Connect With Us

FacebookTwitterRSSYoutube

How Can Anyone Be A “White Hispanic”?

Ricardo Montalban

So, what is a “white Hispanic”? It seems to be a term most Americans can’t wrap their heads around, and no wonder. They have no clue what an Hispanic or Latino is to begin with.

Most of us think of race as comprising one of three groups – to use the colloquial terms, white, black and Asian. But within those three broad categories are dozens of, pardon the term, sub-species. Human beings are similar to any other animal on the planet. There are felines, and within that designation of feline, there are big cats, medium cats and small cats. And within those small cats there are American Shorthairs and Persians. Humans are the same way.

Native Americans are racial Asians, sub-species Amerind. There are even sub-species within those sub-species. But, for Latin Americans, that is the starting point.

Along came those Spanish conquistadors and their very small armies. They conquered Latin America, but never colonized it to the extent that the English, French and Germans colonized North America. The actual termination of colonial rule was not nearly as important as the absence of mass immigration. The United States and Canada attracted Europeans who were disenfranchised at home, either through religious affiliation or the hereditary class structure. Latin America, which was still under Spanish and Portugese rule for decades after America became liberated, did not attract groups of Europeans who didn’t want to trade what they had known in Europe for the same structure on a strange continent, and one that was so totally different in climate and environment. There were only two things the conquerors were very good at – imposing Catholicism and the Spanish and Portugese languages.

There was a separate immigration to Latin America and the Caribbean, from Africa. Because the native populations of the Caribbean Islands were decimated by conquest and disease and the natives of Brazil were really good at disappearing, the Europeans brought in Africa slaves to work their plantations

There were basically two classes of Spaniards and Portugese who came to Latin America – the upper class who were the leaders of the military and the government, and the lower class who were the foot soldiers. The foot soldiers were not provided with wives from their native land, as the French soldiers in Canada were, so they married Native women and created a whole middle racial group – the mestizos or mix-bloods. Eventually, they became the base of the middle class. The Spanish upper class remained in that position right up through the beginning of the twentieth century, when the middle class rose to political power. The Mexican Civil War was fought on these racial lines.

There was another element to life south of the Rio Grande that most North Americans don’t know about. National borders were ignored to a large extent, treated as what they are – man-made lines of political jurisdiction having no relationship to real life. They were useful for tax collectors, but did not control where people lived to any great degree. If you were a Chilean ambassador who decided to retire to the Dominican Republic, as my grandmother’s uncle was, no one questioned it.

There are some sub-species, ethnic divisions on the Iberian peninsula that need to be explained as well. Iberia has a long history of conquest and occupation. The final result was a literal division of the peninsula into areas where the majority population reflected an invading group. Along the western sea coast, Portugal and the old Spanish province of Galicia were the Celt-Iberians, some of whom were the last great Celtic invaders of Ireland in pre-Christian times. The rest of northern Spain was dominated by the Germanic tribes who invaded around the third century C.E. In the center and south were the remnants of the Phoenicians, Romans and Moors. Celt-Iberians look Irish, the way my grandparents did – fair skinned, light eyed, blonde and red-headed. The Gothic-Spanish look German, blonde and blue-eyed. England’s Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was half Celt-Iberian and half Gothic-Spanish, and a red-head. Everyone else pretty much looks like what Americans think of when they think of Spaniards – like Antonio Banderas. And in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France there are the Basques, a whole other ethnic and language group.

Have you got all that? You need to, because, surprise!, understanding those divisions is essential to understanding the basic racism that exists in Latin America. Latin Americans are just as prone to racism as North Americans. The Spanish and Portugese brought along their internal bigotries, and then layered the native population and mestizos below that.

So, a white Hispanic is any person who was born in Latin America or is descended from Latin Americans but is of pure European heritage. John Wayne’s first wife was a white Panamanian. My grandparents were white Chilean and Puerto Rican.

The late Ricardo Montalban was a white Mexican. Most people remember him from Fantasy Island or from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, but he was at the center of one of the few temper tantrums my father ever threw about the perceptions of North Americans toward Latin Americans.

