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Rachael Jeantel (via YouTube)

This week, Rachael Jeantel is my patron saint of Black girls. Usually I give that title to Kerry Washington for her Bronx-meets-Spence-meets-Hollywood swagger. Or Lolo Jones (who stupidly and confusingly did this to Jeantel) for her athleticism, faith, and “beat the odds” story trifecta. They represent so much to me, chiefly code-switching under pressure and blatant fabulousness. But I think Jeantel has earned the title this week.

In these seven days so much has bubbled up from the swamp of America’s race relations. In one corner, the SCOTUS essentially declares racism over by striking down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They also handed out a Laodicean non-ruling on Affirmative Action. In the next, we have Paula Deen and her use of the N-word coupled with her alleged treating her employees like slaves while also imagining a blissful plantation wedding with Blacks serving in little white jackets—in my imagination, she’d unwittingly have recruited Nat Turner to serve the mini shrimp and grits canapés. And finally, we have the George Zimmerman trial, where Jeantel was on the witness stand.

Jeantel, who was on the other end of that call, was on the witness stand. Being the witness in a high profile case never looks easy, but in this instance seeing her hits close to home because the words being used against her are the very things I fear as a fellow Black girl.

It’s not just a fear; it’s more of a paranoia that jumps out unannounced to make me hyperaware of just being me. It’s the fear being accused of being surly, ghetto, angry, or having an attitude. Those words hurt and debase our experiences. They allow us to be written off as a neck rolling, finger popping, ’round-the-way caricature right next to the welfare queens, the Uncle Toms, and the mammies.

Seeing her on the stand reminds me of all time times I had to fight my way out an assumption.

Like when I first moved to New York and left my keys in my apartment after a day of Target shopping. So, there’s me on my stoop surrounded by bags of pillows and sheets, wearing some getup from Urban and probably one of these Longchamp totes everyone carries. I’m sure I looked suspicious. And I’m being serious. I actually went out of my way not to ask people to let me in, fearing some unforeseen outcome started by a misunderstanding. I called my roomies and waited. But then I got tired and reached for the door when someone breezed through. But what happened next was not breezy.

My friendly neighbor jerked the door from my hand and asked what I was doing. I slid my shades up and cheerily introduced myself as the new neighbor from apartment 63 and I reached out my hand to shake hers, but she wouldn’t take it. Fine, I thought, maybe that was naïve of me. I then shared that I was locked out and was waiting on my roomies to come back. She snarled back that burglars plagued the building and that I don’t have to get an attitude with her. I, shocked, squeaked out that I lived there and asked how I was “giving attitude” by stating that? I don’t think she liked that because then she, even more loudly, said that I needed to stop getting an attitude and that because I was getting an attitude, she wouldn’t let me in.

So there I was, a proposed burglar with an attitude on the verge of tears. A few minutes later an actually friendly neighbor let me inside and let me put my things in his apartment while I waited. I sat outside my door confused and retracing what I did wrong, wondering if I really needed an attitude check.

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My attitude face.

A year later, I found myself at a gig where despite my cheery “good mornings” and “how are yous,” I heard rumblings of my being “the Black girl with the attitude.” I must note, I was not only the only Black girl, but also the only person of color, so I knew they were talking about me. Oddly, the folks saying this weren’t ever that nice to me, but in the moment I didn’t care about that, I cared about making them like me; I cared about not being the Black girl with the attitude. My solution was to be so nice it hurt. I sent links to one about his favorite band, I took lunch with the other and asked thoughtful questions about their stories, and through it all I never stopped smiling.

That didn’t matter though, everything I did was thought of as aggressive. Eventually they stopped gossiping about my “attitude” and said it directly to me when they were informing me of my uppityness. What did I do? I smiled and brought in candy for the candy dish, of course.

Both times, I was so neutered by the accusation of having an attitude or being Black and angry, as my human ability to emote was taken as opportunity for someone to put me in my place.

But in this moment, seeing Jeantel be herself while the Internet is filling up with articles about her skin color, size, dialect and socio-economic background and while also dealing with a defense that questions her ability to speak English is showing me someone who’s not folding. It’s showing me someone who is strong, and not in a “strong Black woman” frame, but in her ability to speak her truth from her hyper-examined perch — and I can only imagine what it’s like there.

