Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Definitions of race cloud case of black teen's shooting

Trayvon Martin was black.

George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old who shot and killed the 17-year-old late last month in Sanford, is … what?

He has been described by the many different news organizations covering the case in a variety of different ways: white, Hispanic, white and Hispanic. All true. The most recent assessment from the Associated Press? Police call him white. His family says he's Hispanic. Again, not wrong.

In a written statement to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman's father sought to accentuate his son's Hispanic ethnicity: "George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever."

The first sentence doesn't necessarily lead to the second, of course, but this declaration from the family is important. Why? Quick explainer: "Hispanic" is not a race. It's not an option in the race question in the census. It's an ethnicity question. And the census says you're Hispanic if you say you are.

The Pew Hispanic Center in Washington works the same way. "If you self-identify as Hispanic," associate director Mark Hugo Lopez said Tuesday, "we identify you as Hispanic."

George Zimmerman has a white father and a Hispanic mother. He calls himself Hispanic on his driver's license. He calls himself Hispanic on his voter registration card. He married a white woman.

What does all this mean?

On Tuesday, Elahe Izadi, a public radio reporter in Washington, D.C. who covers race and politics, wrote a blog post called "Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman And Beyond Black And White."

In a phone interview, she made three points worth considering as this story rages forward:

1. "The race of Zimmerman is relevant. The race of Trayvon is relevant."

2. "There's the question of how a person self-identifies. And there's the question of how society identifies you."

3. "Being a person of color doesn't preclude racially profiling someone else."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8751. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelkruse.

Definitions of race cloud case of black teen's shooting 03/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.