In case you have not been following the news, Rachel Jeantel is the former girlfriend / friend of Trayvon Martin and last person with whom he spoke before he was shot and murdered by George Zimmerman. Ms. Jeantel has been the subject of ridicule and controversy, since her appearance and testimony at trial.
While many regard her as a role model and look to her as inspiration, others chastise her for their perceptions of her. Pierce Morgan made fun of her on national television by prejudicing her against a juror who spoke about Ms. Jeantel on Anderson Cooper.
A juror said to Anderson Cooper, during an interview (6:25), “I didn’t think it was very credible, but I felt very sorry for her. She didn’t ask to be in this place. She didn’t ask — she wanted to go. She wanted to leave. She didn’t want to be any part of this, this jury. I think she felt inadequate toward everyone because of her education and her communication skill-skills. Um I just felt sadness for her…. uhm well not over her head. She didn’t want to be there. And she was embarrassed by being there because sh– because of her education and communication skills that she just wasn’t a good witness.”
Juror in Trayvon Martin trial speaks on Anderson Cooper
Cooper, “Did you find it hard to understand what she was saying?”
Juror, “A lot of the times. Because a lot of times she was using phrases I have never heard before and what they meant.”
Cooper, “When she used the phrase ah ‘creepy ass cracker-‘”
Cooper, “what did you think of that?”
Juror, “I thought it was probably the truth– [Cooper interruption] I think Trayvon probably said that.”
Cooper, “And did you see that as a, a negative statement or ah a racial statement as as the defense suggested?”
Juror, “I don’t think it’s really racial. I think it’s just everyday life. The type of life that they they live and how they’re living. And the environment that they’re living in.”
Cooper, “So you didn’t find her credible as a witness?”
Cooper, “So did you find her testimony important in terms of what she actually said?”
Juror, “Well, I think the most important thing is is the time that she was on the phone with Trayvon. So you basically, hopefully if she heard anything, she would say she did but the time coincides with George’s statements and testimony of time limits and what had happened during that time.”
Rachel Jeantel hears juror’s interview about her testimony during Trayvon Martin trial
If you watch the interview with Piers Morgan, Ms. Jeantel appeared defensive while acknowledging that the Juror reiterated her sympathy. Yet, Morgan (10:16) said, “You’re uneducated. You have no communication skills. Wha-what do you feel?”
Morgan led Ms. Jeantel into a trail of negative bias against the juror. An objective journalist / reporter / person would have asked, “Do you think the Juror genuinely felt bad for you? Or do you think the Juror was speaking ill of you?”
Rachel Jeantel’s interview with Piers Morgan
There is no doubt that there were inconsistencies with what she said on stand and what she said in the Morgan interview. On stand, she said she did not believe Trayvon’s death was racially motivated, but during the interview, she said she did believe it was a racial incident. Anyone has common sense and/or personal experience with a death of someone, would recognize the symptoms of shock, stress, and grief. Such an experience is traumatic and can affect one’s ability to speak fluidly and coherently. Some people grieve for short periods of time. Others grieve the remainder of their lives. Death has a profound effect.
We cannot ignore the interplay of possible factors affecting Ms. Jeantel’s statements. She mentioned that she has an under bite issue, which makes it difficult for her to speak. From viewing her testimony, we may conclude that she may still be in shock. It is difficult to accept losses of people we love, and we never really want to believe they are gone. The death may have triggered any number of psychological traumas, which could affect her without our knowledge. The bottom line is: she was put into a difficult situation that can cause anyone emotional harm. She was made a secondary victim and secondarily victimized by having to relive Trayvon’s last moments with her over and over again – every time she goes online, turns on the television, listens to the radio, and basically exists. That in itself is very difficult with which to handle, especially as a teenager blossoming into an adult. We are not her doctors. Therefore, no one knows her circumstances, so no one is qualified to ridicule her. Recognizing this, Tom Joyner has offered to assist Ms. Jeantel with her future education and full scholarship to any HBCU (historically black college or university). Thank you, Mr. Joyner. May others follow in your lead.