Zimmerman Case Ignites Dialogue on Latino Racial Identity

Zimmerman Case Ignites Dialogue on Latino Racial Identity

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The killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has ignited a dialogue about race among Latino journalists and bloggers over the complex racial identity of Latinos, and the simplified – and sometimes inaccurate -- ways some media have reported it.

Coverage of the Trayvon Martin case has varied widely in different media sectors. Suspected shooter George Zimmerman, whose mother is Peruvian, has been labeled “white,” “Hispanic” and “white Hispanic.”

Meanwhile, the Pew Hispanic Center last week released a report that found that the majority of Latinos do not in fact identify as Latino or Hispanic at all, but by their country of origin. The study, "When Labels Don't Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity," adds a new twist to the debate over whether suspected shooter George Zimmerman is Hispanic: If the majority of Latinos/Hispanics don’t identify as such, perhaps that is the wrong question to be asking.

‘Hispanics Can Be of Any Race’

“As a Hispanic, watching the media's use of terms like ‘white’ and ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ in the Zimmerman-Martin case has been an occasion for much eye-rolling,” writes Ryan W. McMaken for the libertarian LRC Blog. “The way the press uses these terms betrays just how completely ignorant most reporters and talking heads are about even the basics of ethnicity and race in this country.”

The press labeled Zimmerman as white, he writes, “because that's what the media has determined will produce the most fertile ground for ‘racial’ conflict.”

“I don't know why this is so hard for people to grasp, but let's just make this clear: According to anthropologists, ethnologists, historians and census takers, ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ is not a racial designation. It is a term that denotes ethnicity,” McMaken writes.

“Hispanics can be of any race. There are white Hispanics, black Hispanics, and even Asian Hispanics. Examples would be former Mexican president Vicente Fox, Cuban musician Ibrahim Ferrer, and former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, respectively. There are also, of course, mestizo Hispanics, such as Benito Juarez.”

‘How we see, hear and live with each other’

Dallas-based blogger Marisa Tresviño writes for the blog LatinaLista that the Trayvon Martin case – and the media coverage that has revolved around it – has brought to the surface underlying attitudes about race in America.

“This case has stirred emotions that have always existed but were buried so deeply that it took a perceived outrage to galvanize national unity on an issue that should have been on the front burner of the national dialogue long ago — how we see, hear and live with each other. In other words, race relations.”

The United States may be a country built on immigration, she writes, “yet we live with this prevailing notion, however subconscious, that you don’t belong unless you’re white.”

“The likelihood of another Trayvon Martin-Zimmerman confrontation is highly probable,” Tresviño concludes, “unless the national dialogue seriously starts to include addressing a topic that is long overdue and has a shorter and shorter fuse.”

‘Initially It Was Just Black and White’

Conservative media, meanwhile, criticized Latino organizations for their “silence” on the case, and for not standing behind Zimmerman. But Latino advocates say these remarks take away from the real issue, reports Soni Sangha for Fox News Latino.

"We have paradigms in this country: Initially it was just black and white," Lisa Navarette, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, told Fox News Latino. "This is complicated because the media tried to put it into that paradigm but it didn't fit."

"This is much more complex than simply saying this guy is Hispanic and we [Hispanics] have to defend Hispanics," Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told Fox News Latino. "There is a whole question going on like, 'Are Hispanics capable of being racist?' 'Why are they calling him a white Hispanic?'... That shows a lack of understanding about the Latino community."

‘Dividing Blacks and Latinos’ or ‘Bringing the Communities Together’?

Some Latino groups, meanwhile, took Geraldo Rivera to task for his comment that the hoodie worn by Trayvon Martin was as much responsible for his death as the man who shot him. A group of community activists calling themselves Latinos For Trayvon Martin accused Rivera of dividing blacks and Latinos.

At a news conference at Hostos Community College in the Bronx last Thursday, they called for the arrest of George Zimmerman. The action was a response to what they saw as an attempt by “some in the mainstream media” to “play the ‘Hispanic card’ to transform what appears to be a racially motivated murder to a Black-Brown division.”

“George Zimmerman is half Latino, but his mentality appears to be completely white supremacist. We suspect that Geraldo Rivera's mentality is not far from Zimmerman's,” wrote community activists José Alfaro, Ramon Jimenez, Esperanza Martell, Radhames Perez, José LaSalle, Rafael Sencion Marina Ortiz and Zenaida Mendez.

Rivera responded in a column on Fox News Latino, writing, “That provable falsehood cannot be tolerated.”

On the contrary, he writes, “If anything, isn't the reaction to the tragedy bringing the communities together to express shared outrage?”

‘Irrational Fear’

Regardless of who perpetrated the crime, the case was a clear example of racial profiling, write editors of Spanish-language news network ImpreMedia.

“It is tragic that the mere presence of an African American teen walking at night is seen as a threat. But it's even worse when legally, this mistaken perception is enough to justify a murder,” according to an editorial in New York’s Spanish-language daily El Diario/La Prensa.

“What happened speaks of racism in our society, which is reflected in irrational fear,” editors write.


