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JB

I have just about had it with people dogging out 19-year old Rachel Jeantel, who was called to testify on behalf of her friend, Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman.

What troubles me the most, is that a lot of this ridicule and over-the-top criticism has come from other Black folks.

Yeah, I know she had an attitude.  Yeah, I know she couldn’t read cursive handwriting.  Yeah, I know she lied about some things because she felt guilty and nervous. Yeah, I know she hasn’t mastered the King’s English.  But the one thing that I do know about this young lady is that she showed up to testify and never wavered from telling the truth about what she heard on the other end of that telephone line.

Isn’t that what’s important here?

Most of the folks that are tearing her down don’t really understand why she talks the way she does  They don't realize that she is the product of immigrant parents from Haiti and that she speaks three different languages, with Creole French and Spanish being the dominant languages spoken.

I’m not making any excuses about her not seeking to strengthen her mastery of the English language; I’m just simply putting things in context.

Say what you want about this young lady, but I found her to be credible and believable, especially when you get beyond the surface stuff.  I know many people who have a tremendous mastery of the English language and look the part, but are a bunch of lying and conniving deviants.

Miss Jeantel didn’t deviate from her story at all. I found her to be very credible, and beyond that, I found her to be symbolic of what happened to Trayvon Martin.

Like Trayvon Martin, Miss Jeantel has been profiled.  She has been profiled by many people, especially many of our own, Black folks.

Trayvon was profiled because he was a young Black teenager, wearing a hoodie, who "looked like he was up to no good" and was walking around in a neighborhood where Zimmerman, the neighborhood vigilante, reacted in a tragic way that was not based on anything other than how he looked and crimes that had been committed in the past. As we found out, all the young man did was go to the store and head back home with a bag of Skittles and a can of Iced Tea in his pockets.

Miss Jeantel has faced similar profiling, this time in the area of her educational background and look.  I have seen folks on social media and other outlets, ridicule Miss Jeantel with demeaning descriptions and words, based on her communication skills and her looks.  Her only crime was being forced to testify on behalf of her friend who was murdered at the hands of a man that she heard was following him.

Miss Jeantel didn't subpoena herself to be on that witness stand and testify at this trial.  She was forced to by law.  She was nervous and clearly didn’t want to be there for justifiable reasons. I am certain that Miss Jeantel was expressing frustration and hostility, knowing that she was sitting in the room with the man that killed her friend Trayvon.

The memories that she shared with Trayvon, coupled with the fact she was being unmercifully questioned for hours and hours by the attorney of the man she knows without a shadow of a doubt is her friend’s killer, would weigh on me too.  Knowing that these attorneys are doing their best job to help this man get away with the murder of her friend would be overwhelming and burdensome, especially when you come from a culture and background where you are taught not to trust law enforcement or the legal system.

It is the goal of the defense to use Rachel's emotional distress to make her seem confused and unsure of her testimony in order to establish reasonable doubt where there is no doubt that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

Miss Jeantel was not focusing on how she looked; she was only focusing on what she felt at that moment.  She didn’t know how to be an actress and play a role that was different than who she really was. 

I know for a fact that many of the folks who are dogging Miss Jeantel on the witness stand, would do the exact same thing or worse on the witness stand.  I really wish that I could put several of the ignorant people, who are dogging Miss Jeantel out, on a witness stand for 5 hours or more, and grill them profusely on things relative to their comments or things I'm sure they know nothing about.  I am sure their responses and actions towards Miss Jeantel would change drastically.

As a people, our mindsets should be on improving and empowering our young African-American kings and queens, not belittling them and making them feel less than worthy of our praise and support.  We should empower young people like Miss Jeantel, not fault her for her environment. We should all remember that she is not on trial here, George Zimmerman is, and unlike Miss Jeantel, he will more than likely never take the stand in his own defense. 

Personally, I would love to see folks in her immediate area rally around Miss Jeantel and offer to mentor her and help her pave a productive future for herself.  She was bold and confident and those are qualities that will help her do well in this country for the rest of her life. 

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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