Ricardo Montalban and Lena Horne, "Jamaica" 1957

In 1957, Montalban opened on Broadway in the musical Jamaica, starring opposite Lena Horne. There was some reaction to the casting, but it was low-key and mostly confined to hate mail that Montalban personally received. Five years later, Richard Kiley was cast opposite Diahann Carroll in No Strings. All hell broke loose. The press was filled with both opposition and support for the casting of a white man and a black woman as romantic leads. Dad’s tantrum included the words “What the hell do people think Montalban is?” He wasn’t too thrilled with the movie Anne of a Thousand Days either, because the producer cast Greek actress Irene Papas as Katherine of Aragon, going with the stereotype that all Spaniards are dark and ignoring the fact that Katherine was a red-head. It wasn’t that my Dad was a bigot, in fact he was one of the most color-blind people I ever knew. He just objected to Americans not understanding that Latin Americans are as diverse as North Americans. He truly felt that the casting of Ricardo Montalban opposite Lena Horne should have infuriated racists as much as the casting of Richard Kiley against Diahann Carroll.

Robert Beltran as Chakotay

On the other end of the entertainment industry stupid range was the reaction when Robert Beltran was cast as a Native American on Star Trek: Voyager. Native Americans objected, saying that the role of Chakotay should have gone to a Native American. Beltran’s response was priceless – “Mexicans are Native Americans,” followed by a few choice words about the intelligence level and education of North Americans. It’s a weird twist on bigotry, how the Native Americans of the United States have a hard time understanding that the border between Mexico and the U. S. cut through the territories of eleven different native tribes.

The press has labeled George Zimmerman a “white Hispanic.” It is a misnomer. His mother is Peruvian, but we have no idea where she fits on the Latin American spectrum of ethnic and racial identities. His father is Jewish. He was born in the United States Zimmerman should not be labeled as any particular race. The use of the term “white Hispanic” by the press in the Zimmerman-Martin case is an attempt to fit it neatly into the racial context of a hate crime. But the case should be giving us an opportunity to look at the nature of multi-ethnic and multi-racial identity, especially in the minority communities. When Alex Haley traveled to Africa to find the last links to his ancestor Kunta Kinte, he was surprised by how much darker true Africans are than African-Americans. He should not have been. He knew how many white ancestors he had. Racial identity can be, especially in the Western Hemisphere, as much a matter of self-identification as of actual genetics.

There was an episode of the old TV series Hill Street Blues in which Lt. Ray Calletano (played by Nicaraguan René Enríquez) is receiving an award. Instead of meekly thanking everyone, Calletano rips the proceedings apart, railing against the bigotry evident in the Mexican food being served because the white Americans don’t know Tierra del Fuego from the Isthmus of Panama. I was reminded of it when my boss, who is Puerto Rican, started talking about Thanksgiving. My grandfather may have been born on that island, but I was not raised in its culture. My grandmother, though born in Chile, was raised in England. My childhood was a mixture of cultural influences from England, Germany, German Judaism (Dad’s foster parents) and Italy (Mom’s aunt married one and gave birth to too many cousins to count).

Nothing has changed since 1986. Latin America, not including the Caribbean Islands, is a land mass only 642,322 square miles less than the United States and Canada, and has a population 158.6 million people larger than the U.S. and Canada combined. Calling everyone from that region “Hispanic” or “Latino” is wrong. We are not one color, one race, one ethnicity. We are as diverse as the residents of the United States and Canada. The one huge difference is that the Native Americans south of the Rio Grande didn’t end up on reservations. The vast majority of people living in the United States and Canada speak English. That doesn’t make us all English. The majority of the people south of the Rio Grande speak Spanish. That doesn’t make them Spanish. It is time we started understanding that.

Comments

comments

Share This Post

25 Responses to How Can Anyone Be A “White Hispanic”?

  1. Tiffany

    November 22, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I’m embarrassed to say it but i never really paid attention until I started dating my girlfriend who is a White Hispanic woman. As a Black woman who gets easily annoyed when I’m referred to as an African-American (because it disregards other major, and frankly obvious, aspects of my heritage) it’s been a humbling and enlightening experience.