And for that very reason, along with her laid bangs and tri-lingual tongue, I hereby name Rachel Jeantel as my new patron saint of Black girls.

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XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Cambrey Thomas on XOJane!

  • http://twitter.com/whitney1016 Whitney TenSixteen (@whitney1016)

    mixed feelings about this. I don’t want Rachael Jeantel to be strong. I want her to be human and she’s a human dealing with something most of us will never have to, at the age of 19, no less. (but I get what you mean about her not being “strong black woman” strong. truth.) and people knocked me for saying it may be harder for fat, dark girls to love themselves AAAAAASSSSSSSS they posted mean pics of this child all over the Internet. Lord help us and our internalized hate.

  • Jen

    Wow excellent article. It’s seems that just being black and a woman is equal to suspicion, untrusting, and attitude. Especially when we speak up about being mistreated.

    I fully agree with your saint hood. This is who we are as black women, and we need to learn to accept each other, because tearing each other apart isn’t working.

  • http://elegantblackwoman.blogspot.com Elegance

    Seriously? Maybe you should set your aspirations higher like someone who achieved something great, saves lives, changed the world etc. I wish people would stop acting like Rachel is just like every other Black girl because that’s so untrue. A year ago, if someone held up Rachel as a typical Black girl a lot of Black folks would be totally offended by the stereotypes! You don’t have to identify yourself with every person just because they are black you know?

  • ….

    “This is who we are as black women”….huh???

  • Idabean

    There is one MAJOR flaw in your article and your logic: Rachel is the PRIMARY witness in a racially charged, high profile case of a teen who mas killed and not here to defend himself. Said teen was her friend. His parents are sobbing in the courtroom, desperate for justice. When you are the primary witness and the lawyers in said case said you will be there two more hours, don’t scream out in the middle of your testimony “two hours!”. Don’t do that. It is disrespectful to the deceased, to the tortured parents of this beautiful boy and to the justice system. Yes, she should have been prepared but as I have said, common sense is not specific to being rich, educated, or anything else. We all have common sense. She is 19, not 9. Trayvon deserved better than this flippant, rude attitude. You are in a court of law. We need to teach our children a bit more about protocol. That is not respectability politics, it is common sense. When you are there to defend your friend who was killed ( I call it murdered by a blood thirsty racist) , have the decency to treat like it is important instead of like you are at the DMV and your number has not been called.

  • meagain

    She was on the stand as the primary witness for a racially charged, major case. She could have conducted herself better. When the attorney told her she would be there for two more hours, she shouted out “2 more hours”! Unacceptable. Trayvon deserved better and so did his parents. This is not racial politics, it is common sense. Let’s not make excuses for her flippant behavior. Trayvon is too important.

  • http://gravatar.com/loverloverlovertalia kiki80

    It’s not an either or proposition. You can admire the “greats” while still honoring great qualities in ordinary people.

  • SE

    Like I said in an earlier post, black people will defend certain ignorance and lately, Rachel is that person. Rachel is getting the sympathy card because she’s the only black witness so far on this trial so some blacks feel like they have to support her. They will overlook everything else and focus on her skin color.

  • Erin

    As a black person, you could be the most intelligent, kind-hearted human being on the planet, and they will still attach these racial stereotypes to you just because of the color of your skin, even those within your own “race”. At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to be who I am, regardless of what they or we may think about me just from looking at me. I’m tired of appeasing them and assimilating just to be partially comfortable in this society. Rachel is who she is, and she’s not going to change because she was sitting on the witness stand. This case isn’t about her, just like it isn’t about any of the other witnesses. The only reason she’s receiving so much backlash is because she’s a young black woman, that refused to be anything but herself. They would judge her negatively regardless. Just like they judged Trayvon, and just like they’ll judge any other person of color, just because they’re a person of color.

  • noirluv45

    Hmmm. Black people will defend certain ignorance, yet, wait a minute…wasn’t it white people AND black people who stepped on Rachel and squished her in the ground? It looks like WE, THEY or any other pronoun you want to attach to black people is erroneous.

