Geraldo’s cause of death? Trayvon’s hoodie

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Geraldo's cause of death? Trayvon's hoodie
Geraldo's cause of death? Trayvon's hoodie

Yes, even Rep. Allen West (R-FL) – ALLEN WEST – wrote yesterday about how ticked he is about Trayvon Martin’s killing, called for his killer’s arrest, and complained about the mishandling of the investigation. Still, some on the Right are finding ways to say very strange stuff about the Florida teenager’s death.

Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer (who will be a guest on “MHP” tomorrow morning) reported on Wednesday that Glenn Beck’s website called Trayvon “the aggressor.” A conservative tweeter spammed me and many others today with a weeks-old report alleging the 140-pound Trayvon was atop the 250-pound George Zimmerman, punching him when the fatal shot was fired.

(Considering 911 tapes put that into question, and the link came from the separatist Council of Conservative Citizens – think a modern-day White Citizens’ Council – you’ll forgive me if I don’t link it.)

Compared to those, Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera was soft this morning when he theorized that it was Trayvon’s hooded sweatshirt (that he wore in the rain) which got him killed:

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was…What’s the instant association? It’s crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone stick up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or get the old lady in the alcove, it’s kid with a hoodie…

“When you see a Black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation…Trayvon Martin, god bless him, an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hands. He didn’t deserve to die. But I bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on that, nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.”

Rivera upset a lot of people (including his own son) with that, and I was tempted to ignore it. But the thing is, there might be a bit of truth in that assessment.

It’s precisely because CSI: Geraldo declared it the perpetrator to be Trayvon himself, in the gated community, with the sweatshirt that I was reminded of something other than Rivera that was popular in the eighties – N.W.A.’s “F*** the Police.” No, I’m not linking that, either, but you might remember this Eazy-E verse:

They put up my picture with silence
‘Cause my identity by itself causes violence

Eazy seemed to be talking more about his rep than his race. However, considering how much all of us are urged daily to identify ourselves by what we wear, Rivera’s argument is that anyone wearing a hoodie accepts a criminal identity, regardless of the circumstances or person’s character. He’s literally equating it to the actual cause of death, giving lethal agency to clothing. This has been done for many, many years, particularly when it comes to African-American men and boys. Who is to say that Zimmerman wasn’t as ridiculous and biased as Rivera, profiling an innocent kid?

Geraldo's cause of death? Trayvon's hoodie

While not necessarily inspired by Rivera’s comments, the Miami Heat (Trayvon’s favorite NBA team) all donned hoodies in tribute. Several tweeters have changed their avatars to photos of themselves in hoodies. Our own host wore one on the air today. And a new Tumblr blog showed us one more person who loves to wear them – Rivera himself!

When you look at the several pictures of Rivera wearing this allegedly fatal outerwear with a smile, it makes his comments even more trifling. He gets that the hoodie perhaps marked Trayvon as a criminal in Zimmerman’s eyes, ans he seems perfectly OK with it:

“Stop wearing it! You know the old Johnny Cash song, don’t take your gun to town, son. Leave your gun at home,” Rivera said. “There is some things that are almost inevitable. I’m not suggesting that Trayvon Martin had any kind of weapon, but he wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way and if he had been dressed more appropriately… I think unless it’s raining out, or if you’re at a track meet, leave the hoodie home, don’t let your children go out there.”

It was raining that night.

Geraldo's cause of death? Trayvon's hoodie

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