When my son began high school in the fall of 2011, he chose not to request a locker; preferring instead to wait until he was assigned one as a baseball player in the spring. I admired Chaz’ confidence to be selected to the team, but wondered where he would keep things until then. He assured me saying, “I got this, Mom”, and with an oversized book-bag, he had his supplies covered. Storage for a coat that winter, he didn’t.
That is when Chaz introduced me to a “hoodie”, which I had called a “sweatshirt with a hood” since my childhood. He promised that his hoodie would keep him warm while waiting for the bus each morning, and I conceded as long as he kept his recently showered and still damp head covered. When the bus arrived later than usual, or on the particularly cold mornings that winter, I would yell out the back door, “Make sure your hood stays up, Chaz!”
How different my experience from Trayvon’s parents, how different my understanding of what a “hoodie” provides and what, for some, it represents. As a white family living in a comfortably middle-class neighbor-hood, I had no frame of reference for what would be done to Trayvon just a couple months later.
Since then, I have too often been reminded of this difference between us. I had prided myself on my open-mindedness, on perceiving our sameness instead of our differences…on an evolved perception of the variety within my society. But in “my” society, My Son Can Wear A Hood.