    Everyone took their potshots. I mean, the people doing so have a crown of glory on their heads and a robe of righteousness, right?

  • noirluv45

    Erin, you better tell it!!!

  • Apple

    Idk because from the gate her attitude sucked . It’s a murder trial of your friend and you say “I didn’t even care about the diposition/interview!”(with Trayvon parents lawyer) it’s a bit much. I feel like she gave it . away.. He might walk because of this, I don’t know why y’all cutting her so much slack

  • sparger

    If Zimmerman is found guilty we will say in spite of Rachael he was found guilty. If he is found not guilty we will blame her. The girl ca’t win. Many of the things we are whining about have been done by white witnesses. They have described wet grass sounds, couldn’t remember the exact wording in a deposition.

    We are expecting way more of this girl than anyone else. I wonder if she has a learning disability. She is 19 and is a rising senior in high school. She had someone else write the letter to Trayvon’s mom. She told a few lies to hide her identity, but the story she told and the time line matches perfectly and lines up with the other evidence. I don’t think she hurt the case at all.

  • SE

    @ Apple

    Thank You! I don’t understand either but like I said before, I think it’s because she’s the only black witness so far so some black people are giving her a pass and ignoring the things she has admitted to like not taking the deposition seriously and lying about her age etc. I’m sorry but that doesn’t look good on her part.

    I don’t know what some of you were watching but I witnessed someone who didn’t take this case seriously, didn’t want to be there and could care less. She even admitted that she lied about her age because she didn’t want to get involved with the case so how is that “helping her friend?”

  • DoR

    Let me ask you a question: if heaven forbid your dear friend was killed and a year later you were the primary witness in his case, hwo would you behave? Rachel NEEDS to change on that witness stand in order to get JUSTICE for Trayvon. Sometimes, we HAVE TO DO things we don’t want to do but we must. Don’t be rude in front of a judge, don’t roll your eyes and don’t act like you don’t want to be there. I judge her because we need justice and she failed. I judge her because her attitude stank. If my mother ever saw me acting like this when I was young, boy I’d be whooped. We were NEVER allowed to have sassy mouth and that was just at home. Can’t imagine at a testimony! You are have very low standards for her. Are you the one maybe judging her as incapable of doing better?

  • DoR

    We seem to have very low expectations for this 19 year old. Are we the ones being racist for thinking she was incapable of doing better? Cause she needed to do much better. Much better.

  • WhatIThink

    To all those defending Rachel, let me ask this. Would you want this to be your daughter, mother or sister? Would you want her to be the role model for black women in America? And if so why?

    Sorry, the woman cannot read English and is 19 years old in the 12th grade.

    NO. That is not behavior that ANY black person should be cosigning or supporting under any circumstances.

    And the fact that many of us do shows just how far we have fallen as a people.

    50 years ago black folks had to fight and brave violence to get a good education. Now they treat education as optional and ignorance as OK.

    Sorry, I cannot get on this pain train to nowhere.

    Like I said somewhere else, black folks have devolved to the point where white folks will be looking hip cool and slick while black folks look like weirdos wearing fake multicolored hair and grimace with a wig.

  • http://gravatar.com/sparger sparger

    Rachael is not a role model. She is the girl that Trayvon was talking to. Wishing and moaning will not change that. I am sorry he was not talking to a Rhode scholar the night he was killed. I submit many of us know and have people in our family like Rachel. Her hair is not important her nails aren’t important. Her hair was black at trial and her nails were one color.

  • [email protected]

    To be completely honest, when I first saw Racheal J’s cross examination I was frustrated. I was frustrated with her cadence and presentation, I wanted her to speak with more confidence, be more articulate, and to be truthful I was a bit embarrassed.

    What changed my attitude was first: The hateful comments, I begin to see words that were so hurtful and malicious. The sole purpose of those statements were to debase, discredit and mentally tear her down based on superficial aesthetics.

    Secondly: As a black woman I understand how it feels to be judged on a perception rather than fact and personal experience. Hold on wait… I know some black women can Identify with this following statement being said to them… “Why you got a mean mug on your face, smile”. We could be having the best day of our lives yet, we’re told to smile based on how we appear to the world.

