Hoodies & Hope: Trayvon Martin Case Speaks To A Latino

It was a peaceful, breezy spring day in Brooklyn, New York in 1994. It wasn’t cold enough for a coat, yet it was perfect for a light hooded sweater. I wore a tan Timberland hoodie over my Catholic school uniform to disguise my preppy getup. This day I took the long way home; I wanted extra time to listen to A Tribe Called Quest’s latest album, Midnight Marauders, on my portable Walkman (Yes! Cassettes!). I put on my hoodie, popped on my headphones and let Q-Tip and Phife dole out ear candy.

As a 13-year-old my heart and soul were overflowing with hip-hop hubris. As I walked home I noticed elderly women cross the street to avoid passing by my side. Then, as I approached the halfway point to my home, they roll up. The NYPD stopped me and asked 21 questions. “Where are you going?” “What’s the hurry?” “Where are you coming from?” Surely, New York’s finest had better things to do than to grill a Latino teenager? Not today. After 20 minutes of answering questions, they let me walk. Yet, they made sure to trail me in their car for five blocks.  

It’s nothing new. If you’re an African American or Latino male, you’ll have plenty of experience with discrimination—some blatant, some institutionalized. Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin’s murder at the hands of George Zimmerman is yet another example of society’s fears and misconceptions of our men. What do you tell the men in your life? Don’t wear a hoodie in the streets? Don’t look a certain way? Don’t be yourself?

The case is still developing and everything isn’t out in the open. But one thing is clear: the public won’t stand for it.

Jesus Trivino is Latina Magazine’s Entertainment Editor.

The views in this post do not represent the views of Latina Media Ventures.