The rules of language, personality, society as a whole are an interesting case study when talking Black and White. Seldom do you hear of our Caucasian friends being embarrassed by someone’s speech or existence, especially in a world where Honey Boo Boo and her wacky cast of characters – I mean family – are celebrated and broadcast across the nation on National TV. Unfortunately, Black people are easily embarrassed and offended by our own, and never was that more evident than Wednesday when the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before he died, 19 year-old Rachel Jeantel took the witness stand in the George Zimmerman trial.
Jeanteal, the girl who Trayvon was texting when Zimmerman allegedly followed him and talked to him shortly before the altercation turned violent, was fine with the questions the prosecution posed, but things got testy real quick when Zimmerman defense attorney Don West began his cross-examination. Rachel became quickly annoyed with West’s circular reasoning and open-ended questions, an obvious trick to try and trip up a young black girl of Caribbean descent (we’ll get to why this matters in a bit).
There were questions about the nature of Rachel and Trayvon’s relationship, the conversations that happened the night Trayvon was followed and a comically pathetic moment when West tried to object to his own question. If you’re scoring at home (and really watched Wednesday’s proceedings), we’ve got witness badgering, objecting to one’s own question and a veiled attempt at slut shaming, things that certainly make Mr. West a candidate for the sleazy defense attorneys’ hall of fame. But even as insulting, annoying and hurtful as Don West’s line of questioning was, it really couldn’t hold a candle to the shaming of Rachel Jeantel by blackfolks on Twitter.
Every other tweet in regards to her testimony was cyber cringing, openly questioning her education, her looks as well as retweeting her less than sparkling tweets. Her attitude could be seen as a problem by the jury, which is understandable even if I don’t agree with it. But what annoyed the living hell out of me is the uppity Negro section on Twitter who felt the need to mock and insult a teenaged girl still grieving over the violent and sudden loss of a dear friend.
I really don’t understand why we as Black people are more embarrassed by ourselves than anyone else. Actually, I do – we’ve been so conditioned by the majority in this country and society to act, speak and think a certain way that when someone who doesn’t fall in line with what we (and White America to be honest) feel a Black person should be, we automatically deem them embarrassment and cringe and shudder with every single thing they do. And Rachel, a South Florida girl of Haitian descent, was the target of Uppity Negro America’s scorn on this day.
It’s embarrassing to think that we still have these issues as far as talking white/talking ghetto, acting bougie/acting hood and the like, but it needs to stop. Immediately. In case you forgot, the Supreme Court thinks that the Voting Rights Act is outdated and no matter how you speak, how much money you make, you’re still Black and you’re still gonna have Hell to deal with when trying to vote in coming elections.
So instead of focusing on Rachel Jeantal’s speech and mannerisms, focus on the fact she was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin while he was alive. And her testimony, which never wavered even the face of insulting and Cracker Jack box questioning, still helps the prosecution build a solid case against George Zimmerman.