David Thompson
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April 09, 2008

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Paul

Tom Paine: "Any mental images I had formed when I heard the word had involved the sort of pizza-faced yob who constitutes the main threat when walking the streets of my home town."

Exactly. It's amazing how wrong one person can be - I also think exclusively of white kids when the word 'hoody' is mentioned. But maybe that's because my son is white and wears one. Or because the gang of hoody-clad kids who hang out at our local shops are all white. Hey, but maybe all this makes me a racist though. Damn.

David

It’s fascinating, watching people trying to see just about everything through their received race-class-gender prism. I’m told some shops have, or have had, a “no hoodies” policy on the basis that they’ve been used to hide a person’s identity – i.e. while shoplifting. I’m guessing Ms Williams thinks that’s actually “sleight-of-hand” for a “no coloureds” policy.

One devout Guardian reader offers this:

“Most of these terms have at the very least classist connotations, as essentially most people see the world in shades of rich and poor… For all who use the term it means ‘people who are not like me’ and is a product of fear and superiority. It’s as bad as ‘chav’. If you don’t like poor people then say, don’t hide behind this ridiculous barrage of euphemisms. Poor is the new gay. Maybe there needs to be a poor pride march. Given the way the world is going I suspect that may soon be a well attended march indeed.”

A debate ensues about the class politics of casual fashion. It’s dizzying stuff.

dicentra

Thus it has always been with human society: a particular virtue becomes popular, then everyone falls over themselves to master the virtue. Or rather, I should say, to be *perceived* as possessing more of said virtue than one's neighbor.

I have no doubt that the legendary Victorian matrons who scrupulously covered the legs of their tables were not actually horrified by the tables' immodesty but rather were eager to show their friends how much *more* chaste they were than the crowd.

Such vain creatures we humans are.

steveaz

"Thus it has always been with human society: a particular virtue becomes popular, then everyone falls over themselves to master the virtue. Or rather, I should say, to be *perceived* as possessing more of said virtue than one's neighbor."

Di, I think the problem with Williams' piece is, she comes off as a bit too solicitous of the "hoodies" criminal traits.

To me, Williams' concerned essay reminds me of a length of course marine-lashing: it's 20 feet of furry hemp-rope reaching to tie the flotsam left bobbing behind another, urbane clothing/crime-trend to "Racism's" political dock.

Labor's friends are casting a really wide net this year!

KB Player

The word "hoodie" conveys to me a kind of crow that lives in the north and west of Scotland.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/h/hoodedcrow/index.asp

Of course it is part black, part grey. . .

David

If you squint and bear down really, really hard, I’m sure you’ll see just how racist ornithology is.

Lovernios

I don't like "poor" people. In fact, I can't stand them. They're rude, crude, crass, vulgar, ignorant, arrogant, selfish, aggressive, cowardly and lazy. I know this because I grew up in a "poor", dysfunctional, urban family who displayed all of the above characteristics guaranteed to doom each succeeding genration to failure, misery and poverty. All of our neighbors shared this mentality. It ain't pretty. And on top of it all, their sense of fashion....

David

As someone with humble origins in a rough part of town, I can relate. And this, I suppose, is the thing. The typical Guardianista tends to have much more elevated origins and, perhaps because of this, a heightened sensitivity to perceived class issues. In order for well-heeled Guardianistas to follow their “class struggle” formulation - while deflecting attention away from their *own* comfortable place in the social hierarchy - conspicuous sympathy has to be expressed for the lumpen and unwashed. (Cue Polly Toynbee’s overwrought hostility to private education, high salaries, etc. “Privilege must be stopped!” she squeals. After all, privilege, high salaries, second homes and private education have brought nothing but dissonance and embarrassment to dear Polly and her family.)

Hoodie

Typical white people.

lioness

More racism detected! http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/tobyharnden/april08/monkeyracist.htm

David

Egad. I’ll remember never, ever, to use the word “monkey” when children are aping around in trees. I’ve updated my sensitivity files. Thank you.

TDK

At my own children's junior school, calling each "poo" is treated as being racially insensitive.

That particular epithet was and still is extremely common, was never reserved for minority children and was also used by minority children against each other and the white children. The incident apparently occurred in a classroom where the two children were working together. Claims of meanness escalated into name calling. Both used the poo insult before one child told the teacher that X had called her a poo and that it was racist. Since the school had a racism and a bullying policy, the matter was escalated. Both children were told that name calling was wrong (no issue) and that poo could be offensive to black children. In other words the school never challenged the idea that the particular use was racist.

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