I’ve been following the story about Trayvon Martin, the teen who was shot and killed in Florida, and I find myself continually more disturbed as the weeks go on.
I’m fortunate that I’ve lived a good life, sheltered even, and have never experienced racism or racial profiling first hand. I don’t doubt it happens, it’s just not in my day to day life so when I read or hear about it feels so surreal. I want to believe, perhaps parts of me need to believe, that the police have good reasons for the way this has played out, but I can’t deny the outcome to date doesn’t sit well with me. I fully admit that I don’t know all the details, perhaps when we do things will be clearer, or perhaps we’ll never know.
What changed this from a tragic news story to something more personal for me is when the discussion turned to what Trayvon was wearing that day. A certain media personality has commented that perhaps the fact that he was wearing a hoodie in an affluent neighbourhood was a contributing factor. My guts twisted at this, admittedly it’s not because I’m some great advocate against stereotypes, it’s because I’m a mother. I’m a parent of a teenage boy who wears a hoodie on a daily basis and I could not imagine losing a child under these circumstances and then having someone say it was somehow his own fault for what he was wearing. Add to that, the notion that perhaps I am raising him in a world where he could be judged for something as simple as this to the extent that his life could be in danger.
I’ve watched as various marches and rallies have been shown on TV where the protestors are wearing hoodies, the candlelight vigils offering sympathy to the family with all the people wearing hoodies. I’ve watched celebrities and athletes and every day people changing their Twitter photos to show them wearing hoodies. Somehow the hoodie has come to represent something about all this. Whether that be a call for justice, a protest against racial profiling, sympathy for the family, or something infinitely more personal to each of us.
To me it resonates because of all the women who have been harassed or assaulted and then had their choice of clothing called into question, essentially victimizing them all over again. The “had it coming” argument sticks in my throat.
So for all those reasons, and perhaps a few that I struggle to verbalize, I just felt compelled to wear a hoodie myself. I am in RL and wanted to extend this to my SL as well.
I was asking on SLU today if anyone had heard of any Second Life Hoodie protests or specially made products. It didn’t seem anyone had so I went in search myself, planning simply to buy a hoodie when I came across one on the marketplace that had a picture of Trayvon on the back. there was an exciting moment for me where you realize that a perfect stranger that you otherwise wouldn’t ever know if it wasn’t for Second Life is feeling and thinking the same thing you are. I contacted the creator and had a chat with her about how I was feeling about all this, and what I wanted to do, and she lowered the price to only $10L so that anyone else who wanted to wear this wouldn’t find cost an issue.
I’m not suggesting anyone has to buy this, please don’t feel obligated. I’m not even going to pressure anyone into wearing a hoodie at all. Would I like to be part of something bigger in SL, some type of virtual protest or show of support? Sure, but ultimately this is a very personal thing for me.
I’m sharing this story just in case there are others out there who wish to wear a hoodie in general, or this one in particular, as a symbol of what they are feeling about all of this. I know it’s just a virtual world, and one hoodie wearing avatar won’t change anything, but I feel good about this. I really do. Maybe that is reason enough.
I’ve also realized, perhaps for the first time, that I can use the photographs I take in Second Life to express thoughts that I’m not eloquent or articulate enough to say in text.
UPDATE: If you know of any Million Hoodie March products, groups or events in Second Life please leave a comment here on my blog or on SLU on the following thread
or via Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/SLpancake
I’ve also created a Flickr Group http://www.flickr.com/groups/sl-million-hoodie-march/ if anyone else would like to post pictures of their SL avatar in a hoodie.