Did your church, synagogue, house of prayer or temple celebrate hoodie Sunday yesterday?
I am a Caucasian, middle class, mom of three who is also a pastor, a high school youth group sponsor and a writer. I did not wear a hoodie to worship yesterday but I wish I had, and I have to wonder if all children will be safe from stereotype and fear until all mothers and fathers don a hoodie to remember a 17-year-old deceased son?
I have sons. I support teenage males in our church youth group. Granted, we live in hot and humid Louisiana so the likelihood that they will wear a hoodie is low since a hoodie is our equivalent of a parka, but there will be other clothes they choose to wear that may feed an unjust cultural stereotype. I worry. I worry about bullying. I worry that they will respond with aggression or be treated with aggression when others disagree or question them. I worry about their safety.
As I surveyed the well-dressed folk at worship yesterday my heart was heavy. Based on the color of my skin, my geography, and the chance of my existence, I know that I have no idea the type of fear that parents of African Americans boys feel. I do not know what it is like to wear a hoodie and be a 17-year-old African American boy. Though I do not know, I do care.
As I read my Lenten devotional this morning preparing for Palm Sunday to come this weekend, I read these words of Archbishop Oscar Romero:
"For the church, the many abuses of human life, liberty and dignity are a heartfelt suffering. The church, entrusted with the earth's glory, believes that in each person is the Creator's image and that everyone who tramples it offends God. As the holy defender of God's rights and of God's images, the church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face, as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they be unbelievers. They suffer as God's image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God's image, and the church takes as its own that cross, that martyrdom."
I am not Catholic nor from El Salvador, but Bishop Romero's words speak to my heart and call me to live as a person of God who takes the suffering of any human being as an affront to the image of God. Suffering calls for acts of deep empathy. I am reminded of The Message translation of 1 Corinthians 12:25-6:
"The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing..."
Wearing a hoodie may seem like a superficial thing we can do with our individual bodies, but if in doing so we show our solidarity as one body of humanity then I will don a hoodie.
To read more from Amy Ziettlow visit www.familyscholars.org