  2. Rosario

    November 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    You really have to go back in time to understand the origin of the term Hispanic as used in USA parlance. It comes primarily from advocacy by the Puerto Rican community. If you look at any U.S. census before 1960, you will not find Hispanic. People of Puerto Rican origin were simply identified as white or black. Mexicans were generally identified white or American Indian. Cubans, white or black. Spaniards, or course, always white. And so forth. The Puerto Rican community, the largest of these groups, advocated for Hispanic classification since many folks were of mixed race and identification in the white/black binary was not to their liking. Over the years, of course, the population falling under the “Hispanic” umbrella has expanded and it’s extremely diverse. There is a tremendous amount of diversity in Latin America. And, it’s actually kind of ironic that Hispanic cultural identity is so largely European, at the expense of the indigenous American identities. One would have a hard time imagining members of any number of Native American tribes here in the States being proud of their Anglo-Saxon heritage. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the most European places in the Americas are in South America: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and places in the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico. Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, etc. feel much more comfortable in these countries than in the USA (my experience included), while British, Irish, German, etc. feel more at home culturally in the USA. While much of the blog post is informative, it is not accurate to suggest that there was not immigration from Europe to South America. There was a lot. Places such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, etc. received millions of immigrants from Europe, not to mention immigration from Asia, Middle East, and slaves from Africa. Finally, for whatever it’s worth the US government does not consider Hispanic a race. They only acknowledge four races: white, black, Asian, and Native American. But, the media and common parlance has us thinking that it is a race and that Hispanic only extends to those with Spanish surnames (when it does not) and that all with Spanish surnames are not white (when most are) and that Spanish culture is somehow non-white (when in fact it is completely and utterly European). But, all this will pass. In 1920, people spoke of many races, Alpine, Mediterranean, Mongoloid, etc. Now, not so much. We are more diverse, but in many ways actually less diverse.

  3. TonyE

    October 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m a Catalan.

    Born in Barcelona.

    My family (going back SIX generations) is roughly 1/2 Catalan, 1/4 from Pamplona (Navarra) and a 1/4 from Murcia.

    That makes me a Visigoth with a touch of Roman. Nowhere do we have gipsy (vandal) nor moorish blood.

    Now, if that ain’t WHITE, I’m gonna grab my long sword, cap, mail and shield (yep, the one with the Catalan flag that we got from Charlemagne), get on my war horse and cut off you head.

    I’ll do it the way my forebears were doing while the Northern and Eastern Europeans were grubbing sweet potatoes off their Master’s land to survive.

    Them term “Hispanic” is the STUPIDEST thing I ever heard. I’m sure the Italians and Germans in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are amused (NOT) at that.

    As if all those mixed raced North American “whites” that claim Cherokee ancestry.. or, Sacre Bleu, an immmigrant from Perpignan (which is Catalan BTW) would be whiter than me.

    Nothing like the racial idiocy of the Anglos in NA.

    Tony

    • TonyE

      October 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Oh, I should note too…

      We have the best futbol team in the world… Barça is that good. And then España went on and beat Italia to get the FIFA World Cup.

      So, I think this whole “hispanic” thing was a fact that Nixon realized that the Spanish Liga was getting too good and the US “soccer” team could barely beat Mejico (*), a national team which at best would be in the 2nd division in La Liga.

      So, come census, I laugh my head off and write myself as the most confusing stuff you can imagine… white, hispanic, catalan. My wife is Okinawan, so you can imagine the fun there.

      My kids… hell, we go through a whole pencil just filling the census with them.

      (*) How do you like that, huh? A little bit of the Castilian there. Yeth?

  4. chris

    October 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    ‘Hispanic’ is not a race, it is a made up word mostly. You can be of mixed race, black, white, or asian, but there is no being ‘hispanic.’ Doesn’t exist.

  5. Daniel

    September 2, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Hi
    While this is true for most of hispanic America this isn’t completely true for Brazil(portuguese america)
    After most of brazilian natives “disappeared” they brought black slaves. True.
    Then after slavery was abolished they brought LOTS of european immigrants, especially from Italy and Germany(you don’t get more white than germany).
    They also brought millions of Japanese.
    In general there are few mestizos in Brazil, half of the population is Black and the other is really white, and not even like Antonio Banderas, more like Giselle Bundchen.

    • a true White Hispanic

      October 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

      You are living in fantasy land. If one visits Northern Brazil or Bahia you will see the mestizos or mulattoes. 50% white like Giselle is not true. Get real. That may only happen in Florianopolis or Curitiba.

      Brazilians, like many other latin american countries, have to get over the idea of “whitening” their base. Brazil had a program to whiten society many years ago.

      Be honest. Latin American countries are culturally and racially rich. Dont marginalize the natives or those of mixed race.

  6. Chilean WH Guy

    September 2, 2012 at 6:20 am

    White Hispanic are just people with an extra % of european blood, compared to the average in the region.
    The line between white and hispanic varies with the country. In South America, for example, a random WH person might be called ‘white’ in Peru or Ecuador, and ‘hispanic’ in Argentina, Canada or Chile.

