The overarching storyline of the Trayvon Martin case -- white man kills black teen -- is neat and tidy in terms of American history and racial injustice. But there are shades of gray here because shooter George Zimmerman describes himself as Latino.
Zimmerman's father is white but his mother is from Peru. On his voter registration form, for example, Zimmerman checked off the "Hispanic" box. While police described him as "white" Zimmerman's own father calls his son a "Spanish-speaking minority."
But just because Zimmerman's mother is from Peru, does that make him Latino? The New York Daily News writes of the country:
Ethnicities in Peru run the gamut. Descendants of the original people or Amerindians of Peru, those who were under rule of the Inca empire, are the largest ethnic group, followed by those who are a mix of Spanish and Amerindian ancestry, also known as mestizos. Whites are about 15 percent of the population, followed by blacks, Asians and other groups. Class distinctions based on race and language persist in Peru, with whites at the top of the societal hierarchy and indigenous people often at the bottom, a vestige of Spanish colonialism.
Zimmerman's family has not commented on this issue, but their former neighbors back in Virginia say race was never an issue with the family.
“I saw Hispanics, blacks, all kinds of people visiting over there,” Kay Hall said. “I don’t think they had any kind of racial problems."
Even if Zimmerman considers himself Latino, he likely cannot look to that community for support.
“The Latino community joins the African-American community and other communities in condemning George Zimmerman as what he is – a murderer and a racist,” Roberto Lovato, co-founder of the online Latino advocacy organization Presente.org told The Daily Caller.
Lovato said it doesn't matter what Zimmerman's ethnicity is.
“His background is not clear,” Lovato explained. “Is he Latino? Is he white? Is he both? Who knows? It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant are his actions, his racist comments, and his cold-blooded killing of an innocent young man.”