What Does Mayor Nutter Think About Hoodies Now?

It's not just Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera who aren't fans.

Lots of talk about hoodies lately. People have been sporting theirs in “Million Hoodie Marches” around the country to voice their outrage over of the killing of Trayvon Martin, who was, of course, “suspiciously” wearing a hoodie when George Zimmerman shot him.

Some folks wore hoodies to normally hoodie-free churches on Sunday in a display of hoodie solidarity. Pastors showed off their hoodies at the pulpit. Many Trayvon supporters have taken photos of themselves in hoodies and posted them on Facebook or transmitted them via Twitter. (I am guilty of the former, though the discussion on my page became not about Trayvon Martin but about how cool my hoodie was.)

Barack Obama didn’t wear a hoodie (though people certainly Photoshopped him into one) but did come out in support of Trayvon and the hoodie-wearing masses (get an authentic Barack Obama 2012 hoodie here!). And naturally, you can buy a Trayvon Martin HD Vector Hoodie for about $40 online. No doubt Walmart will report record hoodie sales for the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the more liberal side of the media, for whom Martin’s death has been a veritable ratings boom, pretty much had an aneurysm when a hoodie-less Geraldo Rivera went on Bill O’Reilly and declared, “I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters par-tic-u-lar-ly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies … I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.”

Clearly, Geraldo Rivera is not just an idiot (remember the Al Capone vault?) but also a racist. After all, he’s got that black people-hating Puerto Rican blood in him and is half-Hispanic himself, just like villain-of-the-month George Zimmerman. (Has anyone made an anti-Geraldo hoodie yet? #milliondollaridea).

But wait!

It was only eight months ago when Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter—a bona fide African American—took the pulpit at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia and waged his own war on hoodies. Back in August, in the midst of an epidemic of violence in the city’s streets, Nutter gave his rousing “You’ve Damaged Your Own Race” speech worthy in rhetoric of a circa-2008 Obama speechwriting team and calling for an end to not just murder but also to the dangerous clothing item in question. Yes, the hoodie!

Here’s what Nutter had to say (emphasis added) to lots of cheers and amens:

“And so to all of our young people, but a particular message to our young African-American boys and girls, let me say this: If you want all of us—black, white, or any other color—if you want us to respect you, if you want us to look at you in a different way, if you want us not to be afraid to walk down the same side of the street with you, if you want folks not to jump out of the elevator when you get on, if you want folks to stop following you around in stores when you’re out shopping, if you want somebody to offer you a job or an internship somewhere, if you don’t want folks to be looking in or trying to go in a different direction when they see two or 20 of you coming down the street, then stop acting like idiots and fools, out in the streets of the city of Philadelphia. Just cut it out. And another thing. Take those doggone hoodies down, especially in the summer.”

This morning, I reached out to Nutter press secretary Mark McDonald to see what the Mayor has to say about hoodies in light of the Trayvon Martin case.

“I think the mayor is focused less on couture than on the number of young African American males killing African American males,” says McDonald. “If people with white hoods on came into town, and we saw the kind of carnage we have seen, people would be up in arms. But, in fact, under this hood is another African American male. The Mayor’s focus is not on apparel. I think the apparel has been a useful symbol to be sure. He understands the role of symbolism and the energizing side of the hoodie in the Trayvon tragedy. But the message last year was straighten up and fly straight. Young men, c’mon, let’s think about your future and not the next 10 minutes. Let’s not be destroying a large part of a generation of African American men, a population within which—if properly educated and trained—could be the next Steve Jobs or Einstein.”