HOOLIGANS, HOODIES & HOODS

Yesterdays excerpt at Tor.com was a “Youth-a-Phobic” timeline documenting the mental condition some adults suffer from called ephebiphobia. Never heard of it? Ephebiphobia is defined as “fear or loathing of the young” and the timeline highlights over 6000 years of it (give or take a century). Today, BAD FOR YOU brings the hooligan/hoods/hoodie connection referred to in the excerpt up to date.

ROBBIN’ HOODS?

It all started with kids in the 12th century: English apprentice boys, away from home, would regularly riot (hey, they were unsupervised).  When they did, they often wore hoods to “hide their identities” from authorities. Hoods as disguises were common; many states in the U.S. still have prohibitions against them. Currently on the Georgia books: A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he wears a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property.

YOUTH IN HOODS = YOUTHFUL HOODS?

The first known use of the word hoodlum to refer specifically to “a young ruffian” was in 1871 (from the German dialect hudelum – “disorderly”). The related term, hooligans, was first applied to gangs of kids in 1898; their “disorderly behavior” was dubbed “organized terrorism in the streets” by the London Times. “Some people began to associate the hooded sweatshirt with hoodlums in the 1970s as graffiti artists and criminal gang members used them to hide their identities,” according to Slate.com.

HOO-DONE-IT?

Of course, the association most people make today with hoodies has to do with the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Martin wasn’t doing anything wrong at the time of the shooting; he was hunted down for being perceived as a criminal – rather than actually being one. One of the things leading to this perception was that Martin was wearing a hoodie that night (also…just maybe, because he was black). When an investigation into the murder determined it was in self-defense, protests against the decision eventually lead to a “million hoodie march” in New York’s Union Square to advocate for the prosecution of George Zimmerman, the man who killed the teenager who he thought looked suspicious. From a symbol of violent youth, the hoodie evolved into a symbol of youth killed violently – for the “crime” of looking scary to an adult.

A crime that, as yesterday’s excerpt shows, kids have been committing for thousands of years.

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