Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Rochester

What's In a Hoodie?

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Rochester: What's In a Hoodie?
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"My name is Jhatisha. People aren't going to look at my name and just automatically think that I am a college student. They might think that I have kids already," said MCC student Jhatisha Drewery.

Drewery says people's mindsets cause them to be scared or jump to conclusions that are far from being true.

"We have this idea that people are just judgmental against race. It's not about just race; it's about how people sound when they talk, it's about how nice they are. You know what I mean. It's really the mindset," said Drewery.

"What's In a Hoodie" was the topic of a panel discussion at Monroe Community College on Thursday as panelists looked again at the death of Trayvon Martin and the meaning of his hoodie. Martin was a 17-year-old black male wearing a hoodie who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman after an altercation. Zimmerman described Martin as suspicious to police and was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges.

"I think that I could pretty much go anywhere in Rochester wearing a hoodie and not a single person would find me a threat, I really don't. I think that at the heart of the issue is race," said Dr. Natasha Christensen, Monroe Community College.

Police Chief Jim Sheppard agrees with this statement and says although the department receives many phone calls throughout the week about a suspicious person wearing a hoodie, there are other factors that cause that phone call besides their clothing.

"It's very frequent. I mean, the fact of the matter is, there are other factors that may make somebody call us. It could be the time of day, it could be what neighborhood they are in, where are they walking in the hoodie. It's not just the hoodie. It just may be any number of factors contributing to them being suspicious which includes wearing certain clothes," said Sheppard.

But does it actually help to discuss what the hoodie means? Many people at the discussion say it does not and that this piece of clothing is part of a much bigger problem.

"We let the hoodie and every other issue take us away from the race issue so we don't get to the bottom of it and we still are having a discussion about a hoodie. I have on a hoodie. That doesn't stop me from being a math tutor. That doesn't stop me from being a student here," said MCC student Amy Alexander.

"I feel honestly we need to stop talking about what the problem was with the race and the hoodie and the Skittles and think about why people were scared of him. Think about why people were scared of anybody," said Drewery.

But everyone agrees to get to that point we need to talk about what is happening around us.

"Conversation is always the first step," said Christensen.

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