I began organizing “Hoodie Day” just over 24 hours ago. I was frustrated by the apathy and the lack of action or discourse on this campus regarding not just the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, but a series of racially charged incidents in the media in the last few weeks. I wanted a simple way to express a potent idea: One’s appearance should not determine their safety. A girl wearing revealing clothing does not ‘deserve’ to be sexually assaulted. A students religion should not warrant investigation by the NYPD. Choosing to wear visible symbols of piety, such as the hijab, or veil, should not be an invitation for violent murder, under the pretense that that woman is a terrorist. And, regardless of the specifics of the altercation, a young man should not be pursued and lose his life because assumptions [may have been] made about his character or intentions because of the color of this skin.
Whether or not you choose to wear a hoodie tomorrow to express solidarity with this idea, here are some other ways you may choose to be involved in the discussion:
There will be petitions regarding the lack of Ohio legislative support for anti racial profiling resolutions currently in Congress, available for signing during breakfast and lunch hours in Peirce tomorrow.
There are an estimated 200,000 Arab Americans in the state of Ohio, yet not a single Ohio legislator has co-signed H.Res. 283, a resolution “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Federal Government should takes steps to counter the growth in anti-Muslim sentiments, targeted rhetorical attacks, and violence against the Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian American communities.” There will be opportunities to contact your representative regarding this resolution as well.
Interested community members can also participate at 4 p.m. outside Rosse Hall in a time of community reflection, details forthcoming via allstu/allemp. There are also other events being planned as a follow-up to tomorrow’s demonstration. If you are interested in pursuing questions of diversity at Kenyon, I urge to you attend the next Project Open Voices meeting, this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Peirce 210. I also want to personally congratulate Rebecca Chowdhury, Andrew Firestone, Jenny Colmenero and the other organizers of that initiative, and for supporting me in organizing ‘Hoodie Day.”
Matt I appreciate your criticism, but I think it makes clear your lack of experience in cultural/religious advocacy groups, community organizing, and social justice activism. Encouraging my peers to wear a hoodie is not the end goal- rather it is an expression of solidarity with those around the country who are equally disturbed by this case, and other instances of profiling, discrimination, bias, etc. If 3 people or 300 are wearing hooded sweatshirts tomorrow, that’s cool–it sends the message that there are students here who are engaged in social issues and care about justice. I understand that tomorrow won’t implement macro-level changes, but as someone who has experienced/witnessed the legislative process, lobbying process, and community organizing process firsthand I know that grassroots endeavors, which can begin with simple acts like donning a symbolic piece of clothing, are THE crucial first step (barring access to millions of dollars) in asserting the need for systemic change. You never know what will fly in if you open a window.
As with any and all demonstrations of this nature, the idea is not that putting on the hoodie is the end goal, but rather the catalyst for heightened engagement for those it reaches. If even one student goes and ‘Googles’ “Trayvon Martin” or “hate crimes against Muslims” (etc.) as a result of my advocacy over the last few days, then I value that, and I am proud to have worked to spark discourse and raise awareness about a topic that was previously unknown to that peer. With all due respect, as someone who has organized over 40 cultural and political events on this campus the last 3 years, though I acknowledge the validity of those who criticize this event, the battle against ‘slacktivism,’ etc. until you take concrete steps to work for systemic change (here, in Ohio, nationally, globally) for a cause you value, please don’t disrespect the efforts of your peers.