Is Looking “Black” a Crime?
“It’s not impossible to imagine a time when the mere act of being outside while Black is punishable by law,” writes Stacey Patton for Dame Magazine.
If you’re Black, you are risking life and liberty if you wear your hair the way it naturally grows out from your scalp. Or if you sag your pants. Or if you wear a hoodie. Any one of these “crimes” has been cited as a viable reason to punish a person by kicking her out of school. Fire him from his job. Even lock him up. If that person is Black.
It’s not impossible to imagine a time when the mere act of being outside while Black is punishable by law.
You think I’m being dramatic? Senator Don Barrington, a Republican in Oklahoma, wants to make wearing hoodies illegal in a state that already has a near-century-old law banning hoods and masks drafted in the 1920s to help combat crimes from the KKK. Oklahoma is not the first to propose such a law, and it will likely not be the last. Ten states, including California, Florida, Washington D.C., and New York, have anti-hoodie laws, and nationwide, some schools, stores and business establishments prohibit the ubiquitous garments on their premises, which they claim is a way to help deter crime by preventing people from masking their identities.
But let’s face it: This law is not targeting the hoodie-loving Mark Zuckermans and Justin Timberlakes and Biebers of the world. This is a thinly veiled attempt to criminalize and control Black communities for profit, just the latest in a long history of policing Black bodies that is rooted in slavery and its aftermath. Because if we really wanted to combat crime, we wouldn’t be wasting our time with something so trite as issuing fashion citations. We’d tighten our lax gun-control laws.
Read more at Dame Magazine.