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George Zimmerman Proves Latinos Can Be Racist, Too

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Where do Latinos fit in Discussions of Racism?

 

Attempts to force Zimmerman into a “black versus white” model of racism are bound to fail. As a light-skinned Latino (and especially one without an obviously Hispanic last name), does Zimmerman experience privilege? Of course. If he had darker skin, an obvious Spanish accent, or did not have one white parent, I’m certain he would not have been allowed to walk free after Trayvon Martin’s death.

But I can tell you from personal experience: being able to “pass” as white doesn’t mean you aren’t subject to racist attitudes and discrimination. And the fact that Zimmerman’s victim was black is significant. If a light-skinned, English-speaking, mixed-race Latino man with one immigrant parent had killed a blonde-haired, blue-eyed teenager under the same circumstances, I suspect the outcome would have been very different.

But that wouldn’t have happened. A white teenager walking home isn’t automatically “suspicious.” Black men and boys are.

In Arizona, Zimmerman would have been the “suspicious” one. Border vigilantes in the state have repeatedly shown they have no respect for human life — indeed, that they barely believe undocumented immigrants (or anyone they suspect might be one) to be human at all. In a state with a massive illegal immigration problem and draconian, racist, anti-Latino laws, anyone who looks vaguely Hispanic can be racially profiled and targeted by the police without any evidence of a crime. Plenty of American citizens across the US have found themselves deported to Mexico by overzealous immigration officials. Unusually tan skin and dark hair, or even a Spanish last name, are enough to incriminate you. Arguing that Latinos are “white” and that these laws don’t constitute racial profiling is disingenuous and ignores the reality that most Latinos are mixed-race.

Racism Among Minority Groups

So much of the media coverage and right wing response to Zimmerman seems to assume that Latinos can’t be racist. Of course they can be. African-Americans can be racist, too. It’s not uncommon for members of one minority group to be prejudiced against other minorities. Being Black or Latino doesn’t change anything about the messages we receive, growing up in a racist society.

And for someone like Zimmerman, raised by a white father in a society which devalues black life and concerns, racist attitudes are not surprising. For those of us who can “pass” as white, finding a place to fit in can be challenging and depressing. Being only “half” Latino, Zimmerman might not have fit in with the local Latino population. Being only “half” white, he may have felt a need to prove himself by being harsher against black men and boys he saw as potential troublemakers.

Some people react to the prejudice by fighting it, even prejudice against groups to which they don’t belong. Others react to it by turning the tables — working to focus the vitriol of others to different minority groups. This is an especially difficult problem to navigate when you don’t belong exclusively to one well-defined racial or ethnic category, because there’s often less of a support network in place for dealing with issues of race.

George Zimmerman’s Racism

I strongly believe that Zimmerman was motivated by Trayvon Martin’s race when he stalked and murdered him for doing nothing more than walking home from the store. Arguments by his family that his close relationships with people of other races prove he’s not capable of prejudice are meaningless.

It’s easy to say “I have plenty of black friends.” But actions speak louder than words: when someone kills a person without provocation, in cold blood, after being told to stand down by police, on no other basis than their victim’s skin color, doesn’t that send a strong message about how they perceive the value of black life?

If that doesn’t qualify as “racism,” I don’t know what does. If George Zimmerman’s actions don’t show him to be a racist, then I don’t think anyone could qualify for the label.

When I look at George Zimmerman, I see a man of mixed race, a mestizo — not a white man. And I see someone familiar. Someone who could be my brother, my uncle, my cousin. And that, to me, makes his actions all the more inexcusable. Growing up in the murky divide between Latino and “white,” never quite one or the other, sometimes experiencing the benefit of passing and other times facing racist attitudes and discrimination…well, to be honest, it makes you resentful.

For me, my experiences have shown me how I could always be treated, if the world were fair. And I decided that everyone should be able to live free of racism all the time — not just some of the time, if you could pass well enough. In a fair world, in a just world, there should be no need to “pass” at all. And this has led me to a passion for social justice and anti-racist work. It seems that, despite undoubtedly facing discrimination as the child of a mixed-race marriage, Zimmerman learned the opposite lesson. For him, the most important thing was keeping people of other races in their place, no matter the cost.

Knowing that Zimmerman has been on the receiving end of the same suspicions and stereotypes he leveled against Martin is disturbing. I would have hoped someone who’d experienced what it’s like to live as a minority in America would have more empathy for others, and be able to give the benefit of the doubt. Instead, Zimmerman†preferred†to succumb to damaging stereotypes, and it cost the life of an innocent teen boy.

 

Related Stories:

Will The Latino Vote Decide The Next President?

Secretary Salazar Works to Uncover the American Latino Story

Update:†Trayvon Martin†Case Developments

Demand Justice For Trayvon Martin: Repeal “Stand Your Ground

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258 comments

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7:37PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

DrC you don't seem to understand and it makes me laugh that the media and The Martin family (God bless there son) seem to be attacking g the SYG law. He was acquitted under self defense and not SYG. The instructions by the dispatcher not to follow the suspect was a suggestion however Zimmerman was well with in his right to follow. The other thing that people seem to not understand is legal stalking is a persist an action spanning multiple infractions of harassment. Zimmerman did not stalk anyone and according to his testimony he just wanted to find ou where he went. It is evident from the previous 911 call where he didn't get out o the car he mentions to the dispatcher "I don't want to ask him what he is doing because I don't want any problems" in which that case the suspect gets away before the police arrive. So there is evidence that he was already scared of confrentation. If this guy was so filled with hatred why didn't he kill the first guy who was later caught by the police and had one of the neighbors laptop. Please explain that to me?

