What does “Hispanic” mean?

George Zimmerman


Violet Socks:

Attention world: most Hispanic Americans are white

In a country where people think a Mexican restaurant is the same thing as a Spanish restaurant, it’s not surprising that there is confusion about what being Hispanic means. The other day some twit on a newspaper site questioned George Zimmerman’s identification as a white Hispanic. “I’ve never heard of that sub-grouping before,” quoth the twit. I think an entire branch of my family tree just fell into the ocean.

The fact is, the majority of Hispanic Americans identify as white (53% in the 2010 Census). This is not some new thing, nor is it a nefarious trick. Hispanic means you speak Spanish or are from a Spanish-speaking background. People from Spain and the former Spanish colonies are Hispanic. The race of these folks varies, just as the race of people from England and the former English colonies varies. Most people from Spain are white, and a large percentage of people in the former Spanish colonies are white. Some people in the former Spanish colonies are Indian, a great many are mestizo, and some are black. But as long as they are from a Spanish-speaking culture, they’re Hispanic.


The problem is that the U.S. Census does not treat “Hispanic” as a race. That means that all Hispanics must choose one of the following:

1. American Indian or Alaska Native
2. Asian
3. Black or African American
4. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
5. White


Here is how the Census defines “white”:

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.


I live in the Central Valley of California. We have a large Mexican-American population. In my experience, when given the option most Mexican-Americans will self-identify as “Hispanic,” “Latino” or “Brown” (as in “Brown Pride.”) One of the prominent Hispanic advocacy groups here in the United States is an organization called The National Council of La Raza. “La Raza” means “The Race.”

“Hispanic” is a fairly new term and designates a broad category that includes Spaniards, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, Columbians, Dominicans and sometimes Portuguese and Brazilians. It all depends on who is doing the grouping. Genetically Hispanics range from pure white/European to Native American to African. Many Hispanics are either biracial or multi-racial.

Culturally they are very diverse as well. Most Hispanics are Catholic and speak Spanish, but they don’t all eat burritos and tacos. They don’t all like each other either. Florida has a large Cuban-American population. New York has a large Puerto Rican community and the Southwest has lots of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

George Zimmerman self-identified as “Hispanic” on his voter registration card. (He also registered as a Democrat.) His father was white/caucasian and his mother was Peruvian. I’m unaware of any large Peruvian-American communities in the United States.

When the Trayvon Martin killing first became national news the media depicted Zimmerman as “white” without any mention of his ethnicity. But the first picture published of him showed clearly that he has Hispanic heritage. That is when the media began using the new term “White Hispanic.” They did this for a specific reason – to maintain the narrative that Trayvon was the victim of white racism.

Here’s a question: If Hispanics are considered to be white, why is it racist for a white person to oppose illegal immigration?



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43 Responses to What does “Hispanic” mean?

  1. DandyTiger says:

    Here’s a question: If Hispanics are considered to be white, why is it racist for a white person to oppose illegal immigration?

    Silly question. Their race is determined based on what the meme requires. If it’s convenient for them to be white, they’re white, if non white, they’re non white. You can tell how much someone loves hispanics by how they so easily use them as a tool for their political purpose.

  2. driguana says:

    Things keep getting more and more twisted as the race bating and viral lying reach new proportions. Some Hispanic friends here in Santa Fe just posted “Jesus wore a hoodie”….I’m not responding anymore.
    It’s going to be a long hot summer.

  3. WMCB says:

    I’m well aware that “hispanic” is not a race, like white or black are. That’s the “so what?” argument being brought forth by the race-baiters to justify use of the term white hispanic by the media.

    Bullshit. We are not talking esoteric correct definitions here, we are talking about what terminology the media routinely uses to refer to hispanic men in news reports. And up until now they have NEVER, to my knowledge, referred to a single living soul as “white hispanic”. Not once. Only now.

