[On wearing a hoodie]

“Of course, the hoodie is not the only piece of contentious clothing.

In France, the gilet jaune (yellow vest) became a riotous, anti-establishment badge of honour; while in the US, Make America Great Again (Maga) baseball caps have become a symbol of rightwing bitterness.

But today,……. both the hoodie and the black male wearing it have come to be seen as emblems of violence: the image of a black guy in a hoodie as a violent thug has permeated our public consciousness.”

“……Young black men have told me that they often wear a hoodie with the hood up to anonymise themselves from what they see as a hostile, judgmental society.

But this defence mechanism is seen as surly or intimidating.

Such a clash of cultural dynamics reminds me of Windrush generation kids schooled in 1950s and 60s Britain who, having been raised in the Caribbean to avoid direct eye contact with elders (as this was considered disrespectful), found themselves receiving the cane in the UK for not making eye contact with white teachers who thought their behaviour impudent.

……..And when a genuinely positive image of black men is broadcast, this image is confined to a very narrow range of qualities: footballers, basketball players, rappers or predominantly hyper-masculine characters in films.

They are aggressive, not intellectual.”


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