When George Zimmerman was tried last year in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, descriptions of Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” rankled some whites as well as a number of Hispanics.
“Whites think the media were intent on telling a tragic tale in terms of a white villain and a black victim, and so that’s why they tacked on the modifier ‘white’ before ‘Hispanic,’ ” syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote last July for the Washington Post Writers Group. “Hispanics are just as cynical. They believe that a half-white, half-Hispanic person who wins the Nobel Peace Prize will likely be referred to as ‘white’ but one who kills an unarmed black youth and becomes a reviled member of society will always be called ‘Hispanic.’ . . . “
Hispanics can be of any race, and now an African American writer for Slate has stirred that pot again with an essay headlined, “Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?” Jamelle Bouie’s April 15 piece drew rebukes from at least two Latino writers.
Citing figures from the Pew Research Center, Bouie wrote, “Come 2050, only 47 percent of Americans will call themselves white, while the majority will belong to a minority group. Blacks will remain steady at 13 percent of the population, while Asians will grow to 8 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, will explode to 28 percent of all U.S. population, up from 19 percent in 2010. Immigration is driving this ‘demographic makeover,’ specifically the ’40 million immigrants who have arrived since 1965, about half of them Hispanics and nearly three-in-ten Asians.’ “
Bouie added, “Will white Hispanics see themselves as part of a different race, or will they see themselves as just another kind of white? . . . now might be the last time we have a public debate over the whiteness of a figure like George Zimmerman. To Americans of 2050, the answer would be obvious: ‘Of course he is.’ “
Julio Ricardo Varela, founder of LatinoRebels.com, called Bouie’s piece “perhaps the dumbest thing the magazine has ever published,” and criticized Slate’s lack of Latinos.
“Sure, there are some Latinos who will be ‘tomorrow’s whites,’ Varela wrote Friday. ”However, from where I stand, that number is insignificant, just like other people of color striving for ‘whiteness.’
“Hopefully Bouie and Slate do start listening more to what Latinos are saying, and even reading some of the comments being posted on the piece:
“My Hispanic colleague commented on this issue and said: