I don’t know if high school teacher Spencer Smith was trying to make a serious political statement by mimicking Trayvon Martin for a yearbook photo – or if he thought wearing a hoodie and holding a bag of Skittles was just a joke. If it was supposed to be a joke, it wasn’t funny.

If the snapshot was designed as some sort of social declaration, then say so. Smith, a teacher at Heritage High School in Brentwood, California, has caused a great deal of controversy in his community for imitating Martin, who was tragically shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in 2012.

Zimmerman was acquitted of the shooting. Without hearing directly from Smith, I believe his decision was inappropriate and insensitive. I’m all for free speech, after all, I am a journalist, but I also feel that Smith should have shared his reasoning before taking the photo so folks don’t have to wonder about his intentions.

Smith is not a student; he’s a teacher, which means he is also supposed to lead by example. So what’s the lesson here for students at Heritage High School?

He’s doing the students, teachers and parents a disservice by remaining silent. Perhaps Smith had a valid reason for posing for the yearbook snapshot. Who knows? Some parents, however, thought Smith’s photo was “inappropriate.”

One mother, who didn’t want to be named, said: “This is supposed to be capturing the best moments of the year. And all positive things.”

But some students support Smith. Alfreda Charway, president of Brentwood Heritage High School’s Black Student Union, called it “a good idea because he’s expressing himself.” “Because that’s the whole point of yearbook pictures, you’re supposed to express yourself,” Charway told a local television station.

“[It was] ok that he did it, just not in the yearbook,” said Amber McKim, a sophomore at the school.

Trayvon’s Martin’s heartbreaking death is not a joke and should not be mocked. Although told to stand down by police after reporting Martin as “suspicious” Zimmerman followed the teen and confrontation ensued. He shot Martin in the heart, saying he felt threatened by a slim, good-natured 17-year-old carrying a bag of Skittles.

Acquitted on all charges by a Florida jury, to this day Zimmerman has not expressed one ounce of remorse for killing Trayvon Martin.

It’s still open season on black men – young and old – as white men are firing on Black men for no apparent reason and then using “Stand Your Ground” laws as their sorry defense. Sadly, in some cases, the controversial law is working.

We’ve learned that for some whites, Black life – and the lives of Black males in particular –means absolutely nothing. Almost all of my Black male friends have been racially profiled at some point – and that includes me. It could also include Smith.

Smith’s ill-advised high school yearbook photo comes one week after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban apologized to Trayvon Martin’s parents for making self-described racist comments about African-Americans wearing hoodies.

“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another,” Cuban said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street.”

I’m not suggesting that Smith apologize, I’m simply saying that if he decides to initiate such a provocative gesture by impersonating Trayvon Martin in a hoodie, then he owes it to the parents, teachers and students to explain his behavior.

What do you think?

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12 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Hoodie-Wearing Teacher Needs to Explain Himself

  1. ShotCalla on said:

    This man look akward in that hoodie. Must be some of that university bull shit of them wanting to take a stance. I bet this man grew up in a white neighborhood. Fuck him and fuck his dumb ass stunts. Let him come and live in my hood and see how a real nigga lives. He is a fake and we don’t need his lame ass support.

  2. Blacks should definitely think twice before carjacking a white person or break into their homes. Whites are obtaining concealed carry permits at a record pace. Gun sales have skyrocketed so if you’re a criminal, please beware. Perhaps consider getting a job or continuing education instead of robbing people.

    • Let me see if I can explain and basically agree with your good point. Basically a vast % of them can see and are not blind. They know too that this system has been screwing over a vast % of black people and them. So they also can see that a vast % of these black criminals have been profiled and driven insane from self hate and brainwashing. This is one of the main reasons for so-called black on black crime. Read the book by Amos Wilson ” Black On Black Violence ” it’s a classic. It should be a mandoratory study requirment for any black male getting out of one of these updated plantations and coming back to the hood (so-called). Since they know this those that are getting guns ( get this)
      are going to carry out their right to bear and use arms in defense of themselves on one of these brainwashed black males criminal types that might make the mistake to try to prey on them.
      So this need to be explained in detail to all these boyz in the hood who might fall for this trick that might cause them to lose their iives.

  3. He needs to be fired. We would be calling for a resignation if someone from another race pulled this brainless stunt. We can’t have it both ways. Fire the idiot.

  4. Zerkeise on said:

    Maybe Spencer is going thru mid-life crisis….instead of a Ferrari he chose a hoodie. This does not honor Treyvon. It does reflect his teaching skills. Think people, think !!!

  5. atl_native on said:

    I don’t think it was a joke. Your yearbook is not only a momento of the experieinces of school – but particularly high school year books are a window into what occurred during that time. The challenger explosion and AIDs and Regan’s landslide win over Mondale was prominently mentioned in my yearbook as a look at what occurred – it wasn’t pretty but it reminds me of the social pulse of that time. Looking at the other faces that surrounded this teacher – I betcha they didn’t mention the Martin case. But in 10, 20, or 30 years they holder of the yearbook will be reminded of how the jury voted and the nation reacted.

