Geraldo commented about the stupidity of the hoodie and, as usual got his ass handed over to the point of having to apologize. But question not asked was: Is he right or wrong? Answer: Partially right. The issue is not if the Hoodie is fashionable or belongs to a particular racial segment of the population and criticizing it makes you a racist. It is not the garment but the way it is used: If you are planning on obstructing the view of your face, you may end up dealing with some unpleasant consequences. And it is not racism, it is basic human nature, ingrained in our system. Deal with it.
Were visual animals. About 90% of the input we receive from the world comes through our eyes. Are we afraid of the dark itself because we cannot see. Lack of basic information about some place, some event or somebody put us at unease. The most basic information about a person is what it is reflected in his face so, if you cover it, disguise it or make it hard for somebody else to see it, expect the proper amount of weariness and even aggression.
Our interaction with others is heavily dependent on that visual input and the first thing every human will focus is the face. Humans have seven universally recognizable expressions (fear, anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness, and sadness) that are the basis of such initial interactions and we will react accordingly. If we somebody displaying fear, we will automatically try to search for whatever is causing that fear. A happy face makes you want to share in that happiness and so on.
But when there is no input available such as wearing a mask, a bandana or a hoodie covering most of the face, our lizard brain immediately triggers the alarms: Somebody does not want to be read and we will assume bad intentions. If you cover your face, be ready for people to react by Freeze-Fight-Fright-Flight. This is deeply ingrained in our basic response system and can be modified with a lot of difficulty and only to be changed to another basic response: instead of freezing to danger one can change to fleeing or fighting it. If we cannot read your face, you are an unknown quantity and by our own nature and we fear the unknown.
Covering the face is inedible associated with both avoidance of recognition and the attempt to inspire fear. A criminal does not want to be recognized by those who might know him or that might testify against them in the future. Ancient warriors would wear masks with fearful depictions to scare the enemy and hide their own emotions about going into battle. Armed robbers of old and present know the impact of a faceless & threatening individual in controlling their victims. Shall we forget the fear that the faceless Knights of the Ku Klux Klan created on black folks as they appeared in the middle of the night with their own particular brand of hoodies? Even SWAT and other special teams recognize that doing a dynamic entry while wearing balaclavas do wonders in giving them extra moments of paralyzing shock that can be used to end a hostage situation in their favor. Even a male with a heavy beard triggers a bit of suspicion on people. If you do not believe me, try and find out how many U.S. Presidents had a beard. And Abraham Lincoln does not count as he campaigned fully shaved.
Most all cultures if not all, meet strangers the same fashion: open and visible face and hands free of any objects that might be deemed a weapon. When we meet somebody in our western culture, we look straight at their faces and shake hands. We are transmitting a message that says “Here, see my face. I bid you no ill will. I give you my hand without a weapon as proof of my good intentions.” If you do not believe me, remember the times you have been introduced to somebody and promptly uncovered your face if needed and dropped whatever was on your dominant hand to make that initial contact. Back in medieval times, when two knights meet on the road for the first time, they would rise the visors and the right hand would go up, palm facing front in show of truce. A knight who failed to do would be considered an enemy and end up being rapidly challenged.
Although we “know” that this picture is the Miami Heat team being supportive about the killing of Trayvon Martin, what they are sending is absolutely the wrong signals: faces covered or mostly covered & hands hidden. If you were walking down a steer and came to a group of unknown individuals like that, your alarm bells would go off and if you are smart, would take appropriate measure such as changing sides or reversing your course. And don’t BS anybody saying the opposite unless you are Rambo-Wannabe seeking trouble, trying to be Politically Correct and demonstrating you “care” now or plain stupid… but I repeat myself.
How ingrained is our distaste for covered faces? Seek no further than the recent marches and demonstration about the Trayvon Killing. Wearing a hoodie was supposed to be a symbol, but I found interesting how many people were wearing it.
Even wearing hoodies, people chose to display their face clearly. I doubt that this was done on purpose but rather instinctively: They have nothing to hide or pretend. This last photo is even more revealing. Red circles denote those with covered or hard to see faces while wearing a hoodie. Yellow circles the opposite.
The majority of those present chose to have their faces open and on display signifying that they had nothing to hide. On purpose? I am betting by instinct. Those who chose to hide their faces, you may want to ask them if they did it just because it is the cool (yet stupid) thing to do or other factors were in play.
And if you need another reason not to wear the hood like a head sock of ample proportions, just a reminder that peripheral vision comes in handy and if you are stupid enough to block it, then do not bitch when you don’t see it coming.