The Color Theory: Symbol of Justice

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Like I said before in a previous post, we are closing in on a pretty shitty year. Although 2020 has been a wild ride for many of us, I know I am not the only one that is super happy that Trump is finally being kicked out of the office.

With our new president coming into the horizon, there are still social issues we face in a very divided country. In this week’s post, for me to talk about politics after this year’s election is only “fitting” (pun intended).

We started this year with uncertainty, but many people can say that we are ending it with a shining glimmer of hope. But with Biden becoming President, we have to realize that this is just the beginning, this country still has a lot of work to do.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez

One of the biggest obstacles that President Biden will face in his first day in office is racial inequality. Over numerous decades, we have seen tragedies and murders of innocent black lives. 2020 has shined light upon from the events of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other countless names from this year alone. 

More names memorialized here (via CBS News)

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

I digress, but let’s not forget that The Color Theory is a fashion column. Like I said in the past, hoodie season is now in full effect. Hoodies have transcended fashion in so many ways, but also social-political movements as well.

Consider this: in the mid 70s, for some, hoodies were seen as a sign of rebellion and crime. Denis Wilson of Rolling Stone says “from its association with punk and hip-hop to skater culture, the hoodie has a history of being adopted by youth-driven communities once relegated to the fringes, imbuing it with an iconoclastic, sometimes criminal, subtext. Mainstream fashion may embrace it as a practical article of clothing, but it never lost that edge”.

Things like this creates racial biases. For people like George Zimmerman, creates a divide and fuels more to the fire. This negative connotation of hoodies meant that people like Zimmerman think innocent kids like Trayvon were “up to no good” just because they had their hood up – and to call it self-defense is absolutely shameful.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Nowadays, some can argue that the hoodie can represent a symbol of defiance and progression after the tragedy of Trayvon Martin back in 2012. If you remember the protests at the time, a great number of Americans donned the hoodie. Marching and chanting “We are all Trayvon Martin”. Hundreds of supporters walked in a Million Hoodie March in New York – and then other gatherings in other cities (Linton Weeks via NPR).

So hoodies do not necessarily have to be a symbol of anything – as this particular piece of clothing should be representing your aesthetic and nature. Let’s be realistic, everyone in America owns at least one hoodie. Troy Patterson from The New York Times Magazine puts it best: “A black guy in a hoodie is just another of the many millions of men and boys dressed in the practical gear of an easygoing era. Or he should be”.

All I am really saying is, racism has been passed down from hundreds of generations. It’s up to all of us today to start a different mindset for many generations to come. Everyone owns a hoodie, everyone poops, everyone dies, so let’s learn how to love and forgive each other.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

What Dave Chappelle said in his most recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, predicates to everything I am telling you now. Watch it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from his monologue:

“All the white people who feel that anguish, that pain, that man, they think nobody cares – Maybe they don’t. But let me tell you something, I know how that feels. I promise you, I know how that feels”

“You’re a police officer. Every time you put on a uniform, you feel like you’ve got a target on your back. You’re appalled by the ingratitude that people have when you would risk your life to save them – Oh man, believe me. Believe me, I know how that feels. Everyone knows how that feels.”

“I don’t hate anybody, but I hate that feeling. That’s what I fight through, I suggest that’s what you fight through”

Although we may have another old white man back in office again, let’s not be mistaken for this: we have to hold him accountable just like any other President before him. We are in an era of progression – an era where we want to love each other and live off the simplicities of life.

In his transition plans, via Build Back Better, it states: “President-elect Joe Biden is working to strengthen America’s commitment to justice, and reform our criminal justice system. As the former District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has spent her entire career fighting for justice for the people, and equal justice under law”

The Biden-Harris administration will work with Congress to pass police reform legislation including:

  • A nationwide ban on chokeholds.
  • Stopping the transfer of weapons of war to police forces.
  • Improving oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard.
  • Creating a national police oversight commission.

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.

The City Speaks Through D. Watkins

Students and faculty flooded to the dimly lit Wright Theater on the fifth floor of the student center for another MFA reading. This series has given promising authors who can relate to students of color and students who have experienced hardship. The room crowded with eager participants, awaiting the arrival of a University of Baltimore graduate. The graduate also known as poet and writer but better known as D. Watkins.

D. Watkins had honest beginnings in East Baltimore where he witnessed many tragedies and was shaped by the injustices of life. Aside from University of Baltimore, Watkins received a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University. Currently he is a professor at Goucher University. Those who crowded into the Wright Theater were waiting to hear from about his book, The Beast Side, and listen as he lamented on life in the concrete jungle known as East Baltimore.

His presence emerged. He is charming young man who still holds his recognizable Baltimore accent. Watkins begins the evening with background about himself. One of his opening statements was, “I’ve been shot, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been beaten down. I’ve beat people down. Statistically, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m blessed.” He followed up with an anecdote on his time at UB in Kendra Kopelke’s graduate course. “She had two rules,” he said, “no centering poems and no rhyming.” Watkins remembers this was the first time he had ever been laughed at by a group of his peers because of a love poem he had written.

Moving along with the evening, he begins to read from his book. The Beast Side: Living and Dying while Black in America is a collection of essays and stories from Watkins’ real life. The topics range from Food, “Black on Black crime,” police brutality to street harassment. The books, he said, “things I wanted to learn from [ages] 5-25 that no one ever told me. Watkins creates stories that are bigger than himself, traveling throughout the nation, creating a voice for African-Americans in Baltimore and in America. This book, as he describes, is not only for people from “rough” neighborhoods who are misrepresented or underrepresented but also for a person from a rich suburb with health food markets around the corner who doesn’t understand life in East or West Baltimore.

This book represents the people who live in urban communities who often misjudged and ignored by media until something involving “Black on Black” crime or robbery happens. Watkins read through the introduction of his book, giving the audience this to think about, “African-Americans are about as safe as a chunk of steak in a den full of starving lions.” Furthermore, Watkins encouraged the audience to do more than protest, although he is certainly not against protesting. He put things into perspective by telling a story of a phone call he received. A friend called him, telling him to wear all black. They would meet on North Avenue to lay down in traffic. Watkins said no, telling his friend to imagine the person who works at Walmart who tells their boss, “I can’t make it to work because of a traffic jam or the street is blocked off.” Watkins delivered one line: Dan- generic manager name- just cancelled their Christmas. Furthermore, he added that any person who didn’t care for the cause could easily run their car over one of the protestors in the street and get away with it. He decided against it.

Watkins presence is what college campuses need at this time because his work is raw and gritty. He is not afraid to be real and say what needs to be said about race relations in America. Aside from telling the stories of the ignored, he wrote this book because as a teacher, his goal is to promote literacy and make a big difference in the lives of children. Children from East Baltimore just like him. Often he asks his students what they are currently reading, outside of school and they say nothing. He wants to change this. Watkins wants people to ask themselves, “what can we do to make a difference?” “How help the community?” After he read passages from his book, there were questions from the audience members. He was asked about the debate between black lives matter and all lives matter to which he responded: “Black lives matter is a key movement in the modern civil rights movement. All lives matter people wanted attention and to be seen. Black lives matter is pushing the Black experience forward in American. I honor and support them. When the police killed a white kid the all live matter people didn’t show up.” The evening was filled with enlightenment and words of wisdom. Although Watkins said the America he wants to see won’t exist in his life time, he will continue to push for a better future.