    I could not give a shit if “white hispanic” is “technically correct”. It’s not the terminology that is ever used, EXCEPT for Zimmerman. Because they really really wanted a sensational white vigilante vs. poor innocent black boy narrative, and by God they were going to have it.

    With all due respect to Violet, whom I have the utmost respect for, this has dick-all to do with the census, or scientifically accurate terminology in the anthropological sense. It has to do with creating a deliberate perception.

    • elliesmom2 says:

      I have great respect for Violet, too, but I think the reaction at her blog to this situation is as much about how they feel about guns and the people who own them than whether Zimmerman is white or not. Zimmerman is normally the kind of guy who wouldn’t upset their sensibilities other than being male, but he’s a registered Democrat with a carry permit, and don’t you know that only racist conservative Republicans and criminals carry guns?

      • WMCB says:

        *snort* Cops per capita are responsible every damn year for MORE shootings of innocent civilians than legal handgun owners are. Legal handgun owners are some of the most careful, “respectful of the power of the weapon” people you will ever meet, as a rule.

        A lot more crimes are stopped and interrupted every year by legal gun owners than there are accidents. A LOT. Tons and tons and tons of rapes and robberies and murders stopped in their tracks by an armed citizen. That doesn’t even count the deterrent factor.

        Chicago is turning into a fucking war zone, and it has the strictest gun laws in the country. DC is almost as bad. Getting rid of legal guns does not stop shootings – it only makes the criminals more bold, secure in the knowledge that that lady walking down the alley is likely not armed.

        Sorry, but look at the damn statistics and facts, instead of having an entirely emotional “ZOMG, GUNNNSSS!!” response.

        • elliesmom2 says:

          I don’t own a gun, but my dad did. He was a registered Democrat, too. A real yeller dawg. He always said that if he needed to protect his family, he would, and he’d worry about the legality afterwards. I know that at Violet’s blog, not all liberals are considered “good”, mostly the liberals that are “bad” are bad for not being liberal enough. But without a doubt all conservatives are evil. I just think that she and her readers are having a hard time with Zimmerman not fitting the narrative they want to believe.

        • WMCB says:

          I believe in the right to bear arms partly for the self-protection factor, but also for the bad govt factor. No, I am not a revolutionary, and have no intention of ever in my lifetime needing to overthrow a govt. That would be an extremest of the extreme case scenario.

          BUT…. it does not escape my attention that almost every despotic govt in the looong long history of mankind has at some point found it a necessary “way forward” to disarm the general populace. Repeatedly in history. Like clockwork. If they want to be even more despotic than they are, they start collecting the guns (or swords, or whatever the weapon of the time was) and saying who can have them and who can’t. And once they disarm the populace, then the REALLY bad shit starts.

          Do I think that’s going to happen here? Nope. Not gonna happen. Am I 100% certain enough of that that I want the citizenry to be disarmed? Nope. Last resorts are just that. Not NO resort, LAST resort.

          And BTW, that has been a perfectly Liberal position to hold for a long long time. It’s not radical or unusual in Liberal thought. It’s these asshole progressives who decided that kind of thinking was bad.

      • votermom says:

        I think Violet banned me.

        • elliesmom2 says:

          Violet banned me a couple of years ago for suggesting that birth control was not as inaccessible as she said it was. She told me I needed to contact her with an apology. I didn’t owe her one so she never got it.

        • DandyTiger says:

          It’s sadly all too common. A new “crisis” comes along, the kool-aid IV goes in, and all reason goes out. We seem to see that among so many bloggers we visit.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          LOL@ Ellie. I had a similar run in. After telling me for a year that women just needed to get along despite their differences, she disowned because I wouldn’t get mad at the women she was making unsupported claims about and whom she wanted me to disown.

          She tolerated me on her blog after that until I suggested I didn’t buy the whole trannies-are-women-too thing. Then I was banned. She’s got peculiarisms, that’s for sure, and while she’s smart and a pretty good writer, her own biases often get in the way, reducing her credibility.

        • yttik says:

          Alas, Violet also banned me a while back.