    We don’t know the intricacies of Ms. Racheal J’s life, so we must not judge. I support this young sista and you should too!

  • Jess

    Hey I thought the exact same thing!! Thanks for voicing this perspective.

  • apple

    but that doesn’t excuse her being rude and disrespectful. she lacks more than education… you can be uneducated but still know better..its a murder trial for godsake!

  • noirluv45

    Rachael was a friend of Trayvon Martin’s, not a role model, a celebrity, or anyone else the public knew before her appearance in court.

    People are people. Why does this woman have to be a role model for black women? Is she supposed to represent all black women? Don’t many of us, just like every other group on the planet, have varying personalities and educational levels.

    When some black people stop internalizing every damn thing and stop worrying about being stigmatized by someone we share ethnicity with, then we will have jumped a huge hurdle.

    Who said people were cosigning her educational level? She got on the stand and did what she was supposed to do. Was she perfect? Heck no. She has flaws just like the rest of us.

  • http://gravatar.com/tashman2012 TT

    Rachael Jeantel is not 10 years old; she’s 19. She should be able to articulate her thoughts better. And she most likely shouldn’t even be in the 12th grade. She’s not a role model but it’s sad to see this young woman struggle to effectively convey what happened that tragic night. Yes she was raised that way but what does that say about black communities and schools that are willing to pass a child through a grade if they can’t properly express themselves? It’s not about racism but it’s about expecting more from our young people. Racism will still happen even when we are well dressed, well spoken and well educated. But does that mean we can just sit back and allow incompetence because white people or whoever else will still be racist against us? How does that help us as a people?

    Her testimony was consistent and did not change even though the defense attorney tried to discredit her. Unfortunately, I feel the jury will discredit her because she had an attitude and couldn’t express herself in at least a coherent manner. I just wanted to yell through the tv, “Girl Speak Up!” I don’t think it’s wrong for people to expect better but all the comments on her looks etc have nothing to do with the actual case. I do know what it’s like to be judged as a black woman based on stereotypical ideologies and I realize that’s probably why many black people have criticized her.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! I swear some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Not saying you have to condone R. Jeantel’s behavior but if she was the opposite of her behavior do you think people would not talk smack about her? If you think the answer is no, you are diluting yourself. Could she had better coaching and mentally prepare for the duration (and the exhaustion)of this trial sure but that is a moot point now. She is NOT on trial and despite that others didn’t like her jargon or presentation; her testimony about what happen to Trayvon Martin relatively REMAINED the same from her end. Just because she is not acting the way you want her to be or showing her feelings how you want it doesn’t mean her testimony was crap.

  • Abby

    As the saying goes “Common sense is not so common.” Also just because someone is considered “gown” by America standards it does not men they are grown mentally. Look at RIck Ross for example, this man is almost 40 and he wrote a song about putting a “molly” in a woman’s drink and these other 30+ year old rappers who act and dress like they are still 17.

  • Daijana

    I’d probably be afraid and nervous. I’d struggle through it because frankly I’ve never been in that place before. But hey that’s empathy.

  • Darcy

    I agree. I am not saying she needed to speak of behave like a Harvard professor and she is certainly not deserving of the mockery of her appearance. However, someone should have prepared her for how to behave in such a crucial case. Whether it be her family or lawyers communicating with her, someone should have just prepped her on what to expect.
    Maybe she felt emotionally drained and couldn’t imagine being there for that long… I dont know. I just feel out of respect for Trayvon and his parents she needed to been more cooperative.

  • Darcy

    * have been

  • lea

    “We could be having the best day of our lives yet, we’re told to smile based on how we appear to the world. ” best comment…story of my life.

  • Nic

    I agree, plus let’s look at how white girls (Casey Anthony, Jody Arias) who are actually the defendants behave. In the case of Casey they got off scott free and Jodi will likely avoid the death penalty for a brutal murder despite being arrogant, self-involved, showing no empathy for her victim, and showboating at every opportunity.
    White privilege at its finest right there.
    As people said, she is who she is. She isn’t the killer. And hopefully she can get justice for her friend but we see that black young men/children are not seen as being vulnerable so it’s a steep, steep, slope that must be climbed for this half-white man to be found guilty of killing an unarmed black child.
    It’s funny how black adolescents are viewed as being fully formed adults who should behave as such but young white 20 something women are given passes due to their “youth”.

