By Deric Muhammad (Source: FinalCall.com) –
If Jesus came back to save the world how would he be received if he chose to show up in a “hoodie?” If the “cover of darkness” that he decided to come under were a Black fleece hooded sweatshirt and he arbitrarily walked in and sat on the back row of the church, synagogue or the mosque, how would we respond? These are questions that swim around in my head every winter when I pull my hoodies out and decide that I don’t want my bald head to freeze over. There is something about a young, Black male in a hoodie that makes everyone want to double check to make sure their doors are locked when in reality some of us are just trying to keep our ears warm.
As a member of the Nation of Islam, I was trained to wear a suit practically every day. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad dressed his followers in business attire, because he wanted to prepare us to meet with the business people of the entire world. He also taught us that “opposites attract”; that we should not go among our people offering what we have been taught looking exactly as they do. These are profound lessons that every Black man in America can benefit from.
When I am “dressed up” in a custom suit, I am usually treated with some form of distinction. White people can’t help but at some point ask “excuse me, sir, you look so sharp and well-spoken, what do you do?” That’s their way of saying with political correctness, “you don’t look like the rest of the nigg**s.” If I am recognized for my activist role in the community, I am sometimes treated with some form of honor. However, when I am “dressed down” in my jeans, sneakers and my “hoodie,” I get the opportunity to see how young Black males are treated for real. People double-lock their doors, clutch their pocketbooks, decide to wait for “the next elevator” and can be generally rude. It’s a more profound experience when you change from your three-piece suit to your hoodie on the same day. It’s as if the world becomes a different place. And while I recognize the power of presentation and how wearing a suit and tie can afford you some visible advantages, I also recognize that not every brother has a suit or tie and I am more concerned about the way my people are treated “dressed down” than the way I am treated “dressed up.”
I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking this treatment is justified, because “these youngsters just need to pull up their pants.” I agree, in part. Walking around with your boxer stains on display is not the way to earn respect. But, the truth is we feel this way because the Black male image has been hijacked, repackaged and villainized by the mass media. When we see a Black male wearing a hoodie, we automatically think of “O-Dog” from the movie “Menace to Society” shooting the owner of a convenience store because he said something about his mother.
We don’t look at the man in the hoodie and think “Wow, I wonder if that’s Brother Deric under there.” The reality is, it just might be.
And a more important reality is that the biggest thieves, murderers and robbers in the country wear suits, not hoodies. You should be even more afraid when you see them coming.