This experience was so crazy that I had to write about it. This coming saturday we have a big event that we’ve been planning for the past couple of weeks called “Cleveland Decides.” Its a free concert at the Rock and Roll hall of fame featuring Jadakiss, Ray Jr., Lolah Brown, DJ Meel, DJ StephFloss, K von, Ymz, and Tropikana. The concert is dedicated to everyone who took the initiative to get registered and voted early. So I was outside in front of the Board of elections (100 feet away for the critics) giving out tickets to anyone who wanted to attend. Now mind you I’m usually suited and booted. I actually feel more comfortable wearing a suit and dress shoes but today I decided to throw on a black hoodie, trench coat, and ugg boots. It was chilly outside and I had plans of being out there for a couple hours so I rather be warm than anything. I cant remember the amount of uncomfortable stares that I received on that day.
I don’t usually dress in this attire but I did today because…I wanted to. You and I can dress anyway we like. What you can’t control is how people will treat you because of it. People who have been knowing me since I was a student at MLK High School looked at me like I was a criminal. Now if they could treat me like that then I can only imagine how they are treating other young black men.
I was referred to as Trayvon Martin all day. When anyone wears a hoodie we jokingly call them trayvon. If you think Trayvon was killed because of his hoodie you are mistaken. He was killed for a much deeper reason than that! He was killed because he was perceived as a threat by a person who had stereotyped him from the beginning. Racism and hate has nothing to do with what a person is wearing! Nothing! It wasn’t the hoodie that got Trayvon murdered it was the hate in Zimmermans heart! And no hoodie created that hate. (unless your the KKK) It had nothing to do with a piece of clothing and everything to do with Zimmermans perception of who he thought Trayvon was.
After this eventful day with my hoodie (which consisted of nasty stares, comments and being surrounded by the police) I had to ask myself have I been wearing these tailor made suits and nice shoes for the world or myself? Do I dress to make YOU comfortable with me? To make YOU believe that I’m not a threat? That I’m not here to bring YOU any harm? Is my clothing really about YOU or me? No one should have to wake up and worry about what the world is going to think about them today! But we do. Our whole day is consumed with the opinions and misperceptions of the world and trying our hardest to prove to “them” that I’m better than what YOU think of me. Our whole day as black men is focused on proving to you (black women, white men and women, WORLD) that we are not dangerous. That we are safe. That you have no worries. We never truly reach our potential as men because were trying to prove to you that we are not a threat.
Don’t get me wrong our dress is important but why is it more important than who you are? Some would say that your dress is a representation of you but thats not always the case. Maybe you have no money or cold! I wasn’t less of a person and I’m not better because my suits cost alot of money. That doesn’t make me better! It doesn’t make you better!!!! The biggest crooks are in suits and ties and you trust them solely because of their dress. Don’t you think thats foolish? Trayvon wasn’t murdered because of a hood but because of hate and you must know the difference!
I plan to buy more hoods. My closest friends and family respond to my latest act of rebellion with sarcasm, “What will that prove?” I respond, “I want to show the world that your clothes don’t make you who you are and plus its starting to get cold in Cleveland.”