  • Yb

    Black people can be so damn pathetic. Instead of blaming your oppressors, the white jury, and Zimmerman defendants you blame Rachel. If Zimmerman gets off it’s because of the JURY, THE JUDGE, and ZIMMERMAN’S defense. Not some girls attitude. You’re a pathetic coward. No one cares about your mother, your home, or you. This trial isn’t about you. Complain about the damn near white jury and the lawyer mocking Trayvon’s death by saying knock knock jokes.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    Apparently many of you don’t know much about 18-19 year olds. At that age, a lot of kids have attitudes when dealing with adults. They just do ( black or white, of whatever economic class). It’s benign, but there is an attitude and they rarely see the bigger picture, as Rachel didn’t. When she was in that hostile situation, I am sure to her mind, it wasn’t about Trayvon, “it was about her.” She had no experience with lawyers or the system. As a lawyer, I see this as a fail on the prosecutor’s part. They should have prepared her for a hostile cross examination. The prosecution in this case is abysmal. I am more shocked by these non helpful witnesses the prosecution is presenting than by anything Rachel did.

  • RaiseTheBar

    http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/06/rachel-jeantel-testifies-in-george-zimmerman-trial-gets-attacked-online/

    I viewed the video on the above link and I did not see nor hear anything in 19yr. old Rachel’s demeanor and testimony that warrants criticism.

    She is GRACE under fire.

    Why with some of the “criticism” of her, mainly her (I guess???) non-usage of “Corporate English” there is NO mention that English is not her 1st language? It also may not be her 2nd language but her 3rd language – YES, Rachel speaks 3 languages.

    Rachel Jeantel grew up speaking Hatian Kreyol (or Creole), and later learned Spanish and English.

    I like this young lady, I like her a lot.

    I FAN and FAVORITE Rachel Jeantel!

  • lola289

    @…..
    I agree but I think Jen is just saying that “we” are different and have various attitudes and behaviors be it good or not so good…

  • Tonya C

    I was born to Haitian and Jamaican parents who were uneducated. We grew up in Philadelphia. My mom was a maid and my dad worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher then later moved his way up. I am multilingual also. My parents were strict, loved church and told us to do well in school. Sometimes I didn’t but I tried all the time. I eventually got into U of Penn. I am one of many immigrants’ children who have excelled like Judge Sotomayor and Sidney Poitier. Being multilingual does not prevent you from being fluent in English. Someone failed Rachel. The school system and her parents. She came here in the 2nd grade. I lived in a heavily Hispanic community not long ago and their children speak very good English so do the offspring of many Asian immigrants. They have gone on to be top of most schools they attend. I resent the idea that somehow because we are multilingual, we are believed to be incapable of excelling. Anyway, people criticize her because she came off rude. The Prosecution failed her. Many people have failed Rachel. We immigrants have done great things in this country, multilingual or not. No excuse. Unless she has a learning disability which I don’t think she does. However, if I were her school, I’d try to find that out.

  • Tonya C

    You can speak 3 languages but can you speak them enough to get a job, read an essay, read cursive, compete with the offspring of Cambodian and Chinese immigrants whose children are getting perfect scores on SATs? Her English is not functional. At 19, I find that sad. I am concerned that you think a teen who can’t carry a complete English sentence is ok. Soft bigotry of low expectations?

  • Kev

    Bad seeds are everywhere but if there wasn’t such a low ratio of decent people to hood rats, the racism / detractors would be practically nonexistent.

    Just too many bad parents and peers. “Mama said not to snitch” is one of the dumbest things i’ve ever heard. Lets do the community over and protect the crims!

    Stupid hardcore racists are few in number. There’s alot of people who just want the blacks to get their ‘stuff’ together. Poverty, racism, blah, blah. People come from poorer nations and do well because they work hard and just get on with life…

  • RaiseTheBar

    I like, admire and support Rachel Jeantel, the individual, in the arduous role she has unfortunately been placed.

