Dear Geraldo, the world's boy king wears a hoodie

Geraldo Rivera declares that Florida teen Trayvon Martin was killed in part because of his hoodie. In the tech world, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is known for his hoodie. Might he set Rivera straight?

How would his hoodie go down in Central Florida? James Martin/CNET

Sometimes people say things and don't mean them. But only sometimes.

Geraldo Rivera helpfully explained this week why Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a man called George Zimmerman. He declared: "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was."

Rivera talked about warning his dark-skinned son not to wear a hoodie. Rivera's own son, though, has now responded by saying he is "ashamed" of his father's position.

I know that no one would want to belittle the appalling and sinister nature of this event, one in which it appears that an armed man killed an unarmed teen, after following him down a street. Many, though, besides Rivera's son, are tempted to question Rivera's revelatory assertion.

Why is it that the most famous person in the tech world can make the hoodie his style signature, while the same piece of clothing on someone else's body supposedly offers connotations of threat and violence?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Rivera contends that if blacks and Latinos wear hoodies, it only turns them into objects of, at the very least, fear. Yet, in the tech world, Zuckerberg's hoodie has become as much a defining symbol as have his novel views of privacy.

He is not alone in sporting the look.

If the very young-looking Zuckerberg were to walk down the street of Sanford, Fla., where the incident took place, would he be hassled by neighborhood watch? Or would he be mobbed -- or even ignored? Even if his hood was up and therefore shaded his face?

Would Rivera suggest that Zuckerberg and his fellow hoodied honchos pop along to Banana Republic and buy themselves a vast stock of simple, white-collared shirts for their own safety?

Some famous personalities have already taken to Twitter to express their disdain at Rivera's suggestion that clothes marketh the man.

The Miami Heat's players posed for a hoodied picture yesterday, which was then posted to Twitter by Lebron James.

And it isn't merely the Heat that's bringing a little heat to the issue online. Moms in Portland, Ore., have donned hoodies in a supportive protest. They also created a Facebook page to organize themselves.

A "Million Hoodie March" has been organized, where everyone will don hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin.

The Twitter hashtag #hoodie is also enjoying some increased activity, including plenty of acid barbs.

Some, perhaps rightly, suggest that the Web and Twitter were slow to make an issue of this troubling incident. Mashable's Lance Ulanoff offers that tweeters seemed to be far more interested in the Oscars on the day Trayvon Martin died.

Identity is something with which the online world is very much concerned. Perhaps those in the tech world for whom the hoodie is a sartorial symbol might make their feelings heard. It couldn't hurt, could it?

 

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