State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, popularly known as the Trayvon Martin case, is now a platform on which liberal and conservative advocates make major pronouncements on important issues of the day. However, this perch is a surprisingly rickety one, since the statements made from it usually have little to do with the facts in this sad, sad, sad trial.
Liberals, for instance, see this entire affair through the Left’s all-encompassing lens of latent white racism and the alleged widespread bigotry that targets blacks in America — fatally so, when it came to 17-year-old Martin. This is all quite interesting and actually might be relevant, save for one crucial fact: Zimmerman is not white.
As it happens, the 29-year-old Zimmerman is of mixed — essentially biracial — ancestry, much like President Obama. Indeed, it would be as accurate to call Zimmerman Hispanic as it would be to describe Obama as white. Nevertheless, public discussion focuses almost entirely on Zimmerman’s Caucasian roots, much like the notion that Obama is America’s first black president, even though he is, at most, 50 percent black.
George Zimmerman’s Peruvian-born mother sits on the lap of Zimmerman’s Afro-Peruvian great grandfather.
Zimmerman’s mother’s maiden name is Mesa. This reflects her birth in Peru. “He was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather — the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him,” Reuters’ Chris Francescani wrote in an eye-opening April 25, 2012 article on Zimmerman’s background.
So, amazingly enough, Zimmerman actually is part black. Regardless, numerous news accounts describe him as “a white Hispanic.” This unusual formulation is about as common as “a white black.”
Beyond all of these chromosomal specifics, Zimmerman seems to be anything but a racist. He is bilingual and informally served as a translator in his grade school, presumably bridging the English-Spanish language gap between administrators and foreign-born parents.
As several journalists, not least Reason’s Cathy Young, have demonstrated, Zimmerman might have been eligible for an NAACP Image Award were it not for his calamitous, chance encounter in Sanford, Fla., with the unarmed Martin. Among Zimmerman’s acts of non-racism, he took a black girl to his high school prom. Zimmerman and a black business partner jointly launched an Allstate insurance office in 2004. Zimmerman served as a mentor to disadvantaged black children. He also appeared at a January 8, 2011, public forum at Sanford City Hall. He spoke up there to defend Sherman Ware, a homeless black man who was beaten up by Justin Collison, the son of a white police officer.
Further diluting the Left’s anti-Zimmerman narrative: He is one of them.
Zimmerman is a Democrat and an Obama voter. As his brother Robert explained to Breitbart.com, George is “a registered Democrat. He registered as a Hispanic. He kind of did some internal family campaigning for Obama.” Referring to his brother, Robert Zimmerman added: “He was like many young people who thought that the president’s club had been a club of white men since our founding, and that there really wasn’t a good reason for that.”
Somehow, George Zimmerman — the reputed reincarnation of the late Senator Robert KKK Byrd (D., W.V.) — turns out to be . . . part of Obama’s winning coalition.
Liberals can holler all they want about white racism. And where such bigotry actually exists, hollering is justified. But white racism played no part in this case, as confirmed by the prosecution’s silence on the matter.
“I think all of us thought race did not play a role,” Juror B37 told CNN after the trial. Referring to herself and her fellow jurors, she added: “We never had that discussion.”
For their part, conservatives argue this case shows that black kids, especially boys, often run aground when they are reared by single moms. No doubt, when 73 percent of black children are born out of wedlock, trouble almost inevitably follows. This is a perfectly legitimate issue, but it also has nothing to do with this case. TV coverage of this trial showed Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, grieving in the court room, right beside Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. George Zimmerman also has a mother and father. So, the impact of single motherhood is an important issue. But not here.