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On February 26th, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while walking back to a house he was visiting with his father from a convenience store. His death has gotten big publicity for several reasons: it is viewed as a hate crime, it was a devastatingly sad murder against a teenager, and there have been no consequences put on the man who killed him.
Trayvon Martin was a young black man and was wearing a hoodie the night he was killed. Zimmerman, the man who killed him, was supposedly suspicious of him and cited the hoodie as the reason.
 I own six different hoodies in different colors, two are black. One I wear more than the others. My son, who is a toddler, owns two hoodies. Even my parents who are in their 60’s wear hoodies. And teenagers- what teenager in America doesn’t own a hoodie? Old Navy has been pumping up hoodie advertising for several years, growing their popularity.

On line, they say:
“Old Navy hoodies can be worn for layering or alone to create versatile appeal. Hoodies provide warmth and are great for all ages. We carry hoodies in many different fabrics from fleece to velour to cotton. Decorative lines and graphics add interest to an ordinary hoody. Hoodies in short sleeves and long sleeves for men, women and children allow for year round wear.

So, if I wear my hoodie outside, will I be shot? That wasn’t in the ad.

The million hoodie march that took place last week in New York made that exact point. Wearing a hoodie doesn’t make you suspicious. In fact, people all over the country wore hoodies last week in support of Trayvon. Pictures of people in hoodies were posted on facebook. Even yesterday, people wore hoodies to church and were still marching in various regions of the country.

Chances are, I won’t be shot if I wear a hoodie or if I wear a hoodie and I’m shot, it probably won’t be blamed on the hoodie. Why? Because I’m white.

But Zimmerman isn’t a racist, we have been told.

I’m not sure why Zimmerman was wandering around with a gun pursuing teenagers, or anyone for that matter. That’s terrifying. When people are in the society and cannot control themselves from acting violently, they need to be locked up. Now he has a lot of attention on him, so he’s not hurting anyone, but when no one’s looking- who might he kill next?

And why wasn’t he charged? Still he hasn’t been charged.

Last week, right in the middle of Stop Street Harassment Week, a lot of attention was brought to the Trayvon Martin case and people were really speaking up about it and organizing through social media outlets. Perfect timing because essentially, that’s what it was. Street harassment that ended in a hate crime.

A lot of street harassment is perpetrated by men toward women and is often of a sexual nature, but men can also be victims. Trayvon Martin is a perfect example of this.

So- how does street harassment translate to Trayvon’s case? First- not all street harassment is of a sexual nature. If it is of a sexual nature, it’s not about sex. When sexual comments are made to someone in a sexually objectifying way, that is verbal violence. Unwanted sexual advancements are a form of violence. They are not about sex, they are about power and control. Street harassment may be sexually objectifying comments and comments of any kind meant to intimidate, gropes, sexual and physical assault, rape, or murder. In Trayvon Martin’s case, it was street harassment that ended in Zimmerman pursuing Trayvon and killing him.

We live under a system of Patriarchy that demands men be over everyone. Well, what about other men?

Patriarchy demands men be over other men and Trayvon’s age was a factor. Younger people and those considered weaker are to be dominated in the system of Patriarchy. Trayvon wasn’t even an adult yet, so he was an easier target for Zimmerman to prey on. Patriarchy demands the strongest survive and in this case, the stronger man is going to be older and the one waiting in the shadows with the gun.

Trayvon was a young man, he was only 17 and to look at his pictures and see his young eyes and smile, makes my heart hurt. I can see the eyes of my son in his eyes because they are innocent still. It hurts to think of this happening to my son. It hurts to think of this happening to anyone’s son. It hurts to think about what happened to Trayvon because he had so much life to live and someone took that away.

The push for justice is about making the hatred stop, assuring that this doesn’t happen again and to say, ‘hey, you can’t just get away with lynching black teens because you say they look like crooks because they are wearing hoodies.’

If the hoodie was really the issue, there would be law suits against Old Navy, Hollister, Gap, Aeropostale, Walmart, Target, and any number of other stores that sell hoodies.

Patriarchy says men must protect their women and children, meaning their kind. What other excuse did Zimmerman have to be outside looking for people to shoot? African American men have been criminalized in the media and the highest number of men in jail are African American, often because they are targeted. Racial profiling goes both directions, both against African American men. Race based stereotypes say white men are innocent and African American men are guilty or suspicious.

“While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.”

So if we give Zimmerman some innocence in the situation, we can assume that he was not necessarily targeting Trayvon and he was afraid because of built up stereotypes of black men and his underlying beliefs about black men being criminals because of how they have been targeted by law enforcement and the prison system. But there are other factors involved.

The arguement is: Zimmerman was a man of color too. Yes, but he isn’t black and stereotypes are still alive and well. Just because you are a person of color doesn’t mean you are not racist against other people of color. Zimmerman also has a history of being violent- he was arrested in 2005 for battery of a police officer and for resisting arrest violently. There is absolutely no reason that this shouldn’t be investigated further.

And- Why was anyone but an official police officer patrolling an area with a weapon?

No one wants to walk out of their house and see random men with guns supposedly trying to protect them. Who then is to protect you from them?

Why did Zimmerman pursue Trayvon?

I’m not sure what happened, but from the media coverage, it sounds like Zimmerman targeted Trayvon, called 911 to have an alibi to say he was acting in self defense and then shot him. Trayvon might have tried to fight back for a moment, but had no chance against a man stalking him and preying on him with a gun. It sounds like there was no altercation, Trayvon was just shot. If Zimmerman was really afraid of this “suspicious” character, why did he pursue him?

Everyone can say the system is racist. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, because of racism, people can blow it off and say it was a black kid and he doesn’t matter or black kids always get themselves shot, but blowing it off doesn’t dismiss the fact that a teenage boy was walking outside at night and was murdered for no reason and the man who did it is still free and not being investigated.

When a person is walking home from the store they do not get shot.
When a person is unable to control themselves from being violent, they are locked up.
Something isn’t right.

Grrl Code: Trayvon Martin is a victim of street harassment and a hate crime. This violence is encouraged by the very structure of the system of Patriarchy. See the many ways Patriarchy is devastating to everyone, not just women.