Saturday, July 20, 2013

George Zimmerman and His Latino Roots

When I listen to the news and read articles addressing George Zimmerman's race, it amazes me how educated people who should know better get so confused. Some argue that he is White, and others argue that he is not White, but Latino. Even George Zimmerman himself appeared confused; or at least trying to win the sympathy of the non-White public by describing himself as Latino, a fellow minority, and not White. Why can't he be both, considering that White is a color and Latino is a culture?

Based on my own travel experience, and my growing up in a mixed African American and Latino community, I've observed that Latin American people are collectively made up of White, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, and of course, Indigenous. Oops, I forgot to mention Jewish people. George Zimmerman is the son of a Mestizo mother from PerĂº and a White father whose name, Zimmerman, derives from the German last name Zimmermann, which means carpenter. In essence, George Zimmerman is White and half Latino - a no-brainer! 

In terms of racial views, no one is born racist; not even George Zimmerman. Racism generally originates with family and community influences. Even in the Latin American countries I've visited, I've noticed blatant racial discrimination against people of color, particularly against the Indigenous and the Blacks. I remember walking into a bank in Cartagena, Colombia, a city filled with Blacks and Browns, but the bank employees, including the security officer, were so white that I felt that I needed sunglasses to see what I was doing.

Here in the US, I've met Latinos of all colors who mix well with African-Americans having the understanding that, despite language and cultural differences, both communities face similar issues of American racism. Yet, I've met other non-black Latinos who are only prejudiced against African Americans, and not Afro-Latinos. The question that lingers in my mind is do these Latin American immigrants dislike African Americans, in general, or is it just the ghetto types who exhibit all of our negative stereotypes (maybe someone reading this can help me get more clarification). When I'm shopping in Oakland's Spanish-speaking district to practice my Spanish, I can't help but notice how some people warm up to me thinking that I might be Afro-Latino, and not African American. And of course, there are non-Black Latin Americans who dislike all Blacks, regardless of ethnicity.

While African American people, including I, are disturbed over the George Zimmerman case, I'm equally disturbed by the actions of some Black people who are contributing so heavily to the oppression of the African American community? Yes, there are a lot of George Zimmermans out there; some even in police uniforms, but it is mostly Black people who are doing the George Zimmerman dirty work. Where is the outrage, here? When will the African American community wake up and realize that we have enemies within our own borders?

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