George Zimmerman is a "White Hispanic" - What Does that Make You?

Amidst all of the hoodie-wearing,the accusations, the posturing and prostelytizing that has gone on during the past couple of weeks over the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, I was intrigued by a passage in a recent New York Times article that referred to Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic."

 George Zimmerman (Courtesy ibtimes.com)

“Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic, told the police that he shot Trayvon in self-defense after an altercation.”  That line comes from a March 22 New York Times news story about a development in the case.

Of course, this mere reference has caused a signifcant amount of consternation and objections from those whom you'd expect - "conservative" media members particularly.  And, while I don't deem myself conservative, in this case I can at least "understand" where they are coming from to some extent.

Fox News contributor Bernard Goldberg described his concern:

"The national media doesn’t do stories on black-on-black crime. . . . They don’t do stories on black-on-white crime. . . . The New York Times, in almost a caricature of a liberal media, refers to George Zimmerman as a ‘white Hispanic.’ I guarantee you that if George Zimmerman did something good — if he finished first in his high school graduating class when he was younger — they wouldn’t refer to him as a white Hispanic, he’d just be a Hispanic. . . . He’s only a ‘white Hispanic’ because they need the word ‘white’ to further the story line, which is, White, probably racist vigilante shoots an unarmed black kid."

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg took offense with the use of the “white Hispanic” term: “It’s the way the blame for Martin’s death belongs squarely at the feet of ‘the system.’ And ‘the system’ is a white thing, don’t you know?”

While these two writers/commentators - Goldberg and Goldberg - may be taking the arguments to their illogical extremes as representatives of their niche in the media, it seems odd that a new way of characterizing a person's ethnicity has now developed in this case.  Have you ever heard anyone referred to as a "white Hispanic" before this?

Eric Wemple of the Washington Post conducted a Nexis search of the use of the term white Hispanic in the New York Times over the past five years.  According to Wemple, the search yielded 112 results, but found that the number is deceptively large.

For example, Wemple found that a great deal of the search found stories like one described here from a March 2007 story on crime in Denver.

Once hailed as the Harlem of the West for its jazz scene, the historic black business enclave and its surroundings have given way to an influx of professionals, most of them white, and Hispanic immigrants.

Or from a March 2008 story on the Democratic presidential primaries:

Clinton advisers said her decisive victory in Ohio and her narrow one in Texas — where exit polls showed her winning the votes of women, whites and Hispanics in an extremely close race . . .

Clearly the "white Hispanic" reference is not something that has been used commonly to refer to someone born of one white and one Hispanic parent.

We know that race and ethnicity have been brought into the arguments on both sides of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story.  For example, would Congressman Bobby Rush (the congressman from the District where I live) wear a hoodie on the floor of Congress if my white son had been shot by a white Hispanic in Chicago while wearing a hoodie?  No.  How about if my black step-son were wearing a hoodie and got shot by a black crack addict in West Englewood?  No.  On the other hand, would Geraldo Rivera have blamed the hoodie in either of my examples?  No to that as well.

Moreover, since race is an issue in this case because the specter of a "hate crime" hangs over the investigation, the characterization of Zimmerman as a white Hispanic is more compelling.  If the New York Times' new description of a mixed race potential defendant in a criminal case persists, the media, sociologists, the legal system and all of the rest of us regular people will have to be taught a completely new way of describing ourselves and each other.

My parents are both white, so does that make me a white white?  Or, in my case, since I'm Jewish and both my parents are as well, am I a white Jew or a Jew Jew?  My wife's father is mixed race and her mother is black, so what does that make her, "white black black?"

And of course, my 8 week-old daughter is no longer mixed race according to the New York Times, I guess she is "black white" or "white black."  (Or, as we like to call her mixture of Russian and black, "Blussian.")

Then, there is the President of the United States, commonly referred to as the first black President.  That moniker would have to be revised if the New York Times were consistent and he would hereafter be known as the first (that we know of) black white or white black President of the United States.

And on and on it will go in this country... To what end?  Does it really matter whether George Zimmerman's father is white or mother is Hispanic?  Does it really matter that both of Trayvon Martin's parents are black?  What if Trayvon's father or mother were white - would there be as much call for justice and would Trayvon indeed be "black" for the purpose of this case?

Here's a novel idea - let's wait for all the facts to play out and see how the justice system operates.  Then, we can draw conclusions as to fairness and equality in this case.  In the meantime, the focus on the color of everyone's skin and what to call people seems to be getting a bit overwrought.

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  • I would like to see an x-ray of Trayvon's body to see the trajectory of the entry wound. If Zimmerman shot the kid out of self defense while under him as he claims now, the bullet would be going up and then bouncing around, but if the bullet entry is straight on or angled down this was no self defense and the guy should be charge with MURDER! The other thing is Zimmerman claims that he was being punched by Trayvon and that his nose was broken. I am sorry but I saw both the video and an enhanced photo on the ABC website and see no blood on him at all. I have seen a few broken noses in my life, including my fathers and there was blood EVERY WHERE! Again you cannot tell me this was self defense! I dated a guy that was 70 lbs heavier then me, Zimmerman was 100 lbs heavier then Trayvon, my bf at the time could flip me off him and pin me down so you cannot tell me that Zimmerman could not flip Trayvon off him and reverse the script! I am not believing for one moment that this was self defense and Zimmerman should be arrested and convicted of murder and show these stupid politicians that they passed a bad law! If someone was being attacked in their house or their vehicle I can see self defense but Zimmerman got out of his car and chased after this kid. If anyone has the right to claim self defense it is the child that lays in the ground dead and buried.

