Are Latinos Racist? TWLC’s Viviana Hurtado on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin Talks About Trayvon Martin’s Killing

Are only white people racistas?

Do blacks “own” a form of racism: reverse racism?

Is it “ironic” (lamest use of this word I read in the blogosphere) that George Zimmerman, the self-appointed, unauthorized-by-the-subdivision, one-man-neighborhood-watch vigilante who shot and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin, is a “white Hispanic”?


Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Courtesy: WTLC

I don’t even know where to begin debunking such an absurd assumption: that prejudice, stereotypes, and racism don’t exist in Latin American or U.S. Latino cultures.  That if it does, then this condition only afflicts “white” Hispanos, miraculously sparing mestizo, mulatto, darker, lighter, mixed with Asian, indigenous, Jewish, Arab, and everything in between and ¡pssst!  I heard they live in a perpétuo state of blissful harmony.

I don’t know if this use of “ironic” is just poor word choice and gives me pena ajena–this writer is embarassed for a colleague.

Or am I just taken aback by the depth of ignorance expressed in finding irony in the shooter’s ethnicity–the same ignorance that makes static assumptions of who is “racist,” of who supposedly commits–or doesn’t–crimes, that doesn’t know how deep rooted the racial caste system from colonial times remains in Latin America with people believing that “if I have ‘good hair; and if marry ‘light’ to mejorar la raza, I’ll get ahead.”

It’s not just a mindset.  This thinking still rules opportunity for social and economic advancement, as well as political power not just in the ol’ country but here among many U.S. Latinos.

The focus on the “irony” of the killer’s ethnicity also takes it away from the tragedy–a young boy who was shot dead for no other reason than being at the wrong place at the wrong time, because Trayvon was “black” and wearing a hoodie made him “look the part.”

I hope the outrage that kept this story alive and brought it through social media–yet again–to the mainstream–makes us ask, why are we content with record numbers of young men of color not graduating from college, becoming doctores, and starting up businesses, but instead being killed by crazies and more often, by EACH OTHER?

I hope that social trust is restored in the police because they are supposed to protect and serve citizens and that this department is held accountable for violating this social covenant, that a legal and political system that allows “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws has to answer for the whiplash-worthy range of consequences George Zimmerman faces if he is ever arrested and charged: under one, he could be prosecuted for murder, under “Stand Your Ground,” he could walk.

I joined Michel, Danielle Belton of the politics and pop culture blog the Black Snob, and columnists Mary Kate Cary of US World News & Report and Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times in the Beauty Shop segment of NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin which was on fire with talk of Trayvon’s killing, the Illinois primary results, and Sofía Vergara’s accent.

To hear more hot topics on TMM’s “Beauty Shop” with Viviana, Michel, plus smart and sassy ladies, click here.

As our country becomes “browner,” will this demographic shift change how we talk about issues such as racism?



  1. says

    Hi Vivi,

    Love reading your blog, you’ve definitely inspired me. This whole Trayvon Martin incident has me a bit perturbed. First of all George Zimmerman doesn’t sound like a Latino name to me and I only heard Mr. Zimmerman described as “Hispanic” by a family member, after some media commentators and interviewees began portraying the killing as case of “white privilege.” I believe labeling him as Hispanic was designed to generate sympathy for him as a minority group member. A better question is whom does he identify with most?

    Hope you’re well!


    • Demasiado Bustelo says


      Great question: “A better question is whom does he identify with most?” As a Floridian I feel somewhat qualified to answer that question in this particular context. Sanford, which is a suburb of the Orlando area, has a racist past. it may still have a racist present as there are many people who are weirdly racist still living there. This is not hearsay, my brother works in the Orlando area and he has encountered some of these characters.

      I would say by the 911 sound bytes we have heard, the area he lives in and its prevailing history he may very well identify with the majority race in America.
      According to Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center, while testifying at a hearing before the DOJ in Miami, FL, “Trayvon represents the hundreds of thousands of African-American men and boys in Florida who are viewed by our criminal and juvenile justice system as sub-human and disposable.”
      The question we must now ask is; How was George Zimmerman viewing Trayvon Martin? Was he acting based on perceived stereotypes or information he received from his parents?


  2. tomas says

    A White Latino? Everyone was “comfortable” that this was going to be a White on Black incident. That is why there is so much public outcry.
    I have heard from a reporter that Trayvon and Zimmerman were fighting…with Trayvon on top and then Zimmerman on top. I guess neitherone wanted to “back down”.This is turning out to be a Latino vs Black fight just like in the prison systems. And if you are trying to bring Whites into this episode then in the future you will need to refer to Obama as a White Black.

  3. Shepard says

    Nobody calls Obama a White-African-American so its a double standard from the Black community.

    Most biracial people tend to embrace their ethnic heritage and identify with it because they tend to look more like their ethnic parent. Zimmerman identifies himself as “Hispanic” on official documents and he does look more Hispanic than White so I don’t see why critics keep trying to call him “White” and play up the black/white racial tensions in media. Because Zimmerman’s last name is Germanic Jewish in origin, left extremist have even played up the hate against the Jewish community.

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