Hoodie Out

Joanna Domson, Sentry Staff Reporter

On Thursday, February 5, the Minority Student Achievement Network, or MSAN, sponsored a “Hoodie Out.”  Students swarmed the halls decked in hoodies, with their hoods up, and buttons to support the cause: awareness of racial stereotyping.   It is no coincidence that the event was the same day as the late Trayvon Martin’s birthday.  David Craighead, a senior and the creator of the event, elaborates on his idea.

“I just felt that I needed to do something. So I presented the idea of the Hoodie Out to MSAN and they loved the idea. February 5 would have been Trayvon’s birthday. I wanted the event to be on his birthday rather than the day he died because I think it’s important to remember what would’ve been if not for racial profiling[…] Trayvon was wearing a hoodie the night he died.  I remember seeing the Martin family lawyer wearing a hoodie during an interview and that image sort of just stuck with me.  We wanted the hoodies to mean that the student has identified racial profiling as a problem,” said Craighead.

Craighead worked hard in conjunction with other MSAN leaders to get this event approved by the administration.  There were several bumps along the way, but it proved to be a valuable learning experience and an overwhelming success in the end.

“David wrote a letter to the administration and originally they said we could do it, and then they came back and said we couldn’t.  Then the boys got together and made a petition, and submitted that back to the administration, and then we got approval after that,” said Shari Benites, Minority Achievement Coordinator and MSAN Advisor.

Administration not only voiced concerns about the violation of dress code, but also the message it could send to students and the community about Trayvon Martin’s case.  But the goal of this event was not to take a stance on Martin’s case, but to raise awareness for the prevalence of racial stereotyping in our society, even today.

“I know that there were a few staff members that were concerned that we were somehow making Trayvon Martin into this martyr for racism when he made some bad decisions that ended up in his death, but the point was not really that.  We made it very clear that we were not arguing the legal decisions that have come out of Ferguson or out of Trayvon Martin’s case, it was more of the idea that clearly there is racial tension in this country,” said Benites.

On the same day, MSAN also held a “Speak Out” event during all lunch periods to incite conversation about this delicate topic.  With both the Hoodie Out and the Speak Out, MSAN was working hard to bring the reality of racial stereotyping to the front of students’ and staffs’ minds.  The hoodie out was especially successful.

“I think it went great, because we did not want it to be just an MSAN event, we wanted it to be school wide.  I had 150 of these buttons made up and they were all gone, and there were kids looking for them, so thats at least 150 kids, and staff members too,” said Benites.

Not only did students participate in school, but outside of school as well.  Conversations about racial stereotyping cropped up everywhere, especially on Twitter.

“On Twitter there was a huge discussion about the event and about racial profiling the night before the event. That was great. It was amazing to see people talk about how they see racial profiling as a serious problem and people saying that they have been racially profiled. And that was the point of the Hoodie Out: to start a discussion about the reality and the harmful effects of racial profiling,” said Craighead.

Racial stereotyping and profiling is clearly a problem in society, and MSAN succeeded in bringing awareness to it.  Perhaps the most important thing that they were able to do was start a dialogue about these problems.

“I think that we are not taught how to talk about race, we are kind of taught not to talk about race, so then it becomes very difficult, because we are afraid to offend somebody.  It can be very difficult to have an honest conversation, and so hopefully this was something that could spark some of that,” said Benites.

All of this could not have happened without the hard work of Craighead, his fellow MSAN leaders, Benites, and most importantly, the administration.

“ I would like to thank the administration for letting us do this, because it was a long hard process to get it approved, and they took a little bit of a risk,” said Benites.

That risk certainly paid off.