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    In reply to Brandi Wall:

    @Brandi

    Well said and you are 100% correct. A heavier and fit 28 year old can take a lighter 17 year old all day long. This is why sports clubs separate those under 21 from those above 21 in contact sports.

    This case is about outright murder; that bastard killed a minor. Even more interestingly, Zimmerman is mixed race and a more apt description would be "Hispanic-Semite" and one of the most racist and bigoted people on this planet are the Semites from the Russian Caucasus; ask the Palestinians. There is a Trayvon every day in Palestine and those killings are also described as self defense.

  • Opps, guess I should have wrote that on some other post :-( Reading way too many of these stories about Trayvon and the atrocities following the case! My bad :-(

    I do not associate with my skin color unless that is the only option I have. I am Amer-Asian (American and Asian). but to be specific I am Irish/German/Euromutt and half Chinese. Skin color is just how I gauge the amount of time I sit in the sun or what color foundation I need to use. My ethnicity is who I am and who I associate with the most. Religion is not a race, sex is not a race, where your parents parents parents are from is your ethnicity and this is your race. German, Irish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, etc., etc., etc. JMHO!

  • In reply to Brandi Wall:

    Thanks for the comment(s). You may not associate with your skin color, but others do and have it done to them obviously. And, while religion is not a race, it is still considered by many to be a race and ethnicity when you are Jewish or Muslim.

  • 8 week old kid? First, congrats and second, how do you have the energy to write? Nice post.

  • In reply to Bill Gaul:

    Thanks. If I'm awake I might as well do something constructive.

  • Very constructive in deed and thank you Mr. Chatz

    Zimmerman, BTW since nobody brought that up, sounds suspiciously Jewish to me (a white something in Scandinavia). What do we make of that? What does NYT make of that, would he´v been an extremely non-white Hispanic if that wasn´t the case?

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    This is an interesting debate, but I don't think it's quite as confusing as it might seem. In the Latino community, we often use words like "white hispanic", "black hispanic", etc. instead of just Hispanic, since this term alone doesn't represent a race or relate to the color of someone's skin at all.

    Latinos come in many different colors, so many within the community do make these distinctions and it is quite common...in other words, nothing new.

    I do agree with you in this case though, that the news networks have been using the term more for sensationalism than anything. The fact is, that even though he's only half Peruvian, he is still Latino and he visibly appears to be a person of color, so the use of the term "white" doesn't really make sense. I think people have turned to this as a result of all the talk that Zimmerman can't be racist because he's Latino. But instead of making him "white", they should just explain that Latinos can be racist toward African Americans.

    Either way though, being Latino doesn't make him immune from stereotyping another person of color and it's clear that he profiled Trayvon largely based on skin color.

  • Uhm...I'm pretty slow, I guess....but, could someone tell me if a White hispanic is of worse character than lets say a regular white guy....how do these white hispanics folk compare to them joooz that so many people hate...lastly, sorry for my limititations but, is Obama a black white guy or a white black guy and where does this leave his kids...damn, it's all so confusing.

  • The problem of the world is a severe race issue. It's starting to be so ridiculously complex... people feel inferior if they are not white, why? Too much anger exist from self-hate. Everybody wants to act white or be white or something so they can be more acceptable in society cause they are discriminated against if they're not of the kind. Darker people are not accepted so easily in society they 're treated like outcast and stereotyped negatively regardless of their education, it's become competitive. We see the world through binoculars with a projection of european way of life no matter the country, but in reality is it that great to follow these patterns? it's all a big lie. That's why divisions exists because the human race follow these patterns to fit in and it doesn't matter what you look like we discriminate even when we look similar. This so high school and sick. Read history and you'll see who are heros of the planet and how they proceed to win, it's a contradiction and destruction repeats itself. I understand why darker skin people are angry from being oppressed, bullied, abused, harassed, threatened and manipulated from a world that lies for generations. This is the system in various environment which is trying to put out certain people against each other to mess with their psyche and eventually destroy them. That's what TV, history, and even religion manipulate, it's hypnotic... They brain wash minds to do what they want the public to do, in order to control them. Although the term race, branding, ethnicity, social class, and nationality doesn't exist in the creators eyes. Mankind still feels their needs to be distinctions. We have the biggest complex (IDENTITY PROBLEM) about ever becoming dark people, but maybe that was our original color. MJ is my best example I can think of... of trying be something else to be accepted and approved of. Society is never going to accept that we are the same kind because we work obsessing to be different for individuality. I can tell you this... I see people who claim to be white and are really dark because they have been mixed. They are ashamed to admit it and refuse to speak other languages because they feel inferior. I laugh when people talk about race because some of our features are bit different (eyes, hair, skin pigment, blood type from genetics ) but even genes are sometimes that is questionable. Funny some people you see look very similar from other parts of world... The only difference is your last name, religion, country, language, custom, mannerism, foods, social class, tribe, education, and environment... but these things are learned you are not born with it. Bottom line, we are a product of our environments, we are not that different. In this world... this jewish guy as he claim due to last name... can pass as asian, can pass black, can pass native american... anything that's mixed. What's questionable is who said jewish people are white anyway?? Israel is in the middle east which they claim is there's and so many jews migrated from Egypt and that's in Africa. Do jews feel they are white cause they've mixed with germans, poles, and other europeans now? Nationalism, history of lies and bibles of social control has people more confused because we don't question things that don't make sense. We just believe lies and fantasize but in reality we are being screwed with, it's called conquer and divide. So sad we live this way! We need to start asking question who's behind this and why do we continue supporting it??

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    Erie, very well spoken all you have said, the only info i have to include is after the news media had started with the White Latino thing, they sort of recanted are did they by pointing out the fact of zimmerman having had a black black grandfather they even included a picture of the man , so now what does that make him white, black, latina are is it spelled latino?

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