Hoodies: the sweatshirts that admin despises and students desire. What is it about hoodies that made this piece of clothing viewed as dangerous or sketchy? Many schools throughout the U.S. have banned hoodies for safety issues since the hood itself can be used to cover one’s face, potentially causing great problems in trying to identify if someone belongs in the school or not.
“It’s more of a safety issue since it’s such a big building,” said 10th grade administration Dr. Alicea. “There are only eight administrators and eight security guards, so if we see someone out of uniform, we address it immediately like ‘Hey do you belong here?’”
Parkdale administration becoming more strict about the hoodies and IDs may be seen as unnecessary or overprotective to some students, but it helps with the safety of school to prevent any accidents.
However, many Parkdale students feel as though the ban on these types of sweatshirts are rooted deeper in just safety.
“I do believe racial profiling plays a part because in schools where it is predominantly white, often times the rules aren’t enforced,” said junior Precious Agary. “But in schools that host minorities as the majority, there always seems to be a rule against hoodies and them being worn.”
Many students in Parkdale feel that because of their skin color, schools try to enforce uniforms instead of letting them wear clothing, like hoodies, that are associated with malignant behavior. Although students feel this way, Parkdale assured that it isn’t a profiling issue.
“It’s far away from being an ethnic situation or trying to discriminate or label somebody,” said Dr. Alicea. “It’s sad people think certain outfits or clothes or fashion belongs to particular people.”
Parkdale and PGCPS are not the only schools and districts who have put a ban on hoodies. While the number of schools in the country who have dress code rules against hoodies is unknown, students from California to Chicago to districts in Connecticut (and even in the UK) have been speaking out against the ban enacted by their school systems.
This bad outlook in hoodies isn’t just impacting students, but also communities. Hoodies have been a part of everyday life, particularly in minority communities, for decades.
In the 1990s when rap started to rise in popularity, so did hoodies.. In many music videos like “I got 5 on it” by LUNIZ, “Dear Mama” by Tupac, and “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G, people can be seen wearing hoodies and doing rebellious activities like partying and smoking. In one video in particular, someone is jumping another guy while wearing a hoodie.
While rap videos and culture do correlate closely with the Parkdale community, is it fair to let stereotypes of criminals shape how students are viewed because of clothing?
“Constantly they showcase people wearing hoodies when they are about to commit a crime in the media,” said Agary. “That [then] became the case in real life more so when you see mugshots and the felons are wearing a cap or a hoodie.”
Exposure to urban neighborhoods and the culture they posses through the media–both musically and on the news–started the paranoia that if you were a person of color while wearing hoodie, you were immediately up to no good or even seen as a criminal. This racial profiling made it dangerous for many people of color to go out without being accused of criminal activities.
Racial profiling took a turn in Sanford, Fl. on February 26, 2011 when George Zimmerman called 911 saying that a suspicious person who was wearing a dark hoodie was around his neighborhood. In reality, it was 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was unarmed, non-threatening and visiting his relatives. After following Martin for looking suspicious–an action that 9-11 operators ordered Zimmerman not to do–Zimmerman shot and killed Martin after a scuffle. This case started the Black Lives Matter movement in raising awareness on how the black community is targeted and treated unjustly due to their skin color, and in this case in particular, their choice of clothing.
“In the case of Trayvon Martin, I personally feel like his case was horrible either way because despite him looking ‘suspicious’ with a hoodie on,” said Agary. “Trayvon’s life was taken away mercilessly and I believe despite him wearing a hoodie or not, how [Zimmerman] went about profiling him would have remained the same.”
Many factors can affect the way someone sees a piece of clothing. In this case, wearing a hoodie can make someone seem as a delinquent when in reality all they are is a person wearing a piece of clothing for either warmth or fashion, the reasoning behind most students who elect to wear hoodies to school.
“How a piece of clothing creates a dangerous environment, I am unsure,” said Agary.
Reporter Zenaida Vasquez investigated and reported on hoodies in November 2017. To take a look at how opinions on this issue have (or have not) changed since then, click here.