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The Hoodie Argument

Photo taken from Flickr user: Harlequeen

Geraldo Rivera made the following statements on the show Fox & Friends:

  • “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”
  • “You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta – you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace.”

After his segment on Fox & Friends, he tweeted two other statements:

  • “My own son just wrote to say he’s ashamed of my position re hoodies-still I feel parents must do whatever they can to keep their kids safe”
  • “Its not blaming the victim Its common sense-look like a gangsta&some armed schmuck will take you at your word”

I never knew that wearing a hoodie and looking like a gangsta were synonymous. Herein lies part of the problem with Geraldo Rivera’s argument. For some reason, Rivera is fixated on the hoodie being a dangerous article of clothing. A hoodie alone, I don’t believe, can be considered responsible for endangering someone’s life. And looking like a gangsta shouldn’t be responsible either, though, it probably would sway someone to look at a person with a much more vigilant eye.

What we wear, that is, our entire attire, and not just one article of clothing, certainly does influence people to form a particular judgment of us. Society as a whole simply does not hold the same opinion of an individual wearing baggy street clothes and of one wearing more formal attire, especially if the former is of a minority group and the latter is white. Sometimes even the same clothes on individuals of different races will formulate different judgments. Whether we like it or not, someone’s outside appearance and race will determine the type of attention, reaction, and treatment they will receive.

What’s important to remember is that clothing should not fabricate, whether positively or negatively, an individual’s character, and, consequently, cannot adequately determine their threat to society. Wearing gangsta-looking clothes does not automatically mean that someone is dangerous, just like wearing a suit, let’s say, does not mean that someone cannot be dangerous; it works both ways. Ultimately, even if someone looks like a gangsta no one should want to shoot them if they’re not being harmed by them.

Having grown up in a community that is primarily made up of African American, Asian, and Latino populations, I have seen and have been one of those stereotypical hoodie-wearing, young, and dark-skinned males. There was a time when I choose to wear clothes far bigger than my actual size because I was influenced by what I saw around me, but not because I was part of that crowd. Eventually I grew out of that phase and started wearing clothes that actually fit. Part of the reason was because I didn’t want to be associated with negative social circles; deep down I knew that outside of my community people would associate me and my clothing choices with being a gangsta. At no point in time, however, did I stop wearing hoodies.

While I do believe that individuals, especially those from minority groups, should choose what they wear carefully in order to not be seen as a threat, at the end of the day clothing choices is not what kills people. Weapons in the hands of ignorant and racist individuals who make lethal and rash decisions based on someone’s appearance, is what kills people.

Do I look like a gangsta?

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Fighting Against Fray

Photo taken from Flickr user: keppet

I find the recent attention on the KONY 2012 campaign quite interesting. On the one hand, we should all be aware of what’s going on in other countries, so might as well take advantage of social media to bring about that awareness. On the other hand, I question the commitment and real intentions of those taking part of such campaigns.

Let me say, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reposting a link or video online. I think it’s great that people are watching and sharing this issue, after all it may be seen by someone who will want to take non-virtual action, and that would be a step in the right direction. What I don’t think is great is that people will see something and forget about it the next day (not literally) or simply won’t take further action.

Am I disgusted by what’s happening to the children in Uganda? Yes. If I were to repost that video online, would I take any further action besides that? Honestly, probably not. This statement must make me sound careless, but I don’t believe I’m the only one who wouldn’t take further action. I’m confident to think that at least 90% of the people reposting that video online are not taking any further action on the issue.

You should want to be part of something not because it’s the latest viral epidemic, but because it’s truly an issue that you’re interested in. We all have our personal connections to different issues, and we can’t possibly devote time to every single issue in the world. It’s up to everyone to choose the issues that are top priorities for them and devote the appropriate time and attention to them.

Fighting for a cause shouldn’t begin and end with watching a video and/or by reposting a link. It can start that way, but it should definitely not stop there. If you really want to help, get involved by doing the research necessary and by continually asking questions to better educate yourself on the issue; become an advocate for it. As much as we would all like to help make the world a better place, focusing on one link, one bad guy, one organization, and one issue won’t accomplish that. It’s a start, but it takes much more than that.

Supporting Shallowness

Photo taken from Flickr user: jox.

