At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduation ceremony last month, Barney Frank said the following about a man, Hubie Jones, who had received an honorary degree: “Hubie, I think you have a hoodie you can wear and nobody will shoot at you.” Mr. Frank has issued an apology for his remark, which in today’s culture is akin to a free pass. But not on this blog.
Obviously, Mr. Frank was referring to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The facts of that case will be shown at trial, but the evidence made public thus far does not suggest that Trayvon Martin was shot because he was wearing a hoodie. At least one prominent lawyer agrees:
Not only wrong on the facts, Mr. Frank’s comment was also patronizing. By implying that a chief benefit of a college degree for a black man is to protect him from being victimized because of his race would seem to be insulting to black people as well as to those who would better themselves by pursuing higher education. What is it about people like Mr. Frank who make these types of asinine comments with the intent of portraying themselves as racially sensitive?
Too often, people in public service like Mr. Frank who have made comments like the above – comments that reveal their lack of both awareness and depth of thought – are given a free pass by their employers. In this case, Mr. Frank’s employers have been the voters in his Massachusetts district. However, since he is retiring this year, Massachusetts voters will not have the chance to fire him.