The Hoodie in Society, a perspective by a Congressional elected official

A national debate over the killing of a black teenager in Florida spilled into the House of Representatives when a Democratic lawmaker put on a “hoodie” – clothing that has become emblematic of those protesting police handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

Representative Bobby Rush, a prominent civil rights activist during the 1960s, was escorted out for violating a rule that prohibits wearing hats on the House floor. The lawmaker shed his suit coat during a floor speech to reveal a gray hooded sweatshirt, known as a hoodie.

Rush then placed the hood on his head, a violation of House rules. Rush wanted to make a point: that hoodies are unfairly seen by some as the clothing of troubled youths. “Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker. Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” said Rush.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead on Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who claims he was acting in self-defense in shooting the unarmed youth in Sanford, a city near Orlando. At the time of the killing, Martin was wearing a hoodie.

Yet, what Mr. Rush leaves out is the structure, and by far, the hoodies main purpose. To deny that many thousands of young people do, in fact, wear hoodies is pomp and grandeur for Rush. I guess with his claims of racial profiling, he has already established a well-perceived stereotype for whoever wants to wear a hoodie and why they would want too.

However, what remains of this unconscionable behavior by this elected official is how does he tie – or connect the dots – between a piece of clothing worn by millions albeit, wealthy folks, middle-income family members, jump now to troubled youths and on again to racial profiling?

This is just another one of those stereotypes that is propagated by the press; moreover, knowing of the House rules we believe the act of wearing the hoodie by Rush was a sickening attempt to draw more left-leaning media his way. Mr. Rush wanted to make a point: that hoodies are unfairly seen by some as the clothing of troubled youths. The end. So how and where does racial profiling get brought into that mix?

We suggest that what Mr. Rush was really doing was grandstanding with malice and trying to draw a connection between the clothing of troubled youths and by implication call attention to young black man; albeit, it simply does not work that way.

The hoodie serves a multitude of purposes. Long sleeves to cover the arms, a small kangaroo pouch located in front for the hands, with a deluxe oversized hood to keep the head warm, dry, or out of the wind taking into consideration that the buyers of this clothing are normally living in cold and wet temperate climates. Furthermore, the hoodie has become an object of trendiness inasmuch as the embellishments, logos, and prominent company names are seen here and there.

The hoodies charm has made it in Hollywood because it is such a versatile bit of clothing. In a fairly recent film called, I am Number Four (Adam Pettyrfer, Timothy Olyphant, Tess Palmer, and Dianna Agron) star as two well to do young men who wear hoodies because they know how to blend into society and remain hidden.

Nothing whatsoever is the reason they must blend in – unless of course one is from another planet with Mogadorian bounty hunters trying to kill him, therefore he decides to blend in at his local high school.

I believe that if someone were to do the etymology on this particular word — there does exist some rather peculiar similarities. Where does this word “Hoddie” come from: one would be hard-pressed not to think immediately of the neighborhood. Therefore, is it permissible to say the word hoodie came from the “hood.” Sure it works but for some reason there are other considerations that we should take into consideration. Like for one as far back as I can think — in American society — the first cognitive thought I seem to recall would be (in my life) the early professional boxing days.

Sure any and all boxers wore some type of extra sweat clothing when preparing for their next fight; weight considerations, running during inclimate weather, and an attempt to hold the body’s temperature in check furthermore was insurance for one’s boxer and himself.  And then the athletic companies began to get involved where the two most prominent sports where the hoodie is worn seems to be in the National Basketball Association, professional Boxing, and more so the hoodie gained in prominence with the cool folks in school. Now days every manufacturer from Macy’s to Adidas to the extremely popular left coast brands of Roxy, Hollister, and American Eagle and perhaps the biggest is Jordan’s from Nike.

I hope that this expose has been informative as to why some hoodies are very popular; moreover, I certainly wish that by description of sub-cultures, sports history, and the overall statistical data of who is playing those sports could lead someone to believe anything. Now, having stated that a hoodie in the surfer crowd is referred to as — depending on material used — either a hoodie or a poncho.

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