Zimmerman: Too Hispanic to be white; too white to be Hispanic!

The inspiration for the title of my article was a chance posting by the Editor/Publisher of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin newspaper, El Conquistador, Victor Huyke, on Facebook. Reading it struck a nerve with me, not only because of the main stream media and many African-American community leaders ignoring of the facts of George Zimmerman’s background in order to use the hot button issue of race as a dimension of the Trayvon Martin shooting, but also for more personal reasons which I will get into later.

The alternative and/or non-traditional media is recent days has revisited what the regular media only touched on briefly during the early days following the shooting. It is reported that George Zimmerman’s father is a WHITE American and his mother is born in Peru which would indicate both Spanish and Native American ancestry since mestizos(mix of Spanish and American Indian) make up a large portion of the population.


The Everyjoe.com website posted a
pictureof Zimmerman’s mother with its story. Both George and his mother on their Florida voter registration cards self-identify as Hispanic while the father identifies as white.

Activists all along the racial/ethnic spectrum have reason to try and paint George Zimmerman and his background in a way which suits their political agendas. Many right-wing Republicans and their supporters want to make Zimmerman as minority as possible to take the wind out of the sails of those who want to portray George Z. as a rabid racist who used the ‘white’ race card to escape punishment for killing an African-American youth; Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and their Liberal and so-calleProgressive friends want to make Zimmerman as white as possible so that they can use him to batter the Right-wing on every issue from gun control to an unjust court/prison system.


Many Hispanic groups don’t want to deal with the question of any Hispanic background for Zimmerman because it draws them into the black-white argument. They want to ignore or have amnesia in this case because it would put them smack in the middle of the clash between the extremes of the racial and political extremes. Also it would call to mind in Florida, past cases of Hispanic officers in the Miami area who were accused of abuse of African-American suspects.


Now, for the personal part of the story. I am a mostly socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Anglo(Irish-German ancestry) male who is the widower of a 1stgeneration Mexican-American woman. I have many friends, relatives by marriage and godchildren who are Hispanic. Up to the time of my move to Sacramento, California in May of this year, I was actively involved in the affairs of the Hispanic community in my hometown of Kenosha and was a very active and vocal member of LULAC Council 320 in the Kenosha/Racine area; I was also a member of the Republican Party of Kenosha County. While for most people in both organizations to which I belonged, I was easily accepted as someone who could walk easily in both worlds and help each try to understand the other. But for some on each side, I was dangerous because I wasn’t a simple stereotype. 

For the media, the ‘inconvenient truths’ of George Zimmerman’s background mean, if discussed fully, the need to seriously address racial issues and not merely, no pun intended, present a black and white story. A discussion which would be more than a quick ten, twenty or thirty second sound bite. A discussion which would mean acting like adults and talking to each other, not merely trying to shout

each other down.

By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity Jeffery Cassity is a mostly socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Anglo male who is involved in his local Hispanic community as the widower of a 1st generation Mexican-American woman and his active, some would say hyperactive, membership in the local Council of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC). Be sure to also follow my articles on the Sacramento Press website
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