    Working with Attorneys both professionally and personally, if I was Rachel’s age, I would have been happy to be 1/3 as composed as she was on that witness stand.

    NO individual is an island; NO one just wakes up one day who they are or who they aren’t. IF this young lady is challenged to navigate her way through the complexities of the concrete jungle, then a whole lot of people are FAILING, period. — her community, school, teachers, parents, friends and family and they ALL HAVE TO STEP up, rally together in support of her and get her whatever help she needs.

  • RaiseTheBar

    @ ArabellaMichaela

    Based on these comments, it appears that most have had no dealings with Attorneys or legal proceedings.

    I work with Attorneys both professionally and personally and based on the video I viewed of the Prosecutor questioning Rachel, I found her demeanor very impressive.

    At 19yrs. old I would have been TERRIFIED and PETRIFIED to be subjected to being the Star witness in a highly-publicized murder trial, so much to the point when I opened my mouth incoherent gibberish would have come out.

    As for the Defense Attorney, he doesn’t care about Rachel’s TRUTH; so, if her character gets drug through the mud on the road to clearing his client of Murder charges, Oh Well, it’s just collateral damage.

  • summeria

    Your article leaves me a little baffled. I dont quite relate to your kowtowing to your white neighbors in the fruitless pursuit of getting them to like you. Being perceived as having an attitude is par for the course in being a black woman. You either succumb and people please or you rise above it. Mrs. Obama is grace under pressure however the attitude characterization has been applied to her frequently.
    In regards to Ms. Jeantel I did not find her behavior disarming considering the images of black women that are routine via reality television. Her testimony or lack thereof depending on who you talk to, seemed the result of poor prepping by the prosecution. She is NOT on trial…..lets remember that please.

  • http://gravatar.com/jswindell Nean

    I haven’t watched the case but I can understand many sides here. Not sure about the FL court system but in Cali, they are laying ppl off left and right. From what I’ve seen as a juror, she would be lucky to meet with a lawyer before the case, let alone anyone who could teach her about etiquette.

    As far as family or friends goes, that may just be one of those things that was innocently skipped over.

  • MySister’sKeeper

    We are talking about a 19 year old being subjected to hours of testimony. And let’s not forget that prior to this, she was subjected to many hours more of repeating this story, incluidng a full deposition. As a lawyer, I can tell you that her attitude is VERY consistent with people of her age. Why are we so hard on our black youth. Stop acting like she did something so out of the norm. As if white children know better “protocol.” Man, it’s just ridiculous how much some of us want to see white people as better when there is NO evidence of that.

    Fortunately the jury is comprised of mothers who will hopefully see that a surly black teenager is no different than all surly teenagers.

  • MySister’sKeeper

    You have no idea what this child has been through. But I’m sure she appreciates your hypothetical in which you are of course superior and judgment.

  • RaiseTheBar

    “resent the idea that somehow because we are multilingual, we are believed to be incapable of excelling.”

    I’m (guessing???) that my mentioning that Rachel speaks three languages was taken by you to mean that in some way has anything to do with excelling or failing scholastically? If so, you are very wrong.

    FIRST, I do not perceive Rachel as a fail in any form or fashion. She is an admirable “INDIVIDUAL”.

    SECOND, I am the descendant of American Slaves whose father INSISTED me and my siblings know how to conduct ourselves outside our 10 block home/school radius.

    THIRD, I spoke the “language” for the lack of a better word as everyone else in the communities in which I grew up (NOT slang, but also NOT “Corporate English”). So, I won’t allow myself to imagine MY personal challenges had I been multi-lingual.

    FOURTH, I graduated from High School at the age of 16 with Honors.

    FIFTH, I attended a “BUSINESS” High School, the place of the beginning of my “LEARNING” my Capitalistic Corporate Environment “etiquette” (i.e., demeanor, languaging/wording).

    LASTLY, with all this “Preparation” for Capitalistic Corporate america Environment, I STILL would NOT have handled myself as well as Rachel did.

