Before we go any further, we should note that this radio host was not Rush Limbaugh. Indeed, I was surprised as well, but these words came from Sirius XM radio personality Dan Graca. Graca said some pretty inflammatory things on his show yesterday, including a “guarantee” that Trayvon Martin would be alive if not for his hoodie, and that he can’t figure out the message behind the Heat posing in support of Trayvon.
Graca discusses this issue on two fronts: the increasingly popular idea that Martin was asking for it by wearing a very common piece of clothing, as well as the athlete reaction to the tragedy — mainly, the picture of the Miami Heat wearing hoodies and standing in solidarity with the slain teen.
Listen to the comments:
Piggybacking on the greatly misinformed Geraldo Rivera, Graca starts in by disagreeing with the Fox News pundit, but then adds these thoughts:
“I guarantee you one thing, is that, if Trayvon Martin that night was not wearing a hoodie, I bet you dollars to donuts he’s still alive today, okay? Because no hoodie means no warrant for suspicion.”
“It makes you look like some type of badass. That’s all well and good, but is it really worth it?”
Pundits like Graca are looking for an easy explanation of why somebody would go and shoot a black person for no reason. But the hoodie, which they perceive as a symbol of hip hop culture, is anything but a “suspicious” garment. Even cursory research of the hoodie tells you that it dates back to Medieval Europe, gained great popularity because of the Rocky movies, and was a major part of the fashion collections of Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren. Can you think of anybody less “badass” than Armani?
But Graca isn’t done there. He goes on to attack the Miami Heat for their show of support, calling their picture a “publicity stunt.”
“And by posing in these hoodies, they’re making it a black-white issue, instead of supporting the family, or — calling for justice.”
“What they’re doing is not going to bring the victim back alive.”
Let’s throw out the bit about “not calling for justice,” since that’s exactly what the photo is doing. How posing in a bunch of hoodies makes this a “black-white issue” illustrates that people like Graca continue to see the hoodie as a “black” garment. And his ridiculous claims that this will not bring Trayvon back is clearly true — of course it won’t. But else can we do? If we had to stop everything that didn’t bring Trayvon back, we would all sit in silence as more innocent people were killed.
Graca’s most damning line, to himself and to his argument (besides asking why Mike Miller, a white player, wasn’t in the picture before acknowledging that Miller wasn’t even with the team that day), is when he says that the Heat are saying “Look at me, I’m a celebrity, and I need some attention.” If these athletes did not speak out, we would want them held accountable. With great power comes great responsibility, and players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire and others should be commended for trying to bring attention to this devastating tragedy. To call it a publicity stunt is ignoring the fact that, as Graca himself said, people are just learning of this story now. If anything, it needs more publicity.
So, in a way, thank you Dan Graca, for your little publicity stunt in attacking Trayvon’s fashion sense and the Miami Heat for their show of support. The more said about this story, the better, so perhaps people like George Zimmerman will think twice about chasing down an unarmed teen, whose only crime was being himself.
[h/t reader Tom, photo from Flickr]