When unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was fatally shot in Florida by paranoid neighborhood-watch vigilante George Zimmerman in February, the usual flurry of American media debate ensued. One of the more heated tangents came when celebrity newscaster Geraldo Rivera stated — on Fox News, naturally — that Martin’s death could be partly blamed on the “hoodie” he was wearing. While stressing that Martin didn’t deserve to be shot, Rivera insisted that “every time you see someone stick up a 7-Eleven, the kid is wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangster … Well, people are gonna perceive you as a menace.”

“Wicked!” would no doubt be the reply of the mindless teen gangsta-wannabes in “Attack the Block,” a British comedy-horror set on a “Sarf” London council estate where the hoodie (hooded sweatshirt pulled low over the face) has as nasty a connotation as it does in the States. Despite the garment’s roots in hip-hop and jock culture, the 2011 London riots surely cemented the widespread belief that “hoodie” equals “villain.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.