I must admit. I have not lost the momentum that I gained from my attendance at last month’s 43rd Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). The sessions, the information, the people—all inspired me to go back to my community and be that catalyst for needed change.
Where I live, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy what could be described as a late summer. It is only just recently that the days have begun to greet us with the chill that reminds us that it is fall. As the mercury continues to drop, one of my high school friends posted message on Facebook: “its hoodie weather. Be careful.”
My friend’s statement gave me cause for pause. In the neighborhood where we grew up everyone wore hoodies. My mother would tell us to take something with us for our arms just in case we got chilly. More than likely, that something that you took with you to keep the chill off you was a hoodie. We weren’t thugs, criminals, hoodlums, or vagrants. Some of our hoodies displayed our favorite sports team, an activity in which we were involved, or had our name or the name of our boyfriend or girlfriend on the back. Sometimes we wore the hoodie of a loved one just to smell their smell and feel a little closer to them as we “rocked their gear.”
I never thought that I would live to see the day when someone from my neighborhood would have to remind me that wearing an article of clothing—not gang paraphernalia—but an article of clothing, a hoodie, should cause me to exercise caution. Sadly, this is a reality and a testament to the world in which we now live.
I learned much while at the ALC. I met some pretty amazing people while there. Among those, I had the honor to meet Tracy Martin—Trayvon Martin’s father. He was a kind, quiet man, who while being very polite, wore a veil of hurt that I could feel in the depths of my soul. While I cannot not say that I know his specific pain, during the few moments of our brief encounter, his pain became my pain.
As much as attendance at ALC is something that I recommend for all people, Mr. Martin’s attendance is for a cause that is a heavy cross for him and his family to bear. It is a heavy cross that our nation must now bear. Mr. Martin’s attendance is a reminder that even though this country has made some progress in the struggle for equality, equity, and the valuing of human life, particularly the life of a black man, there is still much work to be done. Mr. Martin’s attendance is a reminder that unlike my mother, who sent her children out to play while wearing a hoodie never thought twice about it. I, as a mother, have to consider carefully, warn earnestly, and pray feverishly. Mr. Martin’s attendance is a testament to what my friend warned us about on Facebook. Our discussions have changed. Our mettle has been tested. As for our children, we question if they were ever safe.
The temperature is dropping. The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting colder.
It’s hoodie weather. Be careful.