Half Sigma comes up with this news story, which makes the Trayvon Martin shooting a whole new deal.
George Zimmerman is clearly not white, and not even a white Hispanic. He looks like your run-of the-mill Mexican, which is to say a mestizo, a person of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry.
The term “Hispanic” is of course racially meaningless. It is officially and legally an ethnic category, invented if I remember correctly by the Nixon administration. If you are from Spain you are not Hispanic. Hispanic means you come from Latin America, and could be of any race.
When I was a kid, it was a lot simpler. Anyone from Latin America in California was a Mexican, whether recent immigrant or old stock. So we just called them “Mexicans”. The term Hispanic encompasses these people- who whether they come from Mexico, Guatemala, or El Salvador, are almost always mestizos or Amerindians. These people form the lower class of these countries, and the whiter middle and upper classes have less reason to leave. I remember a kid named Victor showed up at my school. He had dark hair and tannable skin, but with freckles. He wore a cardigan and leather shoes, and the other Mexican kids- who adhered to the cholo dress code- thought he was a dork and made fun of him for being from Mexico.
East of the Mississippi things are more complicated. Puerto Ricans have much more African ancestry, as do various other Caribbean Hispanics. The exception was the original Cuban refugees from Castro, who were upper-class and fairly white, even if brunette. Other Cubans had already come to Florida and settled in Tampa, but I don’t know how white they were.
If you hear of a Hispanic around Orlando named George Zimmerman, you might be excused for assuming- as I and apparently most others have- that he is a fairly white Cuban, who generally behaves like a European American. For a white person to behave aggressively toward a black person is extremely unusual. Bernie Goetz, the famed “subway vigilante”, is an example. But Florida has changed a lot in recent years and now has a lot of Mexicans and Central Americans. He is described as having a white father and Hispanic mother, but his mother must be mostly “indio” for him to look like he does.
But your rougher sort of Hispanics- and I’ll just say Mexicans for simplicity- don’t play well with blacks. They come from a culture where blacks are at the bottom of the totem pole and nobody feels bad about it. They are quite violent and racist, and don’t defer to blacks or like having them around.
Where there are large numbers of Mexicans they seem not to mix with blacks, and blacks seem to steer clear of them. In Los Angeles they have driven blacks out of many areas usually thought of as black strongholds- Compton, once white working class (and home of Kevin Costner and James Coburn) became black and scary, but not scary enough to keep out the Mexicans, who displaced the blacks. In some areas Mexican gangs have explicitly targeted blacks to make them leave. But it has to be cultural too- blacks just don’t like being around any significant number of non-blacks, I’m sure they find the Latin culture and language strange and frightening, and Mexicans are not deferential and inclined to ignore black predation, as whites are.
And that last bit tells the whole story. The neighborhood is a modest community of townhouses going for just over $100,000. A simple, blue-collar and lower middle-class place. While theoretically gated, a black resident quoted on Coates’s blog admits black “youth” have been walking in and stealing stuff. Zimmerman was quite angry about this. The area seems to be about 50% white and 25% Hispanic, but the census tract covers a large area so it’s hard to tell the racial mix of The Retreat at Twin Lakes. (Yes, housing developments in Florida have silly names like this.) I suspect that it is mostly white and white-acculturated Hispanics, which is why Zimmerman was the only resident willing to volunteer time to the Neighborhood Watch. His white and acculturated neighbors seem to have been willing to accept the incursions and treat them as a nuisance- locking the garage and house more carefully, and calling the insurance company about the loss.
One of white people’s serious defects is an unwillingness to protect their turf. White people are adapted, culturally and genetically, to avoid confrontation with those physically close. In a hostile climate a communal culture develops that discourages this.
Had Zimmerman not been there, there would have been no confrontation. Had there been more Mexicans, the local black kids might have gotten the message, however exactly Mexicans communicate it, that coming into the neighborhood to steal stuff- or coming into the neighborhood at all- was a bad idea.
We are going to be seeing Zimmerman’s sad mug in the paper and on TV a lot in the coming months. It is going to be hard to portray him as a secret Klansman. But he is not going to get off the hook. Blacks are enraged, and the Holder Justice Department has a headline-grabbing case.
Hispanics may get angry, seeing the sad face of a guy who looks like he ought to be hanging out in the Home Depot parking lot, daily excoriated as a “racist! RACIST!” And this may lead to a Hispanic pushback. That may be why the cops let him go. They see a fight between a Mexican and a black end with a gunshot, and the Mexican claims self-defense. A white cop doesn’t realize that because the Mexican has a German name he’ll be identified as white, and don’t want to get heat from the Hispanics for an unjustified arrest. So he writes it up as self-defense and figures it will go away.
In any case, this will be interesting. Blacks live on the assumption they can hurt and steal from all other races, but especially whites and Asians. They need to get taken down a notch, and if this does that, good.