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Hoodies: To wear or not to wear

With the Trayvon Martin case in the news, a new angle of the story has emerged: the acceptability of students wearing droopy hoodies.

As most everyone is aware by now, Trayvon was a young black teenager who was shot and killed Feb. 26 by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, who claims he acted in self-defense, was not initially charged, and public outcry has become rampant. Even with an investigation under way and a trial expected, the outrage over Zimmerman's act is not subsiding. Many of the protesters are calling Trayvon's murder an example of racial hatred, while others believe the justice system should take its course before any accusations are made.

Zimmerman has said that Trayvon was acting suspiciously the night he was killed and pointed to the fact that it was dark outside and that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie. Many backers of Trayvon have recently worn hoodies to protest racial hatred in America. These people are protesting the fact that, in their minds, young black men cannot wear hoodies in public for fear that they will look as if they are part of a gang and are dangerous.

People have a duty in this world to take responsibility for their actions. I am in no way blaming Trayvon for his own death; however, wearing clothing that makes someone look suspicious late at night, for example, can come at a cost. We live in a fast-moving and dangerous world, and people must be proactive and take personal responsibility.

In England, where I recently visited, young people are banned from wearing hoodies and baseball caps in many shopping malls in order to promote orderly conduct and to prevent antisocial behavior. Therefore, it is not absurd to say that even though the death of Trayvon was horrific and uncalled for, Trayvon should have acted and dressed in a way that wouldn't have made him look out of the ordinary and suspicious to people like Zimmerman.

The question now becomes: Should young people rethink how they act and dress even if they don't look "cool"? It is obviously not necessary for kids to wear baggy pants, tight skirts, oversized hoodies or other such clothing in public. Wearing this attire is not dignified and makes students look unpresentable, further tarnishing the reputation of American students these days. Clothing such as hoodies can make young people look threatening.

Sadly, many people now look at young people and judge them based on how they look. Many use stereotypes and assume that all kids who look alike are alike. This is the harsh reality of our time, and we all need to take firm action about it.

Zimmerman's alleged act was in no way justifiable; however, if Trayvon wasn't wandering around at night with that hoodie on, the outcome of events might have been a lot different. It does not matter what race you are; we are all Americans, and all young people need to wise up and start looking out for themselves and their well-being.


Michael Khan is a sophomore at Canisius High School.