Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(114,904 posts)
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 09:37 PM Jun 2013

Rachel Jeantel on Trial

As much as anything else in the saga of race, fear, and firearms that is the death of Trayvon Martin and the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, a nineteen-year-old rising high-school senior sometimes described as Martin’s girlfriend, served as a kind of Rorschach test. When you look at the prosecution’s star witness, a young woman, dark-skinned and overweight, her eyes signaling exasperation, what do you see?

Social-media commentary on Jeantel began nearly as soon as she began to testify. Crass assessments of her weight, looks, and intelligence from some white observers competed with a cocktail of vicarious shame, embarrassment, and disdain from some black ones. If the trial has become a referendum on racial attitudes, Jeantel’s testimony served as a reminder that none of us have the moral high ground. Of the abundant ironies that this case has generated, perhaps the most telling are the commonalities that emerged while she was in the courtroom: it brings out the worst in all of us.

She was alternately soft-spoken and sharp, grief-stricken and defiant, convincing and contradictory. (It was not always clear whether West was cross-examining her or vice versa.) It was possible to look at Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin when the conflict with Zimmerman began, as an earnest young person confused and traumatized by the near-witnessing of a friend’s death—or as a reluctant, irritable witness whose admitted untruths shatter any hope that her version of events could be believed. Or both.


There are some things about Jeantel that are not hard to believe: that she remains profoundly affected by her friend’s violent death; that she, as much as anyone in the courtroom, was aware of the presumptions that accompany imperfect grammar, race, and obesity; that her initial reluctance and antagonism toward the entire undertaking were products of this awareness. Whether this jury will grade on a curve because a person’s grief roils just beneath the surface, because motive for lying might seem understandable, is—like so much about this case—unknown.


11 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies


(11,464 posts)
1. Rachel is the single most honest and truthful witness I have ever seen in my life.
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 09:45 PM
Jun 2013

Perry Mason wouldn't be able to touch her.

Simply the best.

Wish everyone I knew was as good a person as Rachel is.

I have never, ever seen anyone as believable. There is not a false bone in her body.

My heart broke 100 times in the harassment and abuse the defense attorney did to her.

I wish Rachel were my friend.

To Rachel-

I hope someday, your pain recedes. And the rest of your life gives you everything you desire.

(of course the Supreme Court two days ago makes it so much harder),

God be with you, Rachel.

You are an inspiration.


(6,594 posts)
5. She reminds me of my youngest son when she speaks, too soft, slightly mumbly.
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 10:01 PM
Jun 2013

but with a sharp tongue when vexed. As real as a flower, without guile, without all the pretense the talking heads expressing their judgements. I kept yelling at that lawyer to stop browbeating her. For crying out loud, she's just a teenager, thrust into the national microscope to be dissected as if she were a frog, all for our enjoyment - ugh. All because she was talking to her friend when he was attacked and killed. I wish I could give her a hug.


(103,856 posts)
7. The reason her microphone did not amplify her voice is simple
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 10:07 PM
Jun 2013

She's big-busted and the microphone would not reach close enough to her. All that was necessary was a clip on the lapel style mic...or to have a mic with a longer/ bendier microphone that would reach closer to her face.


(7,820 posts)
8. My heart goes out to this young woman.
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 10:09 PM
Jun 2013

She's been pushed into the public limelight through no fault/desire on her part. Her public grief, her appearance and demeanor, have been put under a microscope and opened to public criticism. She didn't ask for this- didn't go looking for this attention. She's there seemingly trying as best she can to do right by her lost friend and do the right thing in general. She's not particularly polished. She doesn't suffer fools. She's authentic and loyal and grieving for her friend.


(10,937 posts)
10. I think that the biggest problem relating to her testimony
Thu Jun 27, 2013, 10:20 PM
Jun 2013

is that she most likely was not advised by personal counsel every step of the way. Had she had legal counsel providing her guidance and looking at her best interest through all the interviews and depositions her testimony would have been a lot more smoother and she would not be viewed as so controversial witness. She could have still come across as real but made more aware of what would happen and what to expect.

I work with some young people who are not that much older then this girl and they have college educations. My experience with them has taught me that a lot of young people growing up in the social media age is that they tend to put everything out there without understanding the long term consequences of such free sharing of personal information. A lot of young people also don't understand the concept of filter and knowing what things are appropriate to say and what is inappropriate. They may be intelligent but still be totally stupid in other ways. Based upon my experience in dealing with young people I tend more to give her some slack on some of the issues that has some people's panties twisted into knots.

On the points that really matter she was consistent, despite the efforts of Knock Knock to try to belittle her and make her look stupid.

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»Rachel Jeantel on Trial