Clothing / Races in America

“In a cardigan or a crew neck, this model is just another model. In the hoodie, he is a folk demon and a scapegoat, a political symbol and a moving target…”

In a cardigan or a crew neck, this model is just another model. In the hoodie, he is a folk demon and a scapegoat, a political symbol and a moving target, and the system of signs that weighs this upon him does not make special distinctions for an Italian cashmere hoodie timelessly designed in heather gray.

Watching Beyoncé’s recent video for Formation”, with its set piece showing a black child in a hooded sweatshirt disarming a rank of riot police with his dance moves, most Americans grasped the outfit as a rhetorical device serving a dreamlike declaration about protest and civil rights. During the N.F.L. playoffs, football fans saw the quarterback Cam Newton, the locus of a running dialogue about blackness, wear hoodies to interviews, and they read tweets that called him a “thug” for it. The boxing movie “Creed”, — starring Michael B. Jordan opposite Sylvester Stallone, who made the hoodie a fixture in “Rocky” (1976) — features rousing scenes of Jordan jogging across Philadelphia in a gray hoodie. The transfer of the garment from the old white champ to the young black contender plays as an echo of the film’s broader racial politics.

Troy Patterson, “On Clothing”, The New York Times Magazine (6 March 2016), 16.