  4. threewickets says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why it’s not racist for Obama supporters to subscribe so enthusiastically to the one drop rule. If Obama were president of Brazil for instance, he’d probably not be categorized or labeled as black or white. He’d simply be Brazilian.

  5. myiq2xu says:

    33% Believe Zimmerman Guilty of Murder in Trayvon Martin Case

    Despite round-the-clock media coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, most Americans haven’t come to a conclusion yet whether it’s a case of murder or self-defense.

    One-third (33%) of adults believe crime watch volunteer George Zimmerman should be found guilty of murder in the shooting death of the Florida teenager, while 15% think Zimmerman acted in self-defense, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. But 52% of Americans are not sure.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Americans on the whole are more reasonable, rational, and responsible than most in the media, on the blogs, and in politics. Gives me hope.

    • yttik says:

      That’s kind of scary. People are not supposed to be found guilty by the media or a survey of public opinion. They’re supposed to get a trial in which facts are presented.

  6. Jen the Michigander says:

    If you aren’t sure if someone is “white” or not, try the 1950s TV Sitcom Test. Think of Desi Arnaz– he was married to Lucille Ball, both onscreen and off. No one thought of it as an interracial marriage. Ditto for Lebanese-American Danny Thomas, whose onscreen TV sitcom wife was the blond Marjorie Lord; one of their TV children was played by Angela “The Sound of Music” Cartwright.

    So if you’re not sure if George Zimmerman is white or not, imagine him portraying the dad on a 1950s family sitcom. Would the viewers at that time accept him as the husband of a blond lady who vacuums the living room in high heels and pearls? Would they throw a hiss fit at the sight of him playing Daddy to three freckle-faced kids named Skippy, Sis, and Buttons?

    • DandyTiger says:

      The would have definitely thrown a fit. He’s much too native (1/2 peruvian) looking unlike the very european looking Desi or Danny IMO.

      But that’s all beside the point. Here we’re talking about how fickle and self serving these identifications are, and how they twist in the wind depending on the meme of the day.

  7. lovelalola says:

    This is one of the annoying things about Socks. She knows what the real objection is, which has nothing to do with assigning Hispanics the race category of white. It’s the new media spin on that new term “White Hispanic” and what the media is trying to do by using it, which is to provoke excessive racial tensions.

    It’s not a term anyone saw in the media before this event happened, and the distinction is actually useless in this case. Minorities cannot oppress each other. They can kill each other and act in bigoted or stereotypical ways, but as oppressed people themselves, they lack authority to perpetrate institutional racism.

  8. DandyTiger says:

    New messaging from La Raza (not really, just made it up silly):

    We’re just white people like you breaking the law coming across the border. If you don’t like us coming across the border and being cheep labor, then you’re a r… um, well, you don’t like us very much. Otherwise, it’s not an issue because, well, because now we’re just white. Apparently. Damn you Al Sharpton.

  9. Lulu says:

    I think we are seeing the people who claimed that the election of Obama would usher in a post racial society are really obsessed not only with race but with ethnicity. So that means they are big fat liars and hypocrites. Yeah, I know, what else is new.

  10. DandyTiger says:

    OK, slightly OT, but 2B for Dodgers:

    A group led by Lakers legend Magic Johnson emerged Tuesday night as the new owners of the Dodgers, ending months of uncertainty for the storied but troubled baseball franchise.

    Johnson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA championships during the “Showtime” era of the 1980s, is a partner in the group along with longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber. The controlling owner would be Mark Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services company.

    Walter and McCourt met privately in New York on Tuesday, coming to an agreement only hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three final bidders.

    The winning group paid $2 billion for the team — a record for a sports franchise — according to an announcement issued jointly with previous owner Frank McCourt.

    • myiq2xu says:

      I am a SF Giants fan. I consider it a winning season if the Giants do any of the following:

      1. Make the playoffs
      2. Finish ahead of the Dodgers
      3. Knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs

      • DandyTiger says:

        OK, what if there were a neutral sport, say darts, and it was the SF Giants against the Raiders. Who would you be for?

