The Crimes of Hoodies, Short Skirts and Fannie Mae
“More guns, fewer hoodies” and we’d all be safer, Gail Collins advised in a New York Times piece after Trayvon Martin was gunned down for “eating skittles while black” – and while wearing said hoodie – in a gated community. A clear threat that had to be stopped.
That’s right. Guns don’t kill people, hoodies do: Trayvon Martin’s “hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did,” claimed Geraldo Rivera (who later apologized).
Sounds familiar. When women are raped short skirts become the culprit.
Yet few rape victims are wearing short skirts. And even nicely dressed black men can create fear. Journalist Brent Staples noticed that people got out of his way when he nonchalantly walked about. Amazed at his ability to alter public space, he tried humming Mozart to project his innocence. Seemed to help.
But why aren’t pricey cars, fancy suits and expensive watches blamed when rich, white men get robbed? What thief could resist?
Why? Because making more powerless members of society the culprit is meant to distract from the sins of the powerful. It’s women’s fault if men rape them, and it’s black men’s fault if lighter men kill them.
In another example, some blamed liberals for foolishly using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help Blacks and Hispanics “buy homes they couldn’t afford,” leading to the banking crises that nearly drove the U.S. economy off a cliff.
What really happened is that rich bankers gave rich campaign contributions to government officials, who in gratitude disposed of pesky regulations. That helped bankers get mega-rich by devising complex financial packages that no one could comprehend.
Used to be that when someone bought a home bankers made sure they’d get paid back. But under deregulation it didn’t matter because the loan was sold to someone else. And that investor sold the loan again. And financial packages were created and sold, composed of fractions of many people’s mortgage loans. They were rated AAA since they were 1) diversified – and hence, “safe” investments and 2) the housing market never goes down. (Yeah, right!)
Fannie and Freddie entered the process late, thinking they’d better join in or lose out.
When the housing market dropped and people couldn’t afford their homes, or sell them for a profit, the banks began collapsing. Lucky for them, the taxpayers bailed them out (or the whole economy likely would have collapsed).
Did deregulation get blamed for the fiasco? By some. But plenty of the “powers that be” — and especially “hate radio” — blamed Blacks and Latinos.
Because blaming more powerless members of society distracts from the sins of the powerful.
The crime does not lie with the man who pulls the trigger, nor with the man who rapes, and certainly not with the fat cat who pays to rig the game. No, the crime lies with those who wear hoodies, short skirts and who bank while black or brown.
Posted on April 11, 2012, in feminism, gender, politics/class inequality, psychology, race/ethnicity, rape and sexual assault, sexism, women and tagged culture, feminism, gender, psychology, race, racism, rape and sexual assault, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.