Rachel Jeantel, the 19 year old young woman questioned as a key prosecution witness in the Trayvon Martin trial, was/is put through a trial of her own in the court of public opinion. Social media overall, but especially Twitter have newly pages, status updates, posts and hashtags which mock nearly everything about her. One would almost think that Rachel Jeantel was the one on trial Wednesday and Thursday instead of George Zimmerman.
I’m not going to lie; I cringed as I watched/heard some of the proceedings. I knew how she would appear to some people. She was virtually a walking stereotype: a poorly educated, fat, angry black teenage female with an attitude. However, I also saw a young woman thrown into a situation none of us would ever want to be in, trying hard to keep her head up and do the best she can.
Her demeanor, especially on that first day was most described as “antagonistic and defensive”. No shit Sherlock. Is this truly a surprise? She’s a 19 year old witness at a murder trial facing the lawyer for the defendant. The person she knows whose job it is to discredit her and anything she may say in hopes of making her look bad and his client look good to the jury. Nah, you’re not going to be on your guard and defensive about that at all.
The next day, she was calmer; there was noticeably less antagonism between her and the lawyer during questioning. Enough so that it West himself commented on it, to which a good night’s sleep was Jeantel’s reply. Was the discerning public happy? Not quite, for now the was commentary over her multiple uses of “sir” to Don West in a subtle implication of “Uncle Toming“. Classic damned if one does/damned if one does not.
Nearly every other tweet regarding her either induced facepalming or had me outright cringing in its vitriol. Posters questioned her education, mocked her looks and retweeted her less than inspiring tweets. Because we all know, that at nineteen years of age, every phrase that spouts from ones thoughts in 160 characters or less is going to be jaw-dropping brilliant. Still I what simply cannot grasp is why so many blacks in particular on Twitter felt the need to mock and insult a teenaged girl clearly still grieving over the loss of a friend.
The way these detractors have posted “in jest” is so heartless it makes me sick. And almost none of it has anything to do with the trail itself, but exists solely to humiliate a young woman at what must be the most vulnerable time in her life thus far. It begs to wonder how any of those finding such humorous sport in this would fare on a courtroom stand, under a tremendous amount of pressure, while being watched by the nation, all at 19 years of age.
Makes me wanna holler throw up both my hands.
Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve found everything about these proceedings hard to swallow. Can I say how much I hate that newscasters keep calling this the “Trayvon Martin trial”? That clearly sounds as if Martin is the one on trial. And while it’s certainly true that his having the nerve to be a young black man out in public is on trial, the actual defendant here is George Zimmerman. Why is it so hard to get this right?