What’s a White Hispanic and What’s That Got To Do With Trayvon Martin?
It’s taking a life of its own now. “White hispanic” kills unarmed “black” teenager whose main crime seems to have been that he was wearing a hoodie. Add in a questionable police response and we have all we need for a glorious mess.
This whole sad story is hard for us to handle and a whole lot harder for the families involved. The most frustrating aspect is the lack of clear facts and the apparent attempts by media, police department investigators, district attorney and the families of Zimmerman and Martin to push particular views and hide others.
If I was part of Martin’s family group I would be ticked to the ultimate by what has happened to him and the seeming lack of coherent investigation to resolve what actually happened. It’s not right and I would want some butts kicked. We’ve lost a 17-year-old son and the investigators can’t work out what happened? Zimmerman’s story seems to have huge holes in it and it tends to drift – how come the investigation has been so minimal?
If I was in Zimmerman’s family I’d want to run for cover and protect him until this whole thing calmed down. I’d want to protest the attitude that he is guilty of murder before the facts have been clearly established. Grilling Zimmerman to explain to me what the heck he was thinking and what he really did would also be on my list.
If I was the DA I’d want to slap some heads in the police department so the investigators would come clean with me and tell me everything they know so I could make sound decisions on what to do. I’d want to be sure that the investigation was both thorough and free from bias. Convince me! I’d also be nervous about the law that allows vigilante slayings with impunity.
If I was a part of the media I’d be thoroughly ashamed of the botch we’d made in reporting this. I’d know it was good for sales (sensationalizing partial stories always drives interest and provides endless opportunities for follow-up stories) but I’d also have a huge sense of disappointment at the irresponsible way we so blatantly compromised ourselves.
Sad facts of a senseless killing aside (and it’s hard to put that aside), the most disturbing feature of this story has been the underlying racism. The term “white hispanic” is unnecessary and not remotely helpful. The media wanted to introduce the concept that this was racial profiling at its worst: hence Martin, the young “black” guy wearing the hoodie “uniform” worn by all suspicious and criminally intent thugs, is seen in a place he should not be (gated community, read class discrimination), and is hunted down by a “white” hispanic (race) captain of the neighborhood watch (responsible, upstanding, civic-minded, self-less volunteer) who in a desperate act of self-defense is forced to use lethal force to survive a brutal and life-threatening attack (unprovoked) as a last possible resort (justifiable and reasonable action, play down wannabe cop aspirations of Zimmerman and his prior issues with police).
To swallow that story we would have to be mentally ill. About the only thing we can say with certainty is that it didn’t happen like that and the media use of hot-button labels has only inflamed a sad situation until it becomes entirely senseless.
Here’s three concerns:
- We need accurate facts. It is frustrating to have a story like this blasted all over the media when it is obvious that the facts have not been properly established, irresponsibly handled, or deliberately withheld. We are justified in assuming that the incoherent police reports and inconsistent police action require investigation and explanation. Something is not right, we need to know what it is. But we need facts not assumptions and facts don’t need to be supercharged with unnecessary emotive terms.
- We need to drop all the labels. We don’t have any evidence they are warranted and using them only serves to deepen hurts and create false impressions. Labels are the doorway to stereotyping which stirs up a lot of ill feeling and leads to more heat than light. It’s time for responsible journalism instead of sensationalism.
- We have lost our value on human life when one group can say (with strong feelings and claims that are hard to deny) that Trayvon Martin’s experience was far from unique and that a low value was place on his life. The indifferent police response would support that claim. We have lost our value on human life when a person can consider it reasonable to “hunt down” another person and purposefully kill him despite being told to back off. We have lost our value on human life when we create laws that allow one person to kill another and not be held accountable for that death.
What does faith say on this:
The God who confronted Cain asks George Zimmerman (and ultimately us),”Where is your brother (Trayvon) ?”
“I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?” is the answer.
And he replies to us, “What have you done? Listen, your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
The first defendant in answering this case will be Zimmerman but there is also a case against those who have put in place the laws that allow this and those who have fanned the attitudes and insecurities that could make such action even remotely acceptable.
Attitude is everything. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I say to you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment . . But anyone who says (to his brother), “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
We cite huge progress in racial equality over the last fifty years and it’s true, there has been progress. It isn’t enough. We still use racist terms and behavior to put down others, we still regard them as fools because they are different from us and we are afraid of them. And it isn’t just “whites” vs. all other races, it’s racial group against racial group, ethnic group against ethnic group, and there are none who are righteous, no not one! Nothing will change until attitudes change and that is a change we are reluctant to make. We are afraid to reach out to those who are different from us and we are reluctant to see them first as people.
The media response has turned back the clock on this one so we’ll have to take deliberate action to counter the old fears and insecurities they have fanned. We are called to be the promoters of acceptance and the ones who value life. We need to push against the tide on this one and make a stand for the sanctity of life.
- Florida shooter’s race a complicated matter (usnews.com)
Posted on March 31, 2012, in Relationships and tagged discrimination, fear of others, murder, race and ethnicity, stereo-typing, Trayvon Martin, value of life, White Hispanic and Latino Americans. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.