George Zimmerman Race: White, Latino, or Jewish? In The Trayvon Martin Case, It Shouldn't Matter

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch officer who shot 17-year old Trayvon Martin, was first labeled as the white man who shot an innocent black boy. As the case has opened up in recent weeks, it has been revealed that Zimmerman has a Peruvian mother and a white father. How does Zimmerman’s race play into his initial treatment by law enforcement following his crime? It doesn’t. Regardless of whether Zimmerman is White, Latino, or Black, this case shows that our society continues to hold stereotypes against young black males. 

The confusion over Zimmerman’s race began with his last name that gave some the impression that he is Jewish. When Zimmerman’s photos were released, the public questioned why he was labeled white, as many thought of him as Latino. For that matter, people questioned why a Latino man would be released after shooting an unarmed black teenager. Some people argue that police released Zimmerman because they thought he was a white man; if he had been a man of color, he would have been arrested.

In hopes of saving his son from the title of a racist, Zimmerman’s father wrote in a letter to the Orlando Sentinel, George is “a Spanish-speaking minority … He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.” His family has even pointed out that some of his relatives are black. 

This emphasizes that being a minority somehow gives people resistance from having racist beliefs. The truth of the matter is that anyone is susceptible to being racist regardless of their race. George Zimmerman’s racist slur in the audio from his police call reveals that he did in fact have racist intentions.

Whether Zimmerman is White, Latino, Jewish, or Black, his race doesn’t give him a free pass for any racist actions towards others.

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Sifat Azad

Sifat is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University in London as the first-ever recipient of the Hilary Mantel Creative Writing Scholarship Award. She is a CUNY Baccalaureate graduate with dual concentrations in Literature and Creative Writing. Her piece, "Covered," was featured in John Jay's Finest and her short story, "Brownstone," was published in J Journal: New Writing on Justice.

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