Rachel Jeantel’s Testimony At George Zimmerman Trial  Feeds Into Stereotypes

In no way, form or fashion was Rachel Jeantel prepared to go heads-up with George Zimmerman's legal team on the witness stand. Right now the discussion is on Jeantel's communication skills, and even her intelligence. Stereotypes are getting fed like checks on the 1st and 15th. 

Jeantel was quiet, but came with an attitude. She was sometimes unclear, and then combative. That can be part of the process, though. 

She's also the key witness in the trial regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy who was killed leaving a corner store following an encounter with Zimmerman, then a 28-year-old man riding around his neighborhood in Sanford, Fla. Jeantel is too important to the case to be misunderstood, or lose focus. 

Yet that happened on Wednesday because Jeantel, at just 19-years-old, had no presence about herself in cross examination. Blame Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump for not preparing her, or the Florida school system for failing her long ago. This young lady doesn't seem to have reached her intellectual potential and showed her immaturity to the world. 

For Jeantel, it's just a horrible time to be a 19-year-old who doesn't really know a lot.

But where was the advising in this situation – the direction? Who allowed her to go on the stand, knowing she was vulnerable for impeachment in the way that she was? And it still isn't over. 

What's happened here is a strategy to knock Jeantel's credibility, reveal her to be unintelligent and agitated, so perhaps there's neither a reason to believe her testimony. Or that Trayvon Martin might be the same kind of person for associating with her. It's dangerous stuff in how it conjures the stereotypes people are trying to get away from, similar stereotypes to what had Zimmerman peg a kid for a criminal in the first place. 


It is a bit troubling how much we've gotten caught up in her personality and not what actually transpired leading up to this kid getting killed, because there are key points where she discusses that. The problem is when it gets long and drawn out, the attorney works her a bit. 

Then there's the way she's being treated on social media. One of my smart homies jokingly said on Facebook "do better, black people" as if judgment on a high-profile black witness is one on us all. The parody accounts for Rachel Jeantel could almost be funny, if this was actually a laughing matter. Even her real Twitter handle is getting ethered.

Let's just be real about it. She's an easy target for scrutiny and unchecked racial undertone.