Why is George Zimmerman being half-white so important if he self-identifies as Hispanic? (self.socialjustice101)

socialjustice101

10 ups - 0 downs = 10 votes

NOTE: Posting this here, as I originally posted to /r/SRSDiscussion and was redirected here.

In looking at a lot of discussion, I see a lot of talk on the Zimmerman case about how a white man got away with murdering a black man. This discussion isn't revolving around the verdict: I'm not here to defend or condemn him. However, I do notice a lot of people referring to him as a white man.

His mother was Hispanic: he identified as Hispanic on his voter registration forms. It seems to me somewhat disingenuous to keep referring to him as a white man given the self identification.

Am I missing something? Is his half-whiteness so different from someone like Obama, who is half white, but self identifies as black, and most people accept it. (Yes, there are obviously some Obama detractors who refer to him as white. However, they hardly constitute a proportion similar to what I'm seeing with Zimmerman.)? Or is it just the circumstances that lead people to stress this particular aspect of him?

20 comments submitted at 00:35:02 on Jul 16, 2013 by SenorPancake

  • [-]
  • dialetheias
  • -5 Points
  • 01:55:27, 16 July

From a social justice perspective, the perpetrator is always white and the victim non-white. If Zimmerman had been the victim of the crime, then he would no longer be white, but rather Latino. Race is contextual, based on whether you are the oppressor or oppressed.

  • [-]
  • SenorPancake
  • 4 Points
  • 02:55:13, 16 July

This doesn't seem to make sense to me.

How is it that a self-identifying Hispanic man is white, because the victim is non-white? Or that he would be Latino if he were the victim?

Why is it that this must be framed as a white man and a black man - when it can be more accurately described as a Hispanic man and a black man?

  • [-]
  • gaypher
  • 6 Points
  • 04:00:48, 16 July

the crux of the matter is that z's crime was distinctly anti-black and only could have occurred in a culture of white supremacy. because he was functioning as an agent of white supremacy, it's more fitting to call him white than hispanic under the circumstances. he is no less a latino man, ethnically, for having racially profiled and killed martin, but his actions were the direct result of his acclimation to white norms and white, anti-poc society.

  • [-]
  • TheFunDontStop
  • 5 Points
  • 04:52:35, 16 July

this makes no sense. someone's race doesn't magically change because they commit a racially-motivated crime against a minority.

  • [-]
  • gaypher
  • 2 Points
  • 04:59:13, 16 July

race as a social construct is malleable. it's distinct from race as a physical trait.

  • [-]
  • TheFunDontStop
  • 3 Points
  • 05:02:07, 16 July

yes, but i don't think it makes sense to call him "white" just because he committed an anti-black crime. for one thing, it's kind of erasing all the other races and ethnicities in the us and boiling everything down to the narrative of "white vs black". if you'll pardon the egregious pun, i think that's a little too black and white.

  • [-]
  • dialetheias
  • 2 Points
  • 06:35:45, 16 July

We're not saying that it is problematic for Zimmerman to self-identify as Latino. He is certainly entitled to his heritage. But by profiling and killing Trayvon, he chose to identify as white. He acted as an arm of the white power structure, so that is why we are emphasizing his whiteness in this case.

  • [-]
  • TheFunDontStop
  • 3 Points
  • 15:59:06, 16 July

> We're not saying that it is problematic for Zimmerman to self-identify as Latino. He is certainly entitled to his heritage.

you misunderstood my point. i never said it was problematic for zimmerman to identify as latino, i said it was problematic for you to identify him as white, because you're implicitly erasing every other ethnicity.

my main point of contention is that this:

> He acted as an arm of the white power structure

, which i agree with, is very different from this:

> But by profiling and killing Trayvon, he chose to identify as white.

zimmerman happened to be half-white, but what if he were 100% hispanic? or asian, or black, or some other mixture, would you still say that he was white because he killed a black teen?

you're mixing in metaphors and talking about race in a very metaphorical way as though it were on a much more literal level, which i think is misleading and essentially illogical. it's like saying that a gay person who uses the word f----t is actually straight, because they're reinforcing homophobic power structures in society. the latter half of that sentence is true, but the former is nonsensical.

  • [-]
  • TheFunDontStop
  • 3 Points
  • 04:51:02, 16 July

..... what? i'm sorry, but this makes no sense. anyone who perpetrates a crime is white? and "white" and "black" as "privileged" and "oppressed" does not always work world-wide, that's very us-centric thinking. this post seems pretty incoherent to me.

  • [-]
  • blarghargh2
  • 0 Points
  • 12:28:46, 16 July

> that's very us-centric thinking.

pretty sure zimmerman killed martin in the us...

  • [-]
  • TheFunDontStop
  • 3 Points
  • 16:00:32, 16 July

fair point, but this was phrased in a very broad, generalized way:

> From a social justice perspective, the perpetrator is always white and the victim non-white.

  • [-]
  • sheenobu
  • 1 Points
  • 17:21:50, 16 July

This thread got ugly. I apologize if I started something. For what it's worth, I get your point and agree with as much as I understand so far.