        OK, why did I even ask, it has to be the Raiders.

  11. myiq2xu says:

    I get mail:

    Myiq2xu, almost 40,000 people have signed our petition to the Department of Justice calling for an independent investigation of the police department in Sanford, Florida, for its history of not prosecuting violent crimes against African-Americans. Please, click here to sign the petition now.

    The continued public outrage over Trayvon Martin’s killing is starting to produce results. Responding to public pressure, the Department of Justice announced it would open an investigation into Trayvon’s death. The Sanford police chief has stepped down. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has appointed a special prosecutor to take over over the case from local authorities.

    These are all positive steps, but given the Sanford Police Department’s repeated failure to prosecute violent crimes when the victim is African-American and the alleged assailant is not, the Department of Justice needs to set up an investigation of the Sanford Police Department itself.

    Please, sign our petition to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation of the Sanford Police Department. We are working with partners deliver it next week.

    Keep fighting,
    Meteor Blades, Daily Kos

    • DandyTiger says:

      An Al Sharpton wanabe.

      • Erica says:

        Not the sharpest blade in the box….where’s the data to support the claim of a history of not prosecuting properly? (not saying their isn’t one, but giving some evidence along with the rhetoric would be useful)

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Someone should start a petition to stop the madness and suspend judgement until all the facts are in. Bet that would go over well. Bet it would also be reported as raycist by the media.

      • elliesmom2 says:

        What if we looted Neiman-Marcus in support of letting the judicial system do its job on its own schedule? Would our demonstration be “mostly peaceful”? (There’s nothing I really want at Walgreen’s.)

  12. craterlakegirl says:

    I wonder who started it all. A police department employee? A Florida politician? Someone’s fingerprints are on this.

  13. Lola-at-Large says:

    WHOA! Check out this video: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-zimmerman-video-20120329,0,7952997.story

    Disregard the obvious bias and race-baiting. ZIMMERMAN is no where near 200 lbs. The photos they’ve been using are all much older, when he was bigger. Now he’s pretty fit, I’d guess around 180 lbs. That puts him and Martin within 20 lbs of each other, and the height at Martin 6’3 & Zimmerman 5’9.

    The LA times, water carriers that they are, uses the video to suggest that Zimmerman is not bleeding (which you really can’t tell because they never show his backside and it’s surveillance footage, so really quite grainy. What you can see is his swollen and pale nose, however. From my POV (and I’m sure others’), it’s easier to see how Zimmerman was knocked to the ground with one blow and was dominated by Martin once on the ground. Not the angle they were looking for, but they don’t get to think for people. Yet.

    • Jon says:

      We still haven’t seen any official number for Martins height/weight, just an estimate on a preliminary police report.

      I got a gut feeling the final number is 6’2″, 170-180.

      Just my gut.

  14. gram cracker says:

    We are all Africans. The whole “race” thing really bugs me. We are the “human” race. I realize that culturally we make a big deal about classifying humans into different races, but it really is a useless term anthropologically.

    Dogs are just dogs no matter what color they are. All domesticated dogs are descended from gray wolves. There are different “breeds” of dogs but they all share almost identical DNA.

    The human race, homo sapiens species, has different breeds and maybe subspecies. Appearance differences developed mostly do to environmental adaptation. All human so called races can mate and reproduce viable offspring that can also reproduce. If they really were a different race they could not do so.

    Years ago I had the fun task of extracting the stratum corneum from pigs for research. Pig stratum corneum is very similar to human skin. The pigs were mostly white with black patches. As part of the extraction process I removed the black melanin. As I held the black granular material in my hands I marveled to think “this is what the big fuss about skin color is about?”! Of course the social significance of differences in skin color is more about social status and so called racism than the actual melanin material.

    As Rodney King implored, “can’t we all just get along?”

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