 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Apr 10 2012

did not know he was black. there was no profiling listen to the 911 call.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 12 2012

thanking the Creator for finally bring us justices. In regard to the others Americans from south, and Central American we no see each other as a races but rather than persons that is if he/she never lived in the US. there had have been many many years of separation and division but yea it since that it never gets old, because now a day our gap of separation & division is getting wider. Now together we can create and share that will lead us to overcome.......

Anonymous

Posted Apr 12 2012

My question is, why is he not considered to be Jewish, which is what his father is.

Peter A. Webley

Anonymous

Posted Apr 13 2012

Haven't you heard. Everyone in the world has roots traced back to Africa, the motherland.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 23 2012

To the morons in the American community, including La Raza. Hispanics can be White, Black, or Brown (aka Mixed). "Hispanic" is not a synonym for "Brown"! And here is some knowledge for all of you boobs to learn! If a child is born in Anglo America but his parents are from a Hispanic country, then that child ceases to be Hispanic and is instead Anglo! Why not? If Anglo parents move to a Hispanic nation and have children there, then those children cease to be Anglo and are instead Hispanic! Why not? Many Hispanic Latin Americans have origins in nations other than Spain, yet all are considered Hispanic! Just as many Anglo Americans have origins in nations other than Britain, yet all are considered Anglos! Why? Because Black and White are races whereas Hispanic and Anglo are cultures and languages, dummies! That's why!

Anonymous

Posted Apr 23 2012

The democrats are so pissed that Zimmerman is brown and not white.. Raises the question if Zimmerman was attacked for being brown.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 25 2012

Im not sure you are correct here. Trayvon was a known to steal. Jewlery was found in his backpack as well as pocket.. Zimmerman's neighborhood was repeatedly targeted by thieves. Zimmerman was trying to protect his neighborhood.....and Trayvon attacked him.
Actually concluded YOU ARE SO WRONG.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 25 2012

Most hispanics are White....they just want us to think otherwise so the White race remains divided.
And by the way....Trayvon was a known thief....jewelry was found on him as well as in his backpack....Zimmerman was attacked trying to protect his domain.....
I just hope Zimmerman is allowed to have WHITE people on his jury or maybe the judge will throw this out. And by the way I am a German/English White American and this incident has brought to light that HISPANICS are our people too.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2012

Mr LaPrensa writes to appear politically correct, patronizing his readers for a paycheck. I watch strangers in my neighborhood, white, hispanic, or black. What you call profiling is just common sense. I would not expect to be attacked for just following someone and I would definately defend myself. Why do people call Martin a child? He was 6'3" tall, young and very strong. He cowardly attacked a much smaller man. Just because I walk behind you is not a valid reason for you to attack me, no matter where we are. Will you attack me in my local shopping mall for just walking behind you? If so, I will fight back with everything I have. Thats called self defense. Martin's Mother raised a violent child and I feel sorry for her.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 30 2012

The question regarding George Zimmerman's identity continues to confuse many
readers. Bascially it is because journalists acrross the nation have refused to correctly
identify Mr Zimmerman. Obivously, he is of mixed heritage. According to Reuters Service ,Robert Zimmerman, George's father, is identified regliously as a Baptist ( by Chris Francescani Prelude to a Shooting,) Ehtnically, his patermal heritage has not been defined. Historiically, Zimmerman is either a German or Jewish name. Since Robert Zimmerman is Baptist that excludes a Jewish identity. Hence, Geroge Zimmerman should be defined as half Peruvian and German American. He is white . His religion is Catholic Apparently, distinguished journalists have found this task too diffiult to implement.
Let us hope there isn't another sinister agenda to this already tragic story. Should the outcome of this tragedy not be accpetable to the general public, civil unrest could erupt. By
labeling Zimmerman as only Hispanic or white Hispanic and Trayvon as African American,
two groups could possibly find conflict. Hopefully, justice will be served and the nation will
beat the media at their own game and remain peaceful.
LC


Anonymous

Posted Apr 30 2012

The question regarding George Zimmerman's identity continues to confuse many
readers. Bascially it is because journalists acrross the nation have refused to correctly
identify Mr Zimmerman. Obivously, he is of mixed heritage. According to Reuters Service ,Robert Zimmerman, George's father, is identified regliously as a Baptist ( by Chris Francescani Prelude to a Shooting,) Ehtnically, his patermal heritage has not been defined. Historiically, Zimmerman is either a German or Jewish name. Since Robert Zimmerman is Baptist that excludes a Jewish identity. Hence, Geroge Zimmerman should be defined as half Peruvian and German American. He is white . His religion is Catholic Apparently, distinguished journalists have found this task too diffiult to implement.
Let us hope there isn't another sinister agenda to this already tragic story. Should the outcome of this tragedy not be accpetable to the general public, civil unrest could erupt. By
labeling Zimmerman as only Hispanic or white Hispanic and Trayvon as African American,
two groups could possibly find conflict. Hopefully, justice will be served and the nation will
beat the media at their own game and remain peaceful.
LC


Anonymous

Posted May 19 2012

What's done in the dark WILL come to the light. RIP Treyvon.

Anonymous

Posted May 19 2012

What's done in the dark WILL come to the light. RIP Treyvon.

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