Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Me and My Hoodie I Belonged to the Chatham Gang, I Guess

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Me and My Hoodie I Belonged to the Chatham Gang, I Guess

Article excerpt

The Trayvon Martin trial is on, which brings back memories of hoodies, one of which Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot by George Zimmerman. Soon after the event, some commentators suggested, more or less, "Well, he was a black kid wearing a hoodie in a gated community, what would you expect?" ...

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In the fall of 1991, the first autumn in the Victorian house my husband and I had bought, I went a little nuts and had ordered one thousand daffodil bulbs. The long-neglected garden cried out for color. But one thousand holes ... You are on your own, said my husband.

A young man from next door came over one day with his mother and asked if he might help me in the yard. He wanted to earn some money for school activities (the upcoming spring prom and all those other little extras his mom could not afford). I bought him gardening gloves and a foam kneeling pad so as not to hurt his knees and interfere with his football playing.

So the digging began.

Never one to complain, he did one day suggest we start a company called "We Be Bulbs."

He was a really bright kid and good company. He asked a lot of good questions about gardening, bulbs and then our conversations turned to current events, music and anything else we came up with to help pass the arduous hours. He was very curious about what it had been like growing up in a small town, away from the city, a life so different from what he knew.

We decided to plant some veggies in the spring because he wanted to see how they grew. I teased him that tomatoes did not grow in back of the Giant Eagle.

Not really knowing how much teenage boys eat, I would often run out of his favorite soft drink or snack and he would jog to the corner store for more. I rewarded us with pizza. I heard my first rap music when he loaned us some CDs. He asked for and we gave him our copies of The New York Times.

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At one point, I began to notice that my companion from time to time would appear reluctant to come into our yard. So I asked him if there was a problem. He lowered his head. "Mrs. Parker, you should not be wearing that navy blue hoodie. This is Bloods territory and those are Crips colors. …

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