Destigmatizing people of color, one hoodie at a time

The Humanize My Hoodie art exhibit, which seeks to destigmatize people of color wearing hoodies, is visiting the UI for April, with a special opening event April 12. Co-creators of the project, Andre Wright and Jason Sole, will be at the event to talk about the project as well as answer questions.


Contributed: Jonah Terry

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

“The senseless killing of people of color has spurred conversations about society’s perception of the hoodie. Simply put: if you are black and you are wearing a hoodie, you are considered a threat.”

This is the opening statement on the Born Leaders United website, a group dedicated to ending the stigma toward people of color in hoodies. Born Leaders United started the Humanize My Hoodie movement, a national art exhibit that seeks discussion on the matter. This year, Humanize My Hoodie visits the UI campus.

The Humanize My Hoodie opening event will be April 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Old Capitol. The exhibit is open to the public through April, but the opening event has aspects unique from the rest of the month.

Related: Black Art; Real Stories to perform, wrapping up Black History Month

“[The opening event] will feature the co-creators of the project, Andre Wright and Jason Sole, as they give a brief talk about their powerful and inspirational project and share their work,” said Jessica Smith, the communications coordinator for the Pentacrest Museums. “It’s an art exhibit but also a movement.”

The opening event is expected to draw a large crowd, especially considering that the exhibit is expanded exclusively for the night.

“We are expecting — and will be delighted to have — a full house this Friday,” Smith said. “The seating is first-come, first-served. The speakers will begin promptly at 4. After the talk, we will host guests throughout the museum to enjoy refreshments and the one-night-only expanded exhibit. Humanize My Hoodie co-creators will stick around after the talk to meet guests.”

The project was pursued by the Pentacrest Museums in interest of education.

Related: Neal: Women’s History Month: reflecting on a racial truth

“The University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums pursued the project because we think it’s really powerful and culturally relevant,” Smith said. “It is the mission of the Old Capitol Museum to educate the university, local, and national communities on the continuing significance of the humanities.”

In accordance to the project, the Pentacrest Museums seek to spark responsible conversations about equality as well as reimagine what the traditional American Dream is.

“We take pride in serving as a center of culture and civic disclosure through exhibits and programming,” Smith said. “Humanize My Hoodie is a perfect fit for our museum and the University of Iowa’s Theme Semester: The American Dream. We hope this exhibit will inspire conversations and progress in our community.”

By attending the opening event of Humanize My Hoodie, students and community members can learn how to further stay active in social-justice issues not only on campus but nationwide.

“I think that the event itself is really important,” Smith said. “We only have the exhibit for a short time, just one month. Everyone should come and see the exhibit one way or another, but if you’re interested in this movement whatsoever, for any reasons, this Friday is absolutely the time to come. It’s a great way to stay involved, stay active in issues of justice and equality in our community.”