    I’m 5’11″ and have clear skin. My ethnicity is 80/20 white/amerindian like half chileans (the other half has the rates reversed), though I’d prefer to identify myself as ‘hispanic’ or just plain ‘Chilean’, because in my country we only call ‘white’ to northern europeans (nordic, slavic), white americans or ashkenazi (blond) jews.

  7. Alex Garcia

    August 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I have read the the majority of people living in Latin America including Mexico through DNA testing are more European then indigenous since 90 percent of the the indigenous population were killed off by wars and disease by way of the Spaniards

  8. Manolo

    July 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    This is a good article, but I think you forgot to mention the part that many Latin American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela, ect. were countries that European immigrants in post colonial times immigrated to and settled in, to the point that more immigrants came to Latin America from Europe than they did to the entire United States, specifically to those countries mentioned. Most came from Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, France, Austria, Switzerland, other parts of Eastern Europe, even Ireland and Wales in addition to Spain and Portugal. Some people seem to think that white migration to the region ended in colonial times and that most of the people who are white are actually mixed race, but in certain areas of Latin America they’re no more mixed race than white Americans or even less so.

    And to the Ecuadorian poster, maybe not in Ecuador but in my country which has a large white population and a large afro descendant population, the term white is frequently used and so are the terms black and mulatto as identifiers.

  9. Jo

    May 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I can totally identify with this whole “white privilege” thing…and I happen to be from Puerto Rico (currently living in Texas). I look more Eastern European/Middle Eastern; my facial features look very much from that area, and I happen to have lighter skin. I had been told that I do not look Puerto Rican by several people in the stateside. Plus, I had work with lots of Slav women…they all though I was Slav too and they are used to see people who look like them, so all they relied on were my facial features. Ah, if I go to a place where lots of other Latin American people are gathered, they look me with a weird face until I say something in Spanish, and even with that they don’t believe me when I say I’m from PR.

  10. Thank You For Posting

    April 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I’m glad to hear this from an “Hispanic” person. I’ve said for a long time that President Nixon’s addition of the ‘ethnic’ term Hispanic into the racial categories was confusing and politically motivated. Hispanic has literally no meaning except for being born to a New World culture that speaks Spanish. That makes it completely transient, unlike ‘race’ such as Caucasian, Oriental, African, Native American (north & south) – characteristics which a person is born with regardless of geography or language they speak.

    The vast majority of the people we call “Hispanic” are AmerIndian (whatever you want to call it – the Native peoples here in N & S America pre-Columbus) in much higher concentrations than United States tribal Native Americans (most in USA are only 12% Native). By identifying these people by the term “Hispanic” or by their Caucasian ancestry (small %) the AmerIndian/Native American heritage is being wiped.

    Yes, some people who are born in New World Spanish speaking countries are Caucasian, and whether they speak Spanish or not they are Caucasian. Some are Black (Dominican, Cuban, etc) and whether they speak Spanish or English (Jamaica) or French (Haiti) they are still mostly African racially. Some can even be a full-blooded Japanese (Alberto Fujimoroi) and be a “Hispanic” just by virtue of being born in a Spanish speaking New World country? It is SO confusing of a term, and essentially meaningless. Eventually, if all of North America adopts Spanish as the language, we can all be Hispanic. When choosing ‘race’ category to self-identify, Native American or AmerIndian is what most “Hispanics” are, but a Hispanic truly can be anything.

    • Rosario

      November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Yes, calling everyone from a Spanish speaking country in Latin America a Latino or Hispanic is like calling everyone from the United States an Anglo or Anglo-Saxon. It would be nice to see African Americans, indigenous peoples, Arab Americans, Italian Americans, etc. calling themselves Anglo-Saxons. Somehow, I don’t think that would every happen. You also bring up the most important point: identification with these broad categories such as Hispanic comes at the expense of the hundreds, if not thousands of indigenous cultures and languages in South America that are dying out as a result of Spanish (i.e. European) dominance. Same thing in the US, a Polish American, for example, who chooses a white identity does so at the expense of his Polish culture, because white identity is English.

  11. jm morisseau

    April 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I should add that my French name and many names starting with “MOR” are derived from, in older times, the word Moor. I am pretty light skinned and a quarter Swedish, but in the summer I tan dark enough to be thought blacks from a distance. We mix up race and religion and ethnicity too easily there are black Jews, white Hispanics, probably pink Eskimos too. This sort of shooting still comes down to perceptions of class and power.