Shallow:

  • lacking depth of intellect or knowledge; concerned only with what is obvious

Being shallow gives someone a bad reputation, and I’m not sure why. Everyone is shallow. At one point or another we are all concerned with someone’s outside appearance more so than anything else, though, hopefully that’s only temporarily.

Is shallowness a bad thing? I’m thinking, no. Here’s why:

  1. Physical attractiveness is relative.
    Shallowness is associated with being interested only in attractive people. But if you’re shallow, it simply means you focus on the outside appearance. We seek out potential partners that fit our physical preferences based on their appearance. Whether that appearance is attractive or not, is another issue. And even then, what is attractive to one person won’t always be attractive to another.
  2. Helps ease the dating process.
    Shallowness is a natural part of courtship, and quite frankly necessary. We can give every person a glance, but we can’t possibly give every person a chance. It would be impossible to try to date every person we cross paths with, simply because we might have things in common. Certainly what’s on the inside is what’s most important, but what’s on the outside helps to considerably narrow down the dating pool in the beginning.
  3. It’s as natural as natural selection.
    We are drawn to those who can best meet our physical needs and desires so that we can reach personal gratification. If those needs and desires are not met, the chances of straying away from our partners would be higher. There’s no point in dating someone who won’t make us fully happy in our relationship because we’ll end up seeking someone else instead (note: I don’t mean cheating, but simply leaving a partner to search for another).

I guess the controversy over shallowness arises because one’s appearance is not the complete package, and to be liked or disliked based only on that is not completely fair. But the reality is, our appearance has a heavy influence on others’ willingness to date us.

My emphasis here is that being shallow should not necessarily be thought of as being interested only in good looking people. “Good looking” can be observed differently by different individuals. Shallowness is more of the concern over someone’s appearance (e.g. height, muscles, curves, tattoos, piercings, etc.), more so than anything else. Ideally, that concern would only be during the initial meet and greet phase, and eventually the focus would shift to inner characteristics.

Technology Has Always Been A Secret Enemy

It would be highly challenging to live in this day and age without any technology. We depend on it, we take advantage of it, and, we can even be targets of law enforcement because of it.

When we think of technology, we most likely think of all the wonderful things we are able to accomplish because of it. However, much less talked about and highlighted are the negative aspects of it, like the traps that they can possibly set us up for. Technology makes it easier to record, track, and monitor our activity, and whether we’re involved in something incriminating or not, we all have some level of privacy we would like to keep.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court ruled in a case that discussed police installing a GPS tracker on the car of a man thought to be handling drugs. Read more about that here: Supreme Court Rejects Willy-Nilly GPS Tracking. A year ago, the California Supreme Court ruled that police can search the phones of people who are arrested. Read more about that and how to prevent police from searching data on your phone here: Why You Should Always Encrypt Your Smartphone. These two court cases are similar in that both deal with collecting information without a warrant, which deals with the Fourth Amendment, but are different in the manner in which they collect the information and in the decisions reached by the courts.

With today’s technology, privacy is slowly fading away, either because of the invading characteristics of some items (GPS, phones) or because of our own willingness to use those items and expose ourselves (blogs, social networks). There was a time when people didn’t have these things and were able to survive and thrive without them, but I’m not sure that would be the case now. Could we survive? Sure. Could we thrive? That’s questionable. Since it’s very unlikely that we would go without these items, do as they say: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Friday The 13th

Did you know that the most times Friday the 13th can happen in a year is three? Well, this year will have all three of them, the first being today and the next two on April and July. I also heard that they happen to be 13 weeks apart. I counted, and they are indeed. The only way this could be even more interesting is if the year was 2013 instead of 2012.

There are two terms for those who are fearful of today, they are friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia. Whoever is responsible for starting this fear is probably laughing out loud in their grave somewhere. This person might possibly be Thomas W. Lawson, who wrote a book a hundred years ago, Friday, the Thirteenth, which is about crashing the stock market on the day of the week and number considered to be unlucky. Whatever the case may be, it’s funny how some things can catch fire and lead to such a large “following.”

There’s no real data to show that Friday the 13th is noticeably more dangerous than other days. But, even if you’re not superstitious it’s hard to ignore today’s preconceived bad luck and if you’re like me, you will second guess things you have planned to do. For example, I was planning on cutting my hair today but, supposedly, if you cut your hair on a Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die. While this may or may not be true, do I really want to test it? No. I just hope my family members can return the favor.