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Racism in Our Gente

Submitted by on March 25, 2012 – 8:42 am3 Comments
Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin

A march of support for Trayvon Martin.

Is it just me, or do you too hold your breath when something horrible, scandalous happens because you’re hoping: “Don’t let him (or her) be Latin!”

Drunk driving deaths, notorious mistresses, mass shootings, suddenly popular reality TV stars.

“Que no sea Latino,’’ I think.

I thought perhaps we had slid past one more bad one when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Of course, he — like me — has an Anglo name and it wasn’t until his family released a statement saying Zimmerman is Latino that that angle came out.

The statement said that because Zimmerman is a minority, he would not have been motivated by racism to shoot.

That one kind of threw me. And apparently, it also threw many others who are questioning that angle in news reports and in social media.

Here is a column by Chantilly Patiño on Fox News Latino asking the question: So, because Zimmerman is Latino he cannot be accused of being

And this round-up of take-aways about the shooting over at Latino Rebels. The last being:

“And yes, America, racism is a part of all this. Wake up. Stop “defending” and “overthinking” and start realizing that unless we don’t start looking as to WHY George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to death, we will never heal or unite as a country.”

It all leads me to want to discuss racism in our community, but really, I don’t. It makes me ill and angry.

I have no idea what George Zimmerman’s motivation was, what was in his heart. It isn’t up to me to judge that. A panel of his peers likely will.

But, we all know that racism — no matter how rainbow-colored our family and friends are — inhabits our community and our culture…both the one we live in, and the one we came from.

The question is, how do we heal it so that innocent young children grow up healthy and happy and safe?

Share, por favor!


  • Carrie, I ask myself the same question every time an individual is involved in a violent, high profile crime. The sad part is this: If the person is a Non-Hispanic White, their ethnicity is not an issue. But if the perpetrator is a minority, it becomes a whole other conversation. Why? Because “white” is the default setting for individuals in the U.S. media.

    When Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, David Berkowitz and Charles Manson were apprehended, did a single pundit suggest it was because they were white? But when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students a Virginia Tech, the media sought comments from South Koreans across the United States as if the whole community was on trial.

    So it is not surprising that the Latino community is now under the microscope. As long as Zimmerman was perceived to be part of the mainstream, he was an individual to be judged on the basis of his character. But once he was identified as a Latino, he became a representative for an entire ethnic group.

    Is every Non-Hispanic White a racist? Of course not. But why would anyone believe every Latino is not? Both assumptions are equally absurd.

    This attitude is so ingrained in our culture, most people fail to even recognize it — and I’m glad to see you discussing this topic. Becoming aware of our unconscious prejudices is the first step in overcoming them.

    • Carrie says:

      Raul, you said it so well. Thank you for always adding such sane and smart words to the conversation.

      I love the description of “white” as default. True!

      I think the Zimmerman case would have certainly had the racial question tied to it, but how strange that what is being brought to light is whether or not he could be a racist because well, he’s a minority, too.

      I shudder to recall some of the conversations had among my own people…so yes, of course, Zimmerman can be a racist – as can anyone.

      I really don’t enjoy the conversation, to be honest. I don’t necessarily want to bring it here, but as a culture we do have a lot of thinking and growing to do about race, for sure.

      Gracias, Raul!

  • Tia Mirtha says:

    The problem with Zimmerman is that he is a
    “Police” wantitbe… It was wrong what he did, the worse part was that he was not arrested…. That’s the problem.
    I don’t think he did it because he is a racist. He is just stupid.

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