I am wearing a sweatshirt tomorrow. I will at least be wearing one in the morning seeing that it will be fairly chilly. I will not, however, be participating in the “hoodie does not mean hoodlum” demonstration.
I’m not participating not because I don’t think what happened to Trayvon was a tragedy, nor because I do not think that American racial prejudices might underly the incident. I will not be participating because of what this sort of movement really says about our generation.
This sort of movement is akin to the widespread viral sharing of the KONY 2012 video on Facebook and other social media. Aside from the flaws of the charity that created the video, the movement seemed to signify that our generation’s preferred means of supporting a cause was to simply click a few buttons. In this model, charity could not be easier: push some buttons, perhaps even change your Facebook profile picture, and you have already taken steps to change the world.
Tomorrow’s demonstration is no different. Wearing a hoodie around a college campus might show solidarity with the Martin family or even show support for ending racial biases in America, but it ultimately achieves very little. Yes, you will make a statement, for what that’s worth, but will simply really wearing a sweatshirt bring real change?
Alan Bloom once said, “the students [of the 1960s] substituted conspicuous compassion for their parents’ conspicuous consumption.” If you are going to wear a sweatshirt tomorrow in support of Trayvon, I am not discouraging you from doing so. I do, however, request that you also make a donation to the ACLU or a similar advocacy group.