Hoodie History 101: Bun B Speaks On The Death Of Trayvon Martin

twitterrally bunb trae march30.jpg
Photos via Bun B on Twitter
Bun B and Trae tha Truth (center) at a local rally for Trayvon Martin
When Rocks Off researched our hoodie history, we found its roots and its perceptions to be as complex and racially charged as the death of Trayvon Martin. The hoodie, of course, has become the visual rallying cry for Martin's supporters on Twitter and Facebook profile pages nationwide.

While the hoodie may forever be redefined in the U.S. after the events in Sanford, Fla., last month, negative belief systems about hoodies and hip-hop are no doubt prevalent beyond our borders.

In a May 12, 2005 article in British newspaper The Guardian about a shopping center in the United Kingdom that chose to ban hoodies, Angela McRobbie, a professor of communications at Goldsmiths College, was quoted as saying:

"The point of origin is obviously black American hip-hop culture, now thoroughly mainstream and a key part of the global economy. Rap culture celebrates defiance, as it narrates the experience of social exclusion.

Musically and stylistically, it projects menace and danger as well as anger and rage. The hooded top is one in a long line of garments chosen by young people, usually boys, to which are ascribed meanings suggesting that they are 'up to no good.'"

Simplify McRobbie's quotes to common-speak and you've probably transcribed what many assume to be of George Zimmerman's inner dialogue the day he shot Martin. Indeed, McRobbie has a right to her own opinion and professional analysis, which are all very debatable, but she's definitely wrong about the point of origin.

The hoodie's origin can actually be traced to the formal wear of monks back in medieval Europe. In the 1930s, they were marketed to laborers working in freezing temperatures in upstate New York.

And it wasn't until the '70s when hip-hop was born in the Bronx and began to influence fashion that hoodies started to become more popular. It all took off from there, but one could argue Rocky's sprint up the 72 stone steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art popularized the hoodie as much as hip-hop.

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The image of Trayvon Martin that inspired the hoodie photo phenomenon.
Regardless of how you feel, the garment really belongs to more than just hip-hop. As many point out, the hoodie is affiliated with academic spirit.

Designers Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren used hoodies as important parts of their fashion collections in the '90s. So the debate over the hoodie's origins and those responsible for its popularity are really a jump ball.

However, one consistency in parts of the world where hoodie debate has occured is that the garment has faced an uphill battle. All over the planet from New Zealand, to the UK to the U.S., hoodies have divided people and conquered political dialogue long before the death of Trayvon Martin.

"Hoodie is something we see all over America and all over the world," said Houston music icon and hip-hop legend Bun B in an MTV hip-hop tribute to the death of Trayvon Martin. "But people are starting to identify this culture of people by their clothing and are starting to attribute certain things based on the way they dress and that's simply not fair."

Rocks Off interviewed Bun B, who has been a center figure at local rallies for Trayvon Martin, and he expressed his opinions to us on Geraldo Rivera, justice versus revenge, and hip-hop's responsibility in the Trayvon Martin controversy.


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10 comments
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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN  is in Texas, Dallas.  Black parents, watch your kids. 

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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN  is in Texas, Dallas.  Black parents, watch your kids. 

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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN  is in Texas, Dallas.  Black parents, watch your kids. 

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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN  is in Texas, Dallas.  Black parents, watch your kids. 

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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN  is in Texas, Dallas.  Black parents, watch your kids. 

Tumbler_the_Government_Man
Tumbler_the_Government_Man

Urban violence occurs hourly. Why this? Why Fluke? It's all so phoney. Ludwig Von Mises - the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots.

Geezy
Geezy

"But people are starting to identify this culture of people by their clothing and are starting to attribute certain things based on the way they dress and that's simply not fair."Good quote here. Personally when in the gym I prefer to work out in a hoodie, aways have- I played sports all through high school and part of college so it's almost second nature for me to pack one in a gym bag. 

While jumping rope Wednesday between sets someone actually stopped and asked me "so you are supporting this whole Martin hoodie thing I see huh? You should be embarrassed."   

I had to kindly tell him "No, I am working out and this is a sweatshirt. Is that such a foreign thing for you to understand?"

It amazes me that people are so consumed with politics in their daily lives that it distorts their perception. And sadly, things are only going to get worse. 

MarcoFromHouston
MarcoFromHouston

Nice work, Rolando. Great insight, as always by Mr. Bun B.

Anse
Anse

What does the welfare state have to do with this?

Christina Lynn Hildebrand
Christina Lynn Hildebrand

This reminds me of a teacher or a few teachers in highschool that would judge me based on my appearance. I wore lots of jewelry, buttons (Blondie - the band, some from the hard rock cafe in Nashville, a few of the simpsons, some with sarcastic remarks, and one of gonzo from the muppets as axl rose), and a hoodie I had bought from the school. 

What that teacher did was stereotype me as some sort of troublemaker when I was anything but a troublemaker: I was a christian and still am (I even went on mission trips to places like Nashville and Tegucigalpa Honduras!) - the school was a private religious school, never took drugs or drank, etc. What she did was stereotype me.

Now rewind about 35 years or so ago: my father was big into motorcycles. Stll is. He's a houston native and frequently back then bikers would get pulled over because law enforcement saw them as nothing but trouble. However, my father has never really committed any crime except for maybe speeding. But all they would see back then is "long hair+ biker (aka dangerous and not like us)=troublemaker."

It is wrong to stereotype others. It demonizes otherwise good citizens. Now with Trayvon, thats what happened. Just because he looked a certain way he was demonized by an overzealous neighborhood crime watch guy and ultimately, it ended his life in a tragic way. 

Great article and good thoughts by Bun B!

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