    • I like what you said. My first reaction to his image is ” Black Power ” Black Liberation “. All this political correct stuff I get tired of it. The first thing I think of when I see the image is how this kid was done by this zipperman guy and how the so-called court let this guy off.
      Did the court show some professional judgment in letting this nut for killing that kid ?
      No, not at all. It’s ironic how so many many seem to think that all black’s are going to react to racism and hate in some so-called professional matter.
      Do the police that kill and beat black people for nothing act professional ?
      No they be to busy beating that black @@!! .

  6. seriously on said:

    This teacher was wrong, particularly as a adult. Trayvon Martin was killed because that thing wanted to kill and a black kid or person was an easy target legally. We do not need adult black males portraying a murdered kid. We need black men and women to prepare our children (black) for the injustices they have faced and will face. Trayvon Martin was a tragedy….but so is the daily murder, mayhem and drug dealing in our communities by other black people. Turning and tearing down each other is cowardly and there is nothing more vicious and dangerous than an coward. Trayvon Martin is really a call to stop the violence against each other and building up our community social, academic and economic, so we can have some peace. Using Trayvon Martin as some kind of statement is childish and cowardly….There are most pressing issues in our communities.

  7. D Dub on said:

    Any loss of life is tragic…plain and simple. And I definitely have my suspicions about Mr. Zimmerman. However, simply describing Trayvon as “a slim, good-natured 17-year-old carrying a bag of Skittles” isn’t quite accurate either. It left out his gang affiliation and other troubled history. What about that “political awareness”? And what about the knock-out game which is constantly being played at the expense and death of many white people? Do you have any articles on here about that? Is there any outrage about those deaths? Or how about Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom? Any outrage on this website about that? Bottom line…there is good and bad regardless of your skin color. Either you want to live your life obsessed by color or you don’t. The sooner we all stop focusing on black or white the better off we’ll be.

    • Nona on said:

      Gang affiliation? You get that from Faux News’ Sean Hannity, or other right-wing sites? There has never been any proof whatsoever of Trayvon having affiliation with any gang. It’s also speaks volumes about you when you address Zimmerman as “Mr.”, as if the murderer deserves that title, and the old typical comeback of black-on-white crime.

      This is Black America Web. You want to see stories about crimes committed by blacks on whites? Look no further than your majority white-owned media. Not only will they report on crimes committed by blacks against whites, they also report on crimes committed by blacks against blacks (of course there’s no outrage from you about THAT), blacks against Latinos, blacks against anyone, because, as you well know, ALL of us are pure evil…..

      As for stop focusing on black and white, what will that accomplish? The more you sweep trash under the rug, the more it’ll pile up so high that you can’t avoid looking at it. Same with racism. As long as ignorance exists and people refuse to learn from the past, respect for each other’s cultures and simple humanity will never be gained, and it’s going to remain for generations to come. So, why you’re on this site is baffling to me, other than you need an adrenaline rush today, and what better way for a conservative to get it.

      • D Dub on said:

        Out of respect, I don’t want to escalate any sort of labeling. I was simply responding to the characterization in the article. People can certainly do their own search and view pictures, school reports, twitter feeds, etc. and make up their own mind.

        I agree with your point regarding the “Mr.” salutation. In my mind, I heard it as tongue-in-cheek…I should have written it as “Mr.” Zimmerman. I actually see him as a coward who was trying to bolster his own shallow ego. He was clearly told to disengage and, as a result of his persistence, got his backside kicked by Trayvon. The whole situation could and should have been avoided.

        However, I have to whole-heartedly disagree with your assertion that the mainstream media covers black on white crime in any accurate way. Despite the volume of stories on the matter…it is rarely reported on any major network. Generally, you only find these stories on the web. However, if the color roles were reversed…you can bet that it would be consistently at the top of every newscast…much like the story referred to in this article.

        As for the black / white focus…it seems to me that you can’t have it both ways. Black people in this country suffered greatly under the laws of the past (which interestingly enough were mostly written by Democrats). Great men like MLK bravely fought against this and made great strides.

        However, despite all of the efforts to achieve equality…there is an abundance of effort to remain separate. For example, this website is Black America Web as you so aptly pointed out. Is that in an effort to be equal or separate?

        And to answer your question…I seek news from all outlets in an effort to hear all sides before forming my own opinions. I don’t know why that would be “baffling” to anyone. I believe more people should be open to different points of view. They might learn something instead of being blindly led by one particular ideology (I’m an Independent by the way).

        And I take offense to your assertion that I have no outrage as it relates to black on black or any other sort of violence or crime. That was not even a topic of discussion here. My heart weeps for children and families of any ethnicity who are locked in a cycle of poverty by a government that treats them as if they have no dignity. People of all walks need a hand up and not a hand-out. It goes back to the words of Jesus…teach a man to fish versus giving him a fish. I strongly believe that restoring peoples own independence would go a long way in reducing the level of crime. I realize that there are no easy answers…but what has been happening the last several decades doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect for a lot of families out there. I find any crime by anyone toward anyone else outrageous.

        If people are ever going to have an open and honest dialogue…it would be prudent to stop casting unfounded accusations against someone before considering their point of view…don’t ya’ think?

  8. Real simple the overall situtation is not a joke. So would some people be real happy if he had a wig and dress on or maybe wearing some saggy pants. It’s great to see some black’s show some type of political awareness instead of all this fake media shoe shining and tap dancing.

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