    So, Again, I FAN and FAVORITE Rachel Jeantel!!!

  • XdeMon

    Prosecutor wasn’t allowed access to key witness. So they had no preparation. Plus it had to be hard being in the same court as ur bfs killer.

  • ….

    ” As a lawyer, I can tell you that her attitude is VERY consistent with people of her age”……Not true

  • Tonya C

    Raise the Bar: I am not sure the purpose of your post above. Maybe you think I was attacking you. I wasn’t. I too am the descendant of slaves. On my Jamaican side, I am descendant of marooned slaves. On Haitian side, we have part South American and part French. I am also an American and proud of it. I am as American as you. I teach Spanish and English (as a volunteer) to Hispanic adults in Philly in addition to the full time career I have. I am fully aware that immigrants can face linguistic challenges. Rachel, like many other black teens going through our public school system, is facing the same linguistic challenges as non Americans do. This is tragic and we must do something about this for the sake of teens. I would be ok with Rachel’s linguistic challenge if she conducted herself in a way that helped the case. Like I said above, it is the Prosecutor’s fault. Despite this, I still can’t accept that a teen who may not have had any dealings with the court system would think it is ok to make snarky remarks, roll her eyes and raise her voice in a court of law. I refuse to believe she is that clueless.

  • RaiseTheBar

    “I still can’t accept that a teen who may not have had any dealings with the court system would think it is ok to make snarky remarks, roll her eyes and raise her voice in a court of law.”

    Attorneys in “questioning” can push buttons. One of the my attorneys, whose office billed me thousands of $, showed up to court unprepared, asking me questions I had answered a number of times in the past and “I believed” my answers were documented by his firm. So, I have first-hand experience at losing composure in a courthouse and I’m well past 19yrs of age.

    When one feels grossly disrespected and/or being attacked, what she knows intellectually can too quickly lose out to what she feels emotionally.

    My brother put it best re: the coping skills we developed while growing up:
    Fight or Flight?

    But when one is in the hot seat and can’t run and hide and hasn’t had years and years and years and years of working and constantly working on developing better coping skills, then one behaves the only way one knows how to behave.

  • tesa

    Chad Joseph did well. he is the 15 year old black teen who testified too. Funny, the media has not discussed him at all.

  • a D

    Fool bye!!

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  • Bar2

    Ms Martin, Trayvon’s mom, is the embodiment of black female strength. Her testimony today is an example of how you conduct yourself in a court of law. She LOST A SON and managed to maintain calm and cool in order to help Trayvon. Rachel just did not care. She is a trainwreck and she is 19, not 10. She is a grown WOMAN. I have no time for her attitude. Ms Martin is the patron saint of black women not Rachel court nails. Let’s raise the bar here.

  • Camille

    Omg. I apologize for this rant but…Can I just say that when I watched this young woman give her testimony I was embarrassed for her. I was embarrassed for her because she was trying to maintain control in a situation that was beyond her comprehension. she was attempting to go toe to toe with well educated, well spoken, well polished white men who were continually patronizing her and maKing a point to have her repeat herself again and again. It seems to me like in her everyday life she would react to someone who was getting on her nerves with atittude, eye roll etc. And as a thirty year old white woman I would probably do the same… those lawyers work hard to rile you up and make you look bad. She was clearly emotional. What bothers me the most about every body’s reaction to her is that people like her are the majority in this country. there are more poorly educated,poor people, of all races then there are a well educated, well polished, well to do people. And that’s not an excuse. That woman should have spoken better english, she is an american. I agree that the system and her guardians have failed her. It is sad that so many people are allowed to fall through the cracks and that there are people who don’t value education or make it a priority for their children and that the people in positions of power aren’t better advocates for the disenfranchised. But that happens everywhere, not just in black communities, but in all poor communities. but what’s worse is that this woman has become a spokesperson for her race. She is not all black people she is one black person and she is her own person. and it is racism that fuels this discussion whether you are her champion or her detractor, one person should not speak for an entire race. They can’t wether they want to our not. Just because someone has a long brown hair, peachy skin and blue eyes doesnt mean they have sh!t in common with me. When I watched the babykilling casey anthony on the stand I did not feel any connection to her as a white person or as a woman. I do not feel that she represented me in any way and i didn’t feel the need to route for her as a fellow white woman. I think she’s guilty and there’s a very good chance that Andrew Zimmerman is guilty but there’s also a chance that he acted in self defense. There’s more to the story than we will ever know and I find it interesting that so many people want trayvon to be completely innocent. Its a racial issue all the way to the bone. Did andrew Zimmerman racially profile trayvon as a criminal or are people racially profiling andrew zimmerman as a racist? I still think oj is guilty but I never met a black person that did (not to say there aren’t any) but I think a prevailing mentality was that people were pointing fingers at o.j. just because he was black. And I think that idea led to a guilty man going free. I think we all suffer from the plague of racism in ways we don’t even realize. Its a very visceral issue that everyone can potentially experience.