7:24PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

You are spot on about the whole Latino complex. I too have faced racial difficulties being light skinned Latino with a Spanish last name. But you seem to insist that Zimmerman also being light skinned Latino with a Jewish last name had something to prove to other Latinos by being aggressive to Blacks. You are wrong. I envy Zimmerman because Spanish was his first language. If he had to prove his Latino back ground all he had to do was open his mouth and just talk. Me I was stuck with a rare Spanish last name that left other Latinos assuming I was White regardless what I said. When it came to me and Blacks well that got even more complicated because they didn't like me because I was mexican. See where I grew up Blacks and Whites did not have tensions. But Mexicans would always start crap with Blacks or Mayates as they put it and vice versa. I give credit to you for painting a clear picture of the Latin race complex. But don't think for once you understand racism in America. I have been to several states and racism is different depending on where you live. As for Zimmerman he grew up in Manassas and the racism that seems to be going on here is US citizens and illegal immigrants. As a matter of fact PWC is the first place in America to start checking green cards before Arizona implemented the law.

11:36PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

The only racial aspect that might seem to come into play here is that in Mr. Zimmerman's mind that a black person wearing a "hoodie" is grounds for suspicion and stalking.

If it really matters I'm white, and in an interracial relationship of 30+ years, and those in our circles come in just about every variety as to us it's more important what's behind your eyes than the skin you happen to ride in or the many other measures people use to set one apart.

11:21PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Never called them facts....they are indeed opinions.

You are a true blue bleeding heart if there ever was one.

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

11:19PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Having listened to the 911 call made by Mr. Zimmerman where at the time he was reporting what he claimed to be a suspicious character, it was clear from the call that at that point there was no threat to his person and no crime had occurred.

That being the case there was no "stand your ground" basis.

"Are you following him?" the dispatcher asks.
"Yeah," Zimmerman said.
"We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher says.

If anyone would have claim to actions under a "stand your ground" law it would have been Trayvon Martin who was being stalked by Mr. Zimmerman the self anointed community watch character.

Mr. Zimmerman later added embellishments to his story that just don't jive with his 911 call,
so it would seem that while we'll have to wait for the trial , Mr. Zimmerman by his own actions created the situation and is simply not entitled to a pass under the "stand your ground" law.

10:38PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

No, not in a pickle just my personal opinion on them.
Here's another personal thought on blacks in general,
not all of them mind you just about 65% of them:
A gun in one hand & the bible in the other. One might
save them or the other will kill them or other people.
You can & will stick up for them all you want however
I'll respect those who can see beyond their blackness
and respect others with a color as well.

If there is any minority group I whole heartedly
sympathize with it is the Native American indian.
The NA are far worse off than 90% of blacks & yet
they do not cause even a third of the murders or
crimes that blacks do.

There are several topics that set people on fire
where few agree:
Race
Abortion
Politics
Global Warming
Ther's another, can't think of it.

Anyway....You are going to stick up for
these people until one sticks a gun in your back.
That may change you mind a bit. Then again
you may live where you see a black once in a
blue moon & that is why you will defend them until
your dying day just like I won't.

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

10:37PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

No, not in a pickle just my personal opinion on them.
Here's another personal thought on blacks in general,
not all of them mind you just about 65% of them:
A gun in one hand & the bible in the other. One might
save them or the other will kill them or other people.
You can & will stick up for them all you want however
I'll respect those who can see beyond their blackness
and respect others with a color as well.

If there is any minority group I whole heartedly
sympathize with it is the Native American indian.
The NA are far worse off than 90% of blacks & yet
they do not cause even a third of the murders or
crimes that blacks do.

There are several topics that set people on fire
where few agree:
Race
Abortion
Politics
Global Warming
Ther's another, can't think of it.

Anyway....You are going to stick up for
these people until one sticks a gun in your back.
That may change you mind a bit. Then again
you may live where you see a black once in a
blue moon & that is why you will defend them until
your dying day just like I won't.

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

9:54PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Bette's a racist, no secret there.

9:44PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Well, what do you think of this:
Destructive Flash Mob at Walmart in Jacksonville Florida on Video!
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flash mobs usually provide for some spontaneous light-hearted entertainment, but this was anything but. A flash mob recently overran ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPq0O9wa4pQ

I'll say to my dying day blacks are hyper & over react to just about anything. Yes, Greeks & Italians get a bit wound up by have you ever seen a flash mob of white, Greeks or Italians do what was done in Fla.? And, this is not the first time this has happened either.
And this over reaction ties in very well with this Treyvan kid possibly jumping on GZ & that is why GZ shot the kid. And the kid was way taller, younger & faster than GZ to begin with.

Blacks have GZ targeted for a riot or get him sent up at all cost to satisfy that he or someone pays for Treyvan being shot.

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

9:30PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Ask Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit.. Black vs. Latino gangs are murdering each other and whites every day.

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