Zimmerman, Whiteness and Latinos

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-21 00:05Z by Steven

Zimmerman, Whiteness and Latinos

ABC News/Univision

Leticia Alvarado, Assistant Professor of American Studies
Brown University

Saturday night bore a particularly saturated darkness, tinged by the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal of all charges in connection to the death of not-yet-man-not-quite-child Trayvon Martin. A range of single-word status updates overtook my various social media feeds before I’d had a chance to read any official (or unofficial) news source. I was not surprised, no, but so deeply saddened, angry, afraid.

There have been a number of moving and important pieces calling on us to contemplate how the result of the case was indeed an example of the law working as it was meant to in a country where black men are always considered suspect how it was in fact Trayvon Martin who ended up on trial, both the night he was pursued and shot and yet again in the theater of the courtroom. We have been challenged to think about the relationship between white supremacy and the law and in particular, given the composition of the jury, the historic complicity of white women with “white supremacist patriarchy.”

I must also implore us to use this as an opportunity to speak about the overvaluation of whiteness within the Latino community, over and against blackness, for Zimmerman (of mixed Peruvian and white descent) has shown us the extreme consequence of purchase into this value system…

…In the mainstream media Zimmerman has been variously referred to as white, Hispanic, and white Hispanic. While his surname seems to permit an easy identification with whiteness, Zimmerman is not a man who could pass. Within the black and white binary that often simplistically frames complicated race relations in the US, Zimmerman has nonetheless been squarely aligned with whiteness by virtue of acting in accordance with dominant social and legal strictures that render blackness a crime…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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