  • Carry

    I agree with you. Looking under-eyed at people, smacking her mouth and the disrespectful manner of her voice and body language you should not be accepted or praised.

    Would you accept service from this female? What type of company will hire her with this mentality and demeanor?

    I know I need a lot of practice and correction with my use of grammar and much more when it comes to writing and speaking proper English but I expect the bar to be raised and i met that level not lowered and patted on the head.

  • Carry

    Have you watched the next top model? They always have to correct the black females about that mean hard look on their face…why? I do not understand that look— Ask yourself this question… If one person said I look angry or sad but I feel other wise… did I check myself to see how i real feel…. and if more and more people say the same… something must be wrong…could it be your face expressing the wrong look? That you… have been conditioned by your surroundings to look and act a certain way and for some reason not allowed to be yourself?

    I have children of dark complexion…when they speak…it is of learned American English and their face is of a smile and uplifting… do you know blacks people of their age tell them they are not “acting” black… why must you act anything but yourself.

    Stop being conditioned by the media and musical groups.that tell you …you have the right to be angry because you were slaves…none of you were slaves nor understand what it means to be rejected from learning and punished for trying to learn.

    If you want to support her as a person–help her be a young lady and not a street thug.

  • Carry

    You are correct; she should have been prepared by their lawyers before going on the stand.

    However, your point of her age doesn’t hold water. I have children that age and have met others of various colors that understand no matter how they feel about persons of authority they understand there is a protocol and respectful behavior.

    This public school system has failed our young people. I work at the community college in my area, where teachers have to adjust their classes to teach the basics of reading, writing, and math for the so-called younger groups.

    I remember learning how to read and write cursive in the 3rd grade and from then on we had to write our assignments in that manner but they have thrown out handwriting for computers that correct your work for you. How is that teaching anyone to group their thoughts or how to write a proper sentence?

    Yes, yes, I know I have problems in that area too, but I am still learning at the age of 52, and I will not stop learning and advancing in knowledge. I do not want the bar lowered me and I refuse to adjust that bar for anyone else.
    I have adults and children with learning disabilities that have learned to read, write, and be respectful to others. There is no excuse in this country for her or anyone else for lack of education and proper behavior.

  • Carry

    I have heard she knows 3-languages– but does that excuse her behavior not to be able to speak proper or close to proper English…No!

    My children have learned different languages from their diverse group of friends but still understand how to act and respond respectfully.

    I know people her age that have learned more languages that can conduct themselves properly…to brag about her knowing the language of her surroundings is not a great accomplishment in this era.

    I would like to see these people that are fans and supporters of her attitude provide her with a job representing their company.

  • Carry

    This is appropriate behavior for an individual that understands how to respect authority. He is the one that all of you should be applauding… not Jeantel

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  • missrae

    His name is George. Not Andrew.

  • http://clutchmagonline NellTick

    The reason she was having to repeat herself was because she refused to speak up so even the jurors could hear. And you can’t blame the system or her “guardians.” Blame her for her attitude.

  • http://clutchmagonline NellTick

    If Rachael was such a good friend to Trayvon, why did she get so angry and rude when the defense attorney said she’d have to return a second day for more testimony?

  • JP

    Wha-a-a-at, you were expecting manners from a prosecutor on a launching pin toward great career? LOL!

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