagrant warning to people everywhere. If you think that any “costume” is a sign for violence, then you really need to rethink your ideas of good and bad. The costume has nothing to do with the activity; it’s the individual. For a country that is supposed to be a melting pot of democracy, the United States is fast becoming a beacon for intolerance of just about anything outside of “mainstream” acceptance. If you don’t understand something, then it has to be wrong, or worse, in large swaths of the country. The mindlessness is becoming more than a bit terrifying.
- You wear the wrong clothes, so you must be a monster.
- You’re out late at night, then you have to be a criminal.
- You speak against a religion, then you must be evil.
- You don’t look like everyone else, then you must be bad.
- You speak or act against the norm, then you need to be punished.
There are social norms to follow, and so help me, you will follow them. We’ve all lived those words, “You live under my roof, then you live by my rules.” It’s a statement that has a time honored tradition – all the way to the beginnings of humanity, I would think. And that one single phrase carries all of the hostility that it engenders. Can we break the cycle?
And just where have these time honored traditions led us? Here’s what’s been happening in the US lately (scarier than a hoodie):
- Ex-FBI informant says that the spying games they play are fixed.
- Facebook has to warn employers about passwords.
- The US isn’t really so free.
- Even data is no longer free.
It starts out with a few well-meant preconceptions, but it soon opens to swallow the entire world by becoming prejudices and bias. And when the good intentions are gone, well, all that we’re left with is suspicion that can lead to reprehensible actions within status quo when it’s not kept in check.
Looks can really be deceiving. Stereotypes continue to destroy today as they did in the past. And they’re now controlling more of our daily activities and thoughts with little regard to morals, ethics, and humanity. We really need more people speaking out about the social injustices caused by prejudice and bias from the glut of -isms that we still practice. Honestly, we’re all now supposed to be scared of hoodies???