“What does it feel like to be a problem?” -W.E.B Dubois

Front page of Daily News Post Zimmerman Verdict

Front page of Daily News Post Zimmerman Verdict

On Monday, the Daily News front page listed names of young black men who were killed by men unjustly acquitted by the legal system. This image of the empty hoody has been a symbol of black male criminality; an object of fear and suspension. At protest in NYC, LA and other urban centers supporters of Martin donned “the hoodie” as a way to show solidarity. In many schools, especially charter and some public school with dress codes, students are banned from wearing hoods. I recall the prep school I attended also disallowing this particular article of clothing. Thus when I went to college, the hoodie became my new uniform. I was never aware of how I was perceived. Discrimination was always a part of my experience moving through some unfriendly territories, but I just assumed that some folks just had a problem with “otherness.” As an african american female, I was never pulled over or harassed by the police. I was however greeted with suspicion in clothing stores and sometimes walking off campus in Northampton, MA. So I can’t say I can fully understand the intricacies of their pain as eloquently expressed by Questlove. But I weep for them. I know what it feels like to be treated like a “problem,” but not a criminal.


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