Are Latinos Racist? TWLC's Viviana Hurtado on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin Talks About Trayvon Martin's Killing

Are only white people racistas?

Do blacks "own" a form of racism: reverse racism?

Is it "ironic" (lamest use of this word I read in the blogosphere) that George Zimmerman, the self-appointed, unauthorized-by-the-subdivision, one-man-neighborhood-watch vigilante who shot and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin, is a "white Hispanic"?


I don't even know where to begin debunking such an absurd assumption: that prejudice, stereotypes, and racism don't exist in Latin American or U.S. Latino cultures.  That if it does, then this condition only afflicts "white" Hispanos, miraculously sparing mestizo, mulatto, darker, lighter, mixed with Asian, indigenous, Jewish, Arab, and everything in between and ¡pssst!  I heard they live in a perpétuo state of blissful harmony.

I don't know if this use of "ironic" is just poor word choice and gives me pena ajena--this writer is embarassed for a colleague.

Or am I just taken aback by the depth of ignorance expressed in finding irony in the shooter's ethnicity--the same ignorance that makes static assumptions of who is "racist," of who supposedly commits--or doesn't--crimes, that doesn't know how deep rooted the racial caste system from colonial times remains in Latin America with people believing that "if I have 'good hair; and if marry 'light' to mejorar la raza, I'll get ahead."

It's not just a mindset.  This thinking still rules opportunity for social and economic advancement, as well as political power not just in the ol' country but here among many U.S. Latinos.

The focus on the "irony" of the killer's ethnicity also takes it away from the tragedy--a young boy who was shot dead for no other reason than being at the wrong place at the wrong time, because Trayvon was "black" and wearing a hoodie made him "look the part."

I hope the outrage that kept this story alive and brought it through social media--yet again--to the mainstream--makes us ask, why are we content with record numbers of young men of color not graduating from college, becoming doctores, and starting up businesses, but instead being killed by crazies and more often, by EACH OTHER?

I hope that social trust is restored in the police because they are supposed to protect and serve citizens and that this department is held accountable for violating this social covenant, that a legal and political system that allows "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws has to answer for the whiplash-worthy range of consequences George Zimmerman faces if he is ever arrested and charged: under one, he could be prosecuted for murder, under "Stand Your Ground," he could walk.

I joined Michel, Danielle Belton of the politics and pop culture blog the Black Snob, and columnists Mary Kate Cary of US World News & Report and Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times in the Beauty Shop segment of NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin which was on fire with talk of Trayvon's killing, the Illinois primary results, and Sofía Vergara's accent.

To hear more hot topics on TMM’s “Beauty Shop” with Viviana, Michel, plus smart and sassy ladies, click here.

As our country becomes "browner," will this demographic shift change how we talk about issues such as racism?