Geraldo Rivera recently fell into the victim blaming trap of "well ... what were you wearing" in the Trayvon Martin shooting death case. While saying that he believed George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who shot and killed Martin for walking-while-black, should be investigated thoroughly, he fell into the same logic trap many people fall into -- telling victims to modify their behavior rather than staying focused on the self-appointed Batman who stalked and shot a kid.
From Huffington Post:
"But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies," Rivera insisted. "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was."
When asked to clarify his remarks, Rivera said that he cautioned his own son against wearing hoodies. He explained, "When you, when you see a kid walking — Juliet — when you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles. Take that hood off, people look at you and they — what do they think? What’s the instant identification, what’s the instant association?
This is right up there with being a rape victim and being asked about your skirt length. Never mind the fact that according to the girl Martin was on the phone with at the time Zimmerman was stalking him, Martin DIDN'T have his "hoodie" up. He told the girl, later as he was being pursued, he was going to put it up to hide his face from the strange man following him.
From The Orlando Sentinel:
The 16-year-old girl, who was not identified, said in a phone call recorded by ABC News this morning that as Trayvon was walking he told her "some man was watching him" so he pulled his hoodie over his head.
She told attorneys she then heard the 17-year-old ask "What are you following me for?"
Based on Geraldo's argument, if you're black and brown and a boy (or man) you should just never wear a hooded sweatshirt. But does that also mean you shouldn't wear jeans, overalls, coveralls, anything smudged with dirt (even if you're coming home from your job in construction), tennis shoes, jogging pants, sweatpants or anything "casual" in public unless they want to get accidentally mistaken for a robber. Black and brown men should also not go out alone, especially on walks, to walk their dogs, go running or otherwise be outside unless they are being escorted by a white person. If they can't be escorted by a white person, they should carry "I'm not a criminal" papers.
Aaaaaand suddenly we're right back to this:
The territorial legislature approved a section entitled “Slaves,” found in the Laws of the District of Louisiana, on October 1, 1804. This section codified the laws that black persons in Missouri, whether free or slave, were required to recognize and obey. The law prohibited slaves from leaving their master's property without permission and/or a written pass. Slaves could not own or carry a gun, powder, shot, club, or other weapon. Exceptions were made for those slaves living on a “frontier plantation”; their owner could obtain a license from the justice of the peace allowing the slaves to possess a weapon, presumably for protection against Indians and wild animals, or perhaps for hunting. The black code forbade slaves to take part in riots and unlawful assemblies, or make seditious speeches; all infractions were punishable by public whipping. Other rules in this section affected how slaves traveled between plantations, including how long a slave could remain on another's property and how many visiting slaves were allowed at a particular property at any one time; certain exceptions were applied. Obviously difficult to enforce, slaves and owners frequently ignored this rule with no legal repercussion. To further limit slaves' interaction with free society, the legislature restricted commercial dealings between a slave and a free man, white or black; to do business with a slave required permission of the owner.
It's not about the clothes you wear, Geraldo. It's about people taking their prejudices to a death sentence level when it should have stayed somewhere around "stay in your car" and "stop following that kid" level.
There's no clothing a black or Latino kid can wear that would eradicate racism. And it's not on those who are the victims of racism to "cure" those who have racist beliefs through an elaborate contortionist act of apologizing for existing.
Again, Geraldo. No apologies. Stop giving those made uncomfortable by the circumstances of this case an easy "out" by saying "if only the victim had worn a different outfit" maybe he wouldn't have incurred the wrath of the guy who has called the police more than 40 times in the past year.