  12. jm morisseau

    April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    The guy’s name is Zimmerman, it would be just as easy to avoid racial overtones by calling him a Jew, wouldn’t it? The point is that blacks are still targeted by those who consider themselves members of the white ruling class, which is obviously how Zimmerman viewed himself. It is as a much a matter of class perception as it is race.

  13. enjoying the show

    March 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Setton,

    You’ll have to forgive an unrepentant old fashioned socialist for dissing identity politics. I think many folks don’t realize how the Corporatist Centrist elites make use of identity politics to obfuscate issues surrounding class. This cynic thinks it is done for economic reasons. The old planters took a very different approach, but motivated by similar goals, and made use of racial solidarity to distract attention away from class. It took the planters about 100 years for the propaganda to sink in by 1800 roughly. Or contemporary elites are much better at this game, so it only took a generation or so.

    Granted, the Mainstream Right is hopelessly ignorant on this issue; I doubt many realize Nixon made Affirmative Action law, and it wasn’t because a posse of Black Panthers forced him to. Their political shepherds make sure they don’t talk about that.

    In terms of race, I’ll even concede to folks, who want to call Zimmerman white, that if Zimmerman was from the old, cultural US South, not the suburban sunbelt, in some places he might have been considered “white.” There is an iffy zone for whiteness in the South, thanks to the absorption of Black and Native American ancestry in some areas. That said, I had to kind of go back and think about this point, this was not my initial reaction, so I still contend Zimmerman doesn’t benefit from white privilege, and I’ve often heard people compare those mestizo-looking white Southerners to Mexicans. It’s all contextual. So change Zimmerman’s name to Billy Ray McCoy and put him in Eastern TN, and yeah he might pass as white, although even there people will think he’s got N. American ancestry. But, otherwise, in general, a guy with a phenotype like that in FL, TX, CA, DC and many other places is going to be labeled Hispanic.

  14. Meghan

    March 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    There is only one species. We are human with varying levels of color pigmentation in our skins. Due to genetic isolation many genes stayed in certain areas leaving groups of human with different sub groups of genes most prevalent not different species. For example people with an African ethnicity are more likely to have a flatter nose but anyone from any skin pigmentation can have a flatter nose. Doesn’t mean that they also have an African ancestry. (Of course we all came from Africa) A biological species means a new genetic species will be born due to mating. When someone with darker skin pigmentation mates with someone with lighter skin pigmentation they are still human with tan skin pigmentation. No new species so no separate species to begin with.

    • TheTRUTH

      August 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Meghan, you’re a typical libtard. There’s only one species you say? Nice feel-good statement. Now try, for example, going to an all-black school (or people with very, very dark skin as I think you’d like to refer to it) and see if they see a White female like you (I know you’re a White liberal) as being one race with them. After you come home crying from getting your head-in-the-sand mentality knocked around, you will surely wake up. Then again, you’re a liberal so you’ll deny it had anything to do with race since people like you think blacks are the only victims and that blacks can’t be racist.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      August 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we shall resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction”

      Humans are all one species. It sounds like the person who needs an education is you. I only let your comment through in order to show your racism to the world.

  15. Tatterdemalian

    March 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I’m pretty sure the main issue is that nobody ever used the phrase “white hispanic” until the media needed it to try to incite a race war over the Trayvon Martin shooting. Before then they were called “mulattos” or “mestizos,” if they were even considered distinct from non-white hispanics.

  16. Setton

    March 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    And yet, the term “white” is still very American. Most people I know back home would never call themselves “blanco”. Maybe criollo. Perhaps other names used in other countries?

    Many Latinos have white privilege, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are completely European, and that needs to be understood by Americans. My friend who is half Aymara and half German, is blond and blue eyed, and has white privilege. And yet, her mother is Aymara.

    Same goes for my other friend, who is Lebanese, immigrated to Ecuador as a child, and yet her being Ecuadorian is never questioned because she could be mestiza, while my friends who are in fact Ecuadorian but blond, and another who is Black, are constantly asked, “but really, where are you from?” here in the U.S.

    Americans love to assume that they can tell what someones ethnic and racial background is just by looking at them, and we Latinos flip that assumption on it’s head. It scares the hell out of them.

