Does hoodie mean hoodlum?

Trayvon Martin was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s house when he pulled his hood up. In an interview with ABC News, Trayvon’s girlfriend said he pulled his hood up because a man was watching him. That man was neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who had already deemed Martin to be “up to no good” and assumed he was “on drugs or something” in the 911 call he made to report the young man’s presence, even before the hood came up.

Several witnesses reported hearing an argument ensue between the two before they heard a gunshot. When police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman had a bloody nose and a wound on the back of his head, and Martin was dead from a bullet to the chest. Zimmerman told police that he had killed Martin in an act of self-defense, and the Sanford Police Department let him go.

Geraldo Rivera, a contributor for FOX News, appeared on the talk show “Fox and Friends” on March 23, and said “the hoodie is as responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”

Racial profiling is an issue many people have dealt with at some point in their lives, but how often do they experience profiling based on their attire?

For Gabriella Toledo, a third year interior architectural design major, the answer is all the time.

“People are very quick to judge you by what you wear, the piercings you have, your hair color, the tattoos you have,” she says. “They don’t realize their assumptions can be totally opposite of my capabilities.”

Toledo has what most people would consider the “punk rock” look. The snakebite piercings on her bottom lip, eyebrow piercing above her right eye, heavy eye make-up, tattoos on her arms, black clothing, an ever-changing hair color, a combination of black, blonde, and caramel, are not at all indicators of who she is.

She is an exemplary student and holds a steady job at, a neighborhood grocery store.

“For my job, I talk to people on the phone a lot, but they come into the store sometimes, and when they see me, they’re shocked that I look like the way I do, it’s just irritating,” says Toledo.

When asked about the Trayvon Martin case, Toledo said, “Not everybody that wears a hoodie is suspicious or doing something wrong. People walk around just wearing hoods for no reason—it’s just there.”

If you wear hoodies, your life is in danger. No longer can you simply grab the warm, convenient outerwear you’ve grown accustomed to wearing without a second thought. Now you have to worry about the image you present and whether it could get you killed.

Will people think you’re keeping warm, or will they think you’re a miscreant?

There is no doubt hoodies have developed a bad rap; nevertheless, people continue to wear them. Hoodies have become indispensible whether used for warmth, as a fashion statement, or to show solidarity with the Martin family.

Most people wear hoodies without thinking twice about how other people will perceive them. They never think about what sort of statement they’re making, and they certainly never fear for their lives — they shouldn’t have to, and Trayvon Martin shouldn’t have lost his life over a hoodie.

The bottom line is that George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin because the hoodie the boy wore made him a suspicious character in Zimmerman’s mind. Martin is now dead and Zimmerman is still free.

Where’s the justice in that? They say Lady Justice is blind; is there a hoodie over her eyes?