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Fashion Campaign 'Humanize My Hoodie' Starts a Conversation About Threat Perception

Photo Courtesy of Andre Wright
Jason Sole and Andre Wright, collaborators for the Humanize My Hoodie campaign.

Andre Wright, CEO of the fashion label Born Leaders United, saw a post by his friend Jason Sole on Facebook months ago. Sole wrote that as a culture, we need to stop stereotyping people based on how they dress. In that post, he pointed specifically to the hooded sweatshirt.

Wright picked up the phone and called Sole, and the Humanize My Hoodie campaign was born. 

"We want to start a conversation about threat perception," says Wright. "Why does a hooded sweatshirt have a different connotation when it's a black man wearing it? It's important to think about how we stereotype each other, and the hoodies have so far been a really great way to have that conversation." 

"Some of the most wicked people on this planet wear the nicest suits." - Jason Sole

Sole is a the former president of the Minneapolis NAACP and is currently working as Community First Public Safety Initiatives director for the city of St. Paul. He's also an adjunct professor at Hamline University. He teaches criminal justice and pulls on his experience as a three-time convicted felon when teaching his classes. 

"I'm dressed up today. I know what kind of treatment to expect," says Sole. "But when I have on a hoodie, people who know me don't even know me. That differential treatment can be deadly. People see me with a hoodie on, and they automatically assume I'm a threat. I'm not." 

During this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with Wright and Sole about the campaign about about their own experiences wearing them. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa