Trayvon Martin Case Sparks Racial Debate

    March 21, 2012
    Amanda Crum
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With new details of the Trayvon Martin case emerging every day, speculation as to whether or not the shooting was racially motivated is growing within the African American community.

The incident, which involved self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman following 17-year old Trayvon Martin–who was unarmed and walking home from the store–before confronting him for looking suspicious, led to Zimmerman fatally shooting the boy after a scuffle broke out between the two. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, but a lot of people are wondering if the fact that Martin was African American played a part in it.

Adding fuel to this fiery topic is the fact that Martin’s father, Robert, released a statement last week to the Orlando Sentinel which claimed that Zimmerman is of Hispanic descent and grew up in a multi-racial family.

“He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever …,” the statement reads. “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.”

The statement has raised many questions regarding racism and whether it’s strictly an issue for the white community, as reported on Fox News Latino. Writer Chantilly Pantino expresses concern that certain comments in a recent Breitburt.com article imply just that.

The first paragraph of the article reads:

“The media immediately portrayed the death as a case of white on black racism. CBS News, on its Crimesider website, immediately called Zimmerman a “white neighborhood watch volunteer.” Martin’s parents accused the police of racism for not arresting Zimmerman. There’s only one problem: Zimmerman is Hispanic.”

Pantino explores the assertion that Zimmerman cannot be racist because he is Hispanic:

“…Are we to believe then, that he can’t be racist because he’s not white? Is prejudice and discrimination restricted only to those who are direct European descendants?”

There have been many reports over the years of suspected Hispanic/African American hate crimes, including one involving the 2006 death of a 14-year old girl in Los Angeles, which adds more weight to the argument that perhaps the fact that Zimmerman is Hispanic doesn’t excuse him from possibly being racist.

And there are other avenues of thought to consider, such as why Zimmerman continued his pursuit of Martin despite a warning from police to leave him alone.

This is certainly not an issue that will go away anytime soon, and the debate that has been raised will more than likely draw out for many years with no easy answer. The general public has flooded social media sites with their opinions and will continue to do so as the investigation into the shooting goes on.

People are trying so hard to paint George Zimmerman as a racist that they’re forgetting to paint him as a murderer(image) 12 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Giving george zimmerman the benefit of the doubt, and assuming he is not a racist does not mean he did not kill trayvon because he was black(image) 56 minutes ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

George Zimmerman (the murderer of Treyvon Martin) was NOT a police officer. He was a racist pseudo vigilante that murdered an innocent kid.(image) 18 hours ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

I figured George Zimmerman was Latino but just bc he is doesn’t mean he isn’t racist. Lord knows a lot of Latinos are racist against blacks.(image) 5 days ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM8gkKlqor4 Santiago Cosgrove

    Latino-on-black racism is sadly something the Hispanic community in this country tries to shed, but UNIVISON, by far the USA’s biggest Spanish language network, has forever perpetuated the Mexican attitude toward black people being stereotypes such as thieves, rapists, monkeys, and all that. It manifests itself in ‘entertainment shows’ which an example is below, that encapsules the above mentioned stereotypes. Get this network to apologize and change their crap, please! Pass this on.


  • Kate


    George Zimmerman discovered to be part Hispanic. So what? My reactions are based on many actions in the Hispanic (Latino, Latin American, etc.) community and direct observations in the realm of identity politics. I am an “African American” woman, who visually has a lot in common with the mestizaje or “mixed race” members of the various Hispanic communities.

    To make the point finer: When I lived in the SF/Bay Area in the 1970s, there were fewer Latinos than today in the general population. Latinos would greet me with “¿Cómo está?” — a more formal and yet distancing greeting. I was still perceived as Other or a good Afro sister, but friendly. (A point: Latino is aggregate. A Mexicano, is not a Cubano, is not a Puertorriqueño, and is not a Salvadoreña.

    Years later, the number of Latinos with various colors and hues overlapped with those of African Americans. The greetings changed to “hola,” and a wave, an indication of group inclusion until it was learned that I was not a Latina, Spanish speaking or no. Eventually, the number of Latinos soared. The greetings were sometimes interspersed with “Hola, hermana” or “Hi, sister.” We, lighter-skinned African Americans and Latinas, had begun, except for language, to “look alike”. Rarely, did I observe or hear about the same greeting used with darker African Americans. In most Latin-American countries, the darker people are called Negros and Zambos and are discriminated against and avoided.

    In both the U.S. and most of Latin America what sets people apart is the proverbial color line. Not the color line that DuBois referred to when comparing Blacks (or Negroes) versus White, but the intragroup “light versus dark” color line. The terms, “mulatto” (a Spanish term) dredges up the comparisons drawn between the privileges of “field Negroes” (dark and few) and “house Negroes” (mulatto or light and greater). Those differences are the same as found in the Latino communities with caste terms, such as, morenos (browns), or zambos (Indian and Black) versus blancos (White or European).

    Today, lighter-skinned Latinos often identify racially as “White” and ethnically “of color”. In short, it’s an identity two-way street. When benefits are distributed (especially those to assuage injustice and discrimination toward African Americans) or they are in legal trouble many Latinos want to be considered “minorities”. But for the privileges, these same Latinos check “White” on the forms for racial identity, much like the Italians, Sicilians and Irish learned to do in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Comedian Richard Pryor used to do a skit whereby he said: The first word immigrants learn when they get “off the boat,” is N—-r.
    Supposedly, George Zimmerman was of Peruvian (mother) and White (father) descent. Many would say, “Peruvian? WTH is Peru?” Yet, Peru, and its Slave Trade should not be left out. Enslaved Africans brought directly to Peru were designated bozales (“unskilled, untrained). Peru’s pigmentocracy hierarchy was: Spaniards at the top, mestizos in the middle, and Africans and the indigenous populations at the bottom. As New York writer and activist Michaela Angela Davis says, “George Zimmerman’s Hispanic roots don’t give him cover.”

    It is intriguing that in the midst of trouble and a possible arrest for murder, George Zimmerman’s father would play the card, “we’re just another minority group called Hispanic.” “Some of our best friends are…” Obviously, George Zimmerman had an overactive and live, “wanna-be-a-White-Boy-so-bad-complex” which led to him to carry a gun, be a “badass” and look to shoot one of “those people” (why else carry a gun and follow Black people).

    Hispanics’ identity choices and the downstream consequences should and must be explored before Hispanics choose the route that so many light-skinned marginalized immigrants have taken before their entry into the American culture. The title of books tells the history: “How the Irish Became White” [Ignatiev] (and “How Jews became White Folks” [Brodkin] and “How the Asians Became White” [Volokh].
    While it will take some time to drill down into the forensics of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I can say with all confidence, “Playing the Hispanic card doesn’t mitigate murder.” ” “El asesinato es un asesinato.” ¿Entiende usted que?

    Kathleen Rand Reed
    Applied Anthropology
    The Rand Reed Group
    Washington, DC and Portland, OR