It Aint Over Yet: Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel and Politics of Respectability

I swore I would relegate my Trayvon coverage to my radio show and this blog’s fanpage but here we are. On the flip, I’m not blogging about Trayvon. Not exactly.

Today marked another day of the Zimmerman trial and Trayvon’s friend and the last person to speak to him, Rachel Jeantel, was called to the stand to testify for the persecution. I wasn’t watching and I’m still not watching but I didn’t have to thanks to outrage that was poured onto my Facebook timeline. According to one of my friends, Twitter was experiencing a similar bout of chaos. The chaos wasn’t directed toward Zimmerman or the defense. It was directed at Rachel.

According to people on my timeline, Rachel’s testimony could ruin the prosecution’s case because she didn’t sound educated enough. As I type this blog post, I am playing the some footage from the trial and frankly, I am more aggravated by the reactions of her detractors than I am at her supposed lack of education and attitude.

I don’t know if some of you have forgotten but Rachel was the last person to speak to Trayvon. She was the last person to hear his voice and she heard his dying moments. Looking at this footage, it is obvious that she hasn’t gotten over that incident. She handled that questioning better than a lot of people would have. She certainly handled it better than I would have. To complain about her being too inarticulate, uneducated, unprepared and stereotypical (all complaints that I read), is offensive as hell to me. Not to mention, it reeks of respectability politics. The same politics that complained about Charles Ramsey’s disheveled hair, Sweet Brown’s headscarf and Antoine Dodson’s everything while ignoring the fact that all three of them faced serious situations. It’s the same politics that screams “that’s why white people look down on us!” every time a black person in the spotlight looks anything less than a Cosby. It’s tired and I wish we would cut it out. If Rachel’s testimony sinks the prosecution’s case, the Martin family’s lawyers weren’t doing their jobs.

In the words of my friend and fellow hell raiser Jeff Winbush:

Zimmerman’s trial didn’t end today and no verdict will be handed down tomorrow. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and both the defense and the prosecution will have their good days and bad days. Today was a good day for the defense. Let it go and move on.
 
 
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4 thoughts on “It Aint Over Yet: Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel and Politics of Respectability

  1. Alexis says:

    I hate that folks are getting on her because of how she speaks. Grammar doesn’t detract from her testimony. This young woman has gone through a lot since the death of her friend. We’d all be frustrated and upset (esp considering this trial is being broadcast around the world).

  2. Kenesha Williams (@Kenesha_W) says:

    Thank you for this. This also reeks of DuBois & Fanon’s double consciousness. As Fanon stated, blacks view themselves through the gaze of whites because he is rendered black in relation to whiteness. Therefore instead of just taking her testimony as it was, a grieving friend of a wrongly murdered young black teen, people saw it as someone who was “making us look bad”.

  3. Ed says:

    I don’t know if you watched it or not, but by the way you are defending her it sounds like you did not watch her. She needed to speak well in order to regain credibility. She lied twice (which was brought up by the defense team) and she just wasn’t professional. The defense ate her alive and showed that she wasn’t credible. I sat and watched from the time she took the stand from until the time she left… it was PATHETIC.

  4. outfire123 says:

    She was extremely disrespectful.
    Does not matter what she has been through.
    I am really surprised that the Judge did not say anything to her at the time she was telling the defense lawyer ” She as going home and not coming back the next day.”
    I mean really!!! really??? I was shocked.

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