    • Enjoying the show

      March 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      And setton with the sermon.

      @setton
      “Americans love to assume that they can tell what someones ethnic and racial background is just by looking at them”

      That’s a universal. I’ve been in 5 continents, and people do that everywhere, including in Latin American countries I’d imagine- otherwise why the convoluted racial categorization one sees in those countries. You can say it is recognizing diversity, perhaps, it also involved, I’d imagine, from time to time assuming “that they can tell what someones ethnic and racial background is just by looking at them.” Not in Latin America, but elsewhere, in places where everyone has the same skin color, they tend to focus on facial features.

      Only in the US and Western Europe do neurotic people practice self-flagellation for doing this sort of categorization. If Setton would lecture many an American on this topic, they would nod and say “yes, we do that” and think to themselves “we are so bad.” Mention this to an Arab, a Chinese person, or a Russian, who hasn’t been influenced by Western academics, and they’ll shrug their shoulders and look at you like you are an idiot. I’ve witnessed the inability of contemporary Western social conceits to translate.

      It’s awful, shocking, I tell you. Take it from someone who got asked a lot about his ethnicity. Americans are supposed to be big and blonde; as I am not, folks opted for the other default and assumed I was Jewish. I tried to convince folks, not always successfully, that my forebears had been Protestant.

      I’ve seen some, not many, folks who look sort of like Zimmerman, and who were not Latinos. They were of Central Asian, Anatolian Turkish, or Muslim South Asian origin. Long story, but there is a reason why that coincidence has occurred- take European featured people, Middle-Eastern featured folks, and Siberians, mix well for generations.

      That said, there is a distinct mestizo look and Zimmerman has it. My unenlightened reaction when I first saw his picture, before being told that he was Hispanic, was ‘this guy ain’t white, he kinda looks Mexican.’

      Both photos made public of him show him to be a very classically mestizo looking person, and there is a distinct mestizo look. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, and a lot of range within the huge, diverse demographic called Latino, but let’s not loose sight of the forest by focusing too much on the trees.

      Zimmerman does not have the physical features necessary to benefit from white privilege, which is decreasing in its efficacy in any event. Don’t confuse white privilege with class, people with white privilege invariably are RICH or UPPER MIDDLE CLASS white people with privilege. Go talk to poorer whites about how the cops treat ‘em.

  17. Enjoying the show

    March 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Anyone can be a “white Hispanic” if the press, smelling a good story that fits into preconceived narratives, jumped the gun and made it about race. The story was meant to be white vigilante kills black youth; nice and tidy, let’s wrap it up and head home for supper.

    Problem was Zimmerman was Hispanic, and I’m betting, based on his physical appearance, some of his maternal ancestors were Los Indios. So now the press has to do damage control. How to keep the white racial privileged vigilante meme, but not appear as if they are purposely ignoring Zimmerman’s phenotype.

    Hence “white Hispanic”, a preexisting term, but one which most honest people would admit has been little hitherto fore used. It’s the Center-Left and the Far Left who are now employing the term “white Hispanic”-ness of Zimmerman, although some are saying the racial identity doesn’t matter, and some are playing catch-up with the new data about Zimmerman.

    This current confusion and hand-wringing about the complexity that is Hispanicness might be taken as an example of US provincialism, but it isn’t the provincial ignorance of the xenophobic rubes at work here. This is about keeping up a narrative. Until recently, for obvious political reasons, including, but not limited to, immigration, most commentators and Latino community leaders weren’t so keen to split their community up on racial or geographic lines. The narrative was centripetal.

    If Zimmerman had been beaten up by a crew of rednecks this cynic bets Zimmerman would be described simply as Hispanic, no further ethnic adjectives or complexion qualifiers needed. We would most certainly not be lectured on how Zimmerman looks sort of Mediterranean, which he doesn’t, why he could even be French or Italian! See, he’s still the great white defendant!

    • Setton

      March 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      This is a reply to your reply to me. Thank you for your reply. I was with you until your last paragraph. I don’t agree with your statement that white privilege must come with economic privilege as well. I think we are all privileged in some areas, and disempowered in others. You can be dismepowered as a mestizo looking Latino, and also have privilege if you’re upper middle class. At the same time, you can be can have white privilege, and also be disempowered because of you are of low-SES. It’s a complicated world we live in. I hope that didn’t come off too much as a “sermon”. God bless.

    • White Asian

      April 25, 2012 at 9:19 am

      /clap