What ‘White People’ DO Understand About Rachel Jeantel

White_breadOn Wednesday and Thursday of last week, GlobalGrind went out of its way to advance The Lyin’ King’s vision of racial harmony. Both pieces received over 30,000 Facebook “likes.” Both opinion pieces established a premise, as fact, that white people can never understand the black condition. Both pieces went out of their way to reinforce that what was on display during Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial, was not actually what was seen and heard. What makes this worth noting is that this is deliberate balkanization of a segment of America. It seeks to replace justice with self-serving cant.

Back in the day, the racial dismissal in vogue was “it’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand.” The problem with that assumption is that any sane person, of any color, really does understand. Rachel Samara, who authored the first pre-emptive strike, ”What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel”, said, among other things:
— “I can imagine George Zimmerman’s defense is just hoping some of those 5 white jurors have some prejudices … or hell, are even racist, because if they are, their tactic to make Rachel out to be less intelligent, rather than less credible than she actually is, might actually work. “
— “It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like – a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.” 
— “Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it – ”

To begin with, an assumption of what the defense or prosecution has in mind is not fact. It is bigotry. They hope the jury is racist? If Samara is insistent that white people can’t comprehend black people, how can anyone believe what she postulates about white people? Next, Jeantel’s “Haitian descent” is irrelevant. Jeantel is a native of Miami, not Mars. The cultural difference is not “exponential.” It is non-existent. Finally the defense proved, conclusively, that Jeantel lied; not in “the past” but on the stand. Jeantel gave evidence that she’d written and sent a letter, cataloguing what Martin said to her, during their last conversation. When asked to read that letter Jeantel admitted that she did not write or send it. By her own admission, this “intelligent, 19-year old high school student” confessed that she is unable to read or write cursive script. The letter was written in cursive script.

Christina Coleman amplified the pitiful Jeantel angle with a piece entitled “Why Black People Understand Rachel Jeantel.” To be clear, Coleman includes Latinos among white people. Presumably, to use Samara’s and Coleman’s paradigm, “white people” must be anyone that isn’t “black.” Coleman reckons Jeantel was bullied by the legal system:
— “…instead of trying to understand her, people are reducing the miscommunication to semantics… her broken ‘Kings English,’ and her anger. Without even realizing that she comes from a home where Creole is her first language, or that her friend was killed just seconds after he last spoke to her. Wouldn’t you be frustrated in front of a court that refuses to understand you?”
— “… if there is anything that black people can understand that those judging her are not, it’s the loss of life without justice.”
— “…your world and our world are … excuse the cliché … worlds apart. And that, my friends, was never Rachel Jeantel’s fault.”

My first language isn’t English, either. Jeantel had enough English to use racial epithets as frequently as punctuation. Coleman’s question presupposes that Jeantel, in the entire history of American jurisprudence, is the only witness that has ever been “upset” on the stand.

About the author: Marilyn Assenheim

Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area.

View all articles by Marilyn Assenheim

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