‘Hoodie’ exhibit examines implicit bias


Courtesy Photo

Blu Collar Fashion and Multicultural Education Services are collaborating on the “Humanize My Hoodie” exhibit, opening at Rod Library on Tuesday, Jan. 22.


When you walk down the street, you may not pay much attention to other people’s fashion sense. In everyday life, a clothing item such as a hoodie is seen as commonplace and ordinary. However, due to unconscious biases, some people may see it as a warning sign.

Assistant Director for Multicultural Education Services Keyah Levy wishes to alter these biases with the “Humanize My Hoodie” exhibit, a collaboration between Blu Collar Fashion and Multicultural Education Services.

“First, the Humanize My Hoodie movement was developed by a fashion designer, Andre Wright, and criminology professor Jason Sole,” Levy said. “It stemmed from unarmed black men in hoodies, and it’s based on threat perception and furthering that conversation. It allows us to collaborate with the community and the campus and it’s a creative way for people to get involved. The actual exhibit displays hoodies and black people being targeted by police brutality. It’s also tied to on-campus issues such as creating a more inclusive curriculum.”

Levy is looking forward to the event’s grand opening, which will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rod Library. The exhibit will close one month later on Feb. 22.

The Humanize My Hoodie campaign also partnered with UNI to make purple and gold hoodies promoting the event.

Andre Wright and Jason Sole will be there to present at 6 p.m. during the opening ceremony for 30 minutes. Their presentations will be followed by a walkthrough and a question-and-answer session. Refreshments will also be served.

A second part of the exhibit will feature “UNDRESSING: The Culture of Humanizing.”

“Humanize My Hoodie is a component to that,” Levy said. “It’s a fashion show that addresses rape culture by Annette Lynch, a professor of textiles and apparel. It’s a mesh between communities, and it’s meant to incorporate curriculum development with the faculty. There are several students who focus on social justice through fashion, and this event is meant to make it into a conversation.”

Levy hopes that the event is able to humanize others and help people see black men in hoodies as something other than a threat. She believes that the overall goal is to have attendees understand the implicit biases they may have, and in doing so, make classrooms more inclusive to all cultures.

She thinks that the event also applies to the hiring process and how people interact in general. Sometimes a person’s actions can be disadvantageous to another and it can be necessary to adjust one’s “lenses” in order to see the bigger picture.

“The event is a great way to get students, faculty and staff involved,” Levy said. “It’s a tough conversation to have, but hopefully it will remove barriers that have been there before. We’re thankful that we could work with Andre and Jason and expand our program off of that collaboration.”