Sunday, July 14, 2013

BLACK



In 2011, when my son was around the age of five, he had a black hooded sweatshirt that he lived in. It was a tad bit oversized but it was an innocent choice of attire that kept him warm when he was cold and whose pockets served as storage for his toy dinosaurs and action figures. He hasn’t worn it much since earlier this spring and right now it hangs in his closet between his yellow raincoat (which, of course, is hooded) and his denim jacket. I’ve seen him wear it so many times—to school, to the zoo, to the park. But after last night, I’ll never ever look at that little black hooded sweatshirt the same way again because it was a little black hooded sweatshirt cost 17-year-old Trayvon Martin his life.

Like most of the country, I was anxious to hear the verdict last night and when I heard those two words—not guilty—the emotion that overwhelmed me was inexplicable. I didn’t know if I was sad or shocked or angry or hurt or disappointed or scared, but I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it was all of the above. Since hearing the verdict, I’ve held in a typhoon of tears and I’m finally allowing myself to release them as I type these very words.

For the last three years, I’ve been part of the style blogging community, a world that looks at fashion on a very superficial level. It’s about our physical appearance and putting our best foot forward. But, as I declare in my blog’s tagline, there’s more to fashion than getting dressed. I sincerely believe that. For us, we say that it’s a creative outlet that allows us to share and inspire and connect with like-minded individuals around the world. We compliment style bloggers on the skirt they’re wearing in their latest post, we create collages of clothes that we wish we owned, we publish posts displaying our new purchases.

But our clothing can be so much deeper than that.

Yes, fashion can be fun and glamorous and exciting. But fashion is accompanied by history. Fashion is accompanied by analysis. And fashion is accompanied by a cultural component, which couldn’t be more apparent than with the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. That sole article of clothing—the black hooded sweatshirt—was the catalyst for a sequence of events that has forever changed our nation. Trayvon Martin did what we do every single day—get dressed—yet what he wore cost him his life, simply because someone thought it was ‘suspicious.’

It started with a black hooded sweatshirt.

The irony is that the color black has played such a symbolic role in this tragedy, from the moment it occurred up until right now. In the black of night, a 17-year-old black boy wearing a black hooded sweatshirt had his life taken. We showed support with a ‘blackout’—swapping out our profile pictures on social media for black squares—and after hearing a verdict that left a black hole in many of our hearts, we protested in the black of night for the justice of that 17-year-old black boy.

I hear about tragedies every single day—on the news, on celebrity news sites, on social media. Yet this one touched my heart unlike anything else ever has because, in less than ten years, my son could be Trayvon Martin. As a mother, it’s terrifying enough to cause a lifetime of sleepless nights—and it started with a black hooded sweatshirt.

When I see my son in his black hooded sweatshirt, I see the very same thing I saw when I saw the picture of Trayvon Martin in his black hooded sweatshirt: a little boy in a black hooded sweatshirt. And from this point on, whenever I see my son in his black hooded sweatshirt, I won’t just see my son in his black hooded sweatshirt. I’ll see Trayvon Martin and I’ll hope that no one will ever be so threatened by the clothing my son is wearing (and the color of his skin) that they do him harm.

For my son, his black hooded sweatshirt is merely an article of clothing that he wears when it’s cool outside. For Trayvon Martin, it was the article of clothing he wore when he took his last breath. For me, it’s a reminder of the world we live in. It’s a reminder of race relations in our country. It’s a reminder of the society I’m raising my son in. It’s a reminder of Trayvon Martin.

It started with a black hooded sweatshirt. It ended with a life. Rest in peace, Trayvon.








8 comments:

  1. It is NOT about hoodies. White people where hoodies and never are accused of wrongdoing. It's the culture of this country to blame if Black and Acquit if white. Simple as that. And I have very little hope of it changing because that was supposed to have been taken care of already in the 60's. the fact that it still exists in this generation means that its still there ans stronger than it ever was.

    We as a people, need to stop looking to them for validation. And make our own game plane for love peace and happiness in this wilderness. That is the only way it will ever be on our terms and the only way we will get a semblance of justice.

    It's silly to expect the white man and his justice system to grant it to the people he is oppressing.


    Peace

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  2. Hi Serenity,

    I don't think this was an analysis of race relations, past and present. It was a poignant essay from a mother who sees many parallels in her baby boy and Trayvon. In this instance, in this space, it IS about a hoodie.

    And, also: It's awfully ironic that you concluded with "peace" when your divisive "we" versus "them" rhetoric does anything but cultivate an atmosphere of peaceful dialogue.

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  3. He was not killed because he wore a hoodie. He was not killed because he looked suspicious. He was killed because he beat Zimmerman horribly, apparently "mixed-martial arts" style, smashing his head into the pavement. Everyone keeps portraying Trayvon as a completely innocent kid, conveniently forgetting the pictures of him with his gun, the fact that he was on drugs, and the numerous times he was in trouble with the police and suspending from school for fighting and more.
    It's horrible that Trayvon is dead, just as it's horrible when any life is tragically cut short. But please don't make this a racial issue. In case everyone is forgetting, Zimmerman isn't white; in fact, he actually comes from a mixed-race Hispanic family that includes black people. But the media starts calling him White-Hispanic, just to add fuel to the fire. I guarantee that had Zimmerman shot a white kid, the headlines would scream out about a Hispanic man shooting a white man, and would never have added that "white" to Zimmerman's description.
    There's an article on the Washington Times about this whole horrible ordeal. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/12/the-media-lynching-of-george-zimmerman/
    It's a great source on the facts; it doesn't twist anything, just presents the facts in an unbiased way.
    And don't think that Zimmerman is just walking away free as a bird. At the end of the day, no matter what the circumstances, whether self-defense or not, he has to live with the fact that he shot and killed a 17 year old

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  4. Okay People! Listen this post was not meant to be a vent at the justice system post. Not at all is Ty saying that Trayvon died because of his hoodie and not did she even say that Trayvon was an angel these were Ty's opinions about fashion. this blog is about fashion so this is what this post was about I think you people that's angry about the verdict is ready to take it out on anybody that is in the way and in any way that you can. This was merely about her son having a hoodie and how it could have been anybody's son wearing the fashion of a hoodie. So people take the time to cool off go back and read the post, that way you won't sound so ignorant with your comments that you are leaving. this is not a DEBATE blog. Even though the rallies and protest before and after the verdict people have been supporting the Trayvon and his family with the symbol of the hoodie NO! It is not about the hoodie. So please n clear your heads and go back and read the post. And Anonymous if George Zimmerman would have stayed in his car he wouldn't have gotten the beaten (as you say) that he deserved. And in my opinion George Zimmerman is a racist and I approve of this message.

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  5. Wow!!!!!! Well said . My heart goes out to all the mothers in this world raising little black boys . I wonder how the celebs like Madonna , Sandra, and Charlize are feeling !!!????




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  6. each individual who followed this case will draw a different conclusion and have different opinions for different reasons. unless those opinions are of total ignorance - there's no right or wrong. but as mothers of little black boys, we walk away with something far more emotional and personal as a result of the verdict.

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  7. I'm a day late and a dollar short on commenting, but this is beautifully written, Ty. So touching. (And not really related to the post, but that's the cutest picture of your son!)
    So glad you're back to blogging, and giving lots of words in addition to the wardrobe!

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  8. This is a beautifully written post that pseaks VOLUMES!

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