Hack “journalist” Geraldo Rivera has a history of making an ass of himself on the teevee. I’m sure we all remember the gigantic fizzle that was Al Capone’s vault. Well, Geraldo’s at it again. He has, once more, firmly nailed his “I AM A HACK, NOT A JOURNALIST” flag to the mast, this time on the March 23, 2012 episode of Fox and Friends, by absurdly blaming Trayvon Martin’s death on his clothing, a hoodie sweatshirt:
“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera said on Fox and Friends. “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. That’s what happens. It is an instant, reflexive action.”
This assertion is 100% absurd, and only a hack masquerading as a journalist would say such a thing. The hoodie is ubiquitous all over the world. I’m a 57 year old white woman – and I regularly wear hoodies because they’re a comfortable and practical item of clothing. Everyone I know, old, young, black, white, male, female – we all wear hoodies. Somehow, I can’t see myself as a “gangsta wannabe”- I just want to be comfortable.
Geraldo Rivera’s blame-the-victim-style assertion actually has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual item of clothing Trayvon was wearing when he was shot dead by cop-wannabe George Zimmerman. Geraldo’s assertion that the hoodie was responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death is racist codespeak for the purpose of perpetuating the sinister meme that young black men are dangerous thugs and gangstas out to prey on decent (white) people.
By all accounts, Trayvon Martin was a fine young man, a good student who loved his nieces and nephews. If he was white, he would be considered a sterling example of American youth, but, according to people like Geraldo Rivera and the rest of the rightwing mouthpieces at FOX and on conservative talk radio, Trayvon was a dangerous thug wearing his gangsta uniform – a hoodie – and was on the prowl to rob, steal or rape decent (white) people on that rainy night in February.
What happened to Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26, 2012 was a terrible tragedy.
What makes this pointless murder even more of a tragedy is the pervasive and sinister undercurrent of racism present in Geraldo Rivera’s ridiculous assessment of Trayvon as a gangsta. Mr. Rivera’s statement about Trayvon being a “gangsta wannabe” had nothing whatsoever to do with Trayvon, the human being, a bright and well-adjusted 17 year old high school student with a bright future who loved his family, but had everything to do with the fact that Trayvon had dark skin, and therefore, according to the racist meme, he must be a dangerous gangsta, and his hoodie simply confirmed that “fact.”
We need to take a long hard look at racism in this country. It is an unspeakable horror that in America, thanks to the flames of race-based fear fanned by the conservative right, the cult of gun ownership and to dangerous NRA-backed laws like “Stand Your Ground,” it is open season on African-American men, young and old. How terrible and frightening it must be for the parents of every young black man in this country to see their sons walk out their front doors and into a world where racists are armed to the teeth and just waiting for some punk to “make their day.”
The death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman is a teachable moment. Let us not waste it.