A debate has raged on social media over proper classroom attire after an HBCU professor reportedly issued a controversial dress code policy for his students.
According to a tweet posted on Jan. 6, which garnered 2.9 million views one week later, the syllabus banned students from wearing hoodies, durags, bonnets, and three styles of shorts: “booty,” “coochie cutter” and “twerk.”
Forbes reported that the instructor is a Black male computer science professor at North Carolina A&T University, but the article does not name him.
Some Twitter users sharply criticized his dress code policy as antiblack, while others defended it as setting a standard that will serve the students in their careers.
Angry responses zeroed in on the shorts ban. “This is givingggg antiblack image typing coochie cutter and twerk shorts into a syllabus,” one twitter user wrote.
Many people supported that view, but others pushed back.
“If their students are wearing such clothing, which inherently lacks taste and class… to class… and they are trying to mold students into scholars… not strippers…,” a response stated.
Many of those who supported the dress code dismissed the opinion that it’s anti-Black.
“…Making a dress code isn’t anti Black it’s establishing decorum,” a Twitter user posted. “We currently live in an environment that people just do what they want and that’s not acceptable.”
Among the list of banned attire, the hoodie ban seemed to raise lots of eyebrows. Even many of those who agreed with the professor’s shorts restrictions couldn’t understand why hoodies were on the list.
Hoodies have become a staple of hip-hop culture since the early 1970s but have “raised the hackles of the white establishment,” according to The Cut, pointing to the NBA’s controversial 2005 dress code that banned hoodies, durags, large jewelry and other items stereotypically associated with Black culture.
The hoodie has become an example of racist stereotypes of Black criminality. It’s inextricably linked to the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teen wearing a hoodie, by self-appointed community watchman George Zimmerman.
“As the hoodie became associated with ‘Black hoodlums’ in the media, some Black people avoided them and others embraced them: the public image of the hoodie made it into a statement of racial pride and defiance, solidarity with a community, an emblem of belonging, and all of that reinforced the negative associations for those who were inclined to be afraid of assertive Black people,” Richard Thompson Ford told The Guardian.
He added: “Putting on a hoodie as a Black man involved a decision to make a statement that could make some people mistrust you, get you hassled by police, even killed.”