Regular readers will recall that I have not, in any substantive way, addressed the issue of race in the Trayvon Martin case. I have addressed it only to note that there is no evidence whatever to suggest that race is involved, quite the opposite. However, the proponents of The Narrative have labored mightily to conjure racism out of thin air.
NBC News ended up firing a number of employees, arguably including the boss, after it was revealed that they tried to make George Zimmerman look like a racist by selectively editing his call to the Sanford Police. CNN had to retract its hysterical reports that Zimmerman called Martin a “fucking coon” when its own experts revealed that Zimmerman actually muttered under his breath–in a cruel and unprovoked attack on Florida weather–“it’s fucking cold.” The FBI, no doubt at the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder–he who called Americans “a nation of cowards” for allegedly avoiding discussion of race–conducted an exhaustive investigation of Zimmerman, hoping to find evidence of racism for federal charges. They not only came up empty, they discovered that he has a black ancestor, and therefore far more black blood than the non-existant proportion of Indian blood in blonde, blue-eyed Elizabeth Warren, AKA Fauxcahontas. They also discovered that when a homeless black man was beaten by the son of a police lieutenant, Zimmerman waged an impressive public campaign on his behalf against the Sanford Police.
In fact, Zimmerman’s only mention of Martin’s race came in direct response to a dispatcher’s question about his race, and was delivered with no more emphasis or animosity than his mentions of Martin’s height or weight. Oh yes, and Zimmerman is actually Hispanic. All of this, to the Black Grievance Industry and the Media, somehow equates to racism, though Scheme Team member Daryl Parks recently denied ever thinking race was involved (I took that whopper to task in Update 32.2).
The renewal of the assault on American’s supposed racial cowardice comes as a result of Rachel Jeantel’s explosive testimony (also recounted in Update 32.2). I say “explosive” in the sense that her testimony blew up in the faces of the prosecutors. This is manifestly obvious to observers who are willing to consider facts and evidence. For those who still cling to The Narrative, it is simply not possible that Jeantel did not deliver as Benjamin Crump has always claimed she would. According to Crump, and the prosecution, Jeantel’s testimony would prove beyond any possible doubt that Zimmerman murdered Martin in cold blood. Yet, confronted with the unmistakable proof that her testimony actually supported Zimmerman’s case, her own admissions of perjury, her invented testimony leaping into the case for the first time from the witness stand, and her angry, rude, crude, and blatantly inappropriate behavior in court, combined with her often unintelligible and nonsensical testimony (she somehow heard grass over a cell phone), The Narrative was clearly in danger of coming completely unglued. How can the credibility of a witness that is a virtual textbook example of an utter lack of credibility be restored?
Christina Coleman, publishing in the Global Grind, attempts to answer that question in an article titled “Why Black People Understand Rachel Jeantel.”
If ever I thought myself objective and unbiased, the George Zimmerman trial is definitely not that moment.
So let’s cut to the chase. Any attorney, jury member, judge or white person in that courtroom is not going to understand Rachel Jeantel. And I don’t expect them to.
In fact, I certainly, like my fellow writer Rachel Samara [Samara’s article is similar to Coleman’s], understand why white people wouldn’t like Rachel.
She’s hard. She’s black. And your assumptions about her background and lack of education make you feel like you are better, somehow. That her testimony, no matter how powerful and impactful it may be to this trial, is implausible. Weak, maybe? Let’s impeach her.
Powerful and impactful testimony? Was Ms. Coleman watching the same trial? I suspect the primary assumptions being made are by Ms. Coleman, who assumes that others must think themselves somehow better than Jeantel, apparently because she is black and has a “lack of education.” It is certainly not necessary for anyone to impeach Jeantel; she impeached herself. I do agree with Ms. Coleman on one point: I certainly wouldn’t consider her to be objective and unbiased in this matter either.
But maybe the reason white people don’t understand Rachel Jeantel has something more to do with white privilege then, what they would call, Rachel’s capricious nature.
Let’s for one second try to understand why Rachel is ‘angry’ (read emotional), ‘hood’ (read blunt), and ‘unintelligent’ (read multilingual).
The thing is, what white people see in Rachel has little to do about her own issues, and more to say about the America that white people are blind to.
Uh, well anger is an emotion, but being from the “hood” inevitably makes one blunt, and being multilingual makes one unintelligent? Talk about assumptions! This case, and Jeantel’s behavior and testimony have nothing to do with “white privilege,” but everything to do with truthfulness and credibility. That’s where Jeantel is lacking. Coleman goes on to excuse Jeantel for not calling the police despite her supposed concern for Martin’s welfare. A more likely explanation for rational people of any color might be that Jeantel was lying in one way or another. Perhaps she didn’t actually hear what she claimed to hear. Perhaps she really wasn’t worried about Martin. But no, white privilege keeps us from seeing the deeper truth, just as Don West was unable to see that truth:
Don West doesn’t understand why Rachel didn’t call the police when she heard a struggle. Rachel, who is a black woman, doesn’t call the police. Why? Black people and police officers don’t mix.
The tottering seesaw between black people and law enforcement leaves us in a position where we are afraid to call the cops because we’re not exactly sure they are on our side. And in an age where police responding to calls for help will still result in an innocent black person’s incarceration or death, it’s difficult to know who to trust or turn to during times of need….
The point is, black people can understand Rachel’s hesitancy when it came to contacting the police because the fear and doubt that comes with dealing with law enforcement is as entwined into the tapestry of our culture as is our slavery past.
This line of argument works only if no people of pallor, like George Zimmerman, for instance, have never come to grief through their contacts with the police. And it’s a weak argument indeed that must invoke slavery to sustain it. Here’s the best evidence that Coleman was watching some other trial:
It’s not that Rachel can’t be trusted. In fact, her testimony has remained solid and consistent throughout her nearly seven hours of questioning.
Actually, Jeantel can’t be trusted because she is a confessed perjurer, and because her testimony has changed dramatically over time, and actually during her appearance in court, much of it is nonsensical, and because her behavior made her appear to be untrustworthy.
But all of you white people out there just can’t understand, not only because of white privilege, but because you’re unable to understand the unique culture of black people:
But what’s more are the cultural differences between white and black people.
When asked why she omitted the words ‘creepy ass cracker’ and ‘nigga’ when speaking in front of Sybrina Fulton about her son’s last moments, she simply told the court that she didn’t want to disrespect her.
As West looked at her in utter disbelief, Rachel looked back, unwavering. How could he not understand that she couldn’t bring herself to upset someone who had just lost a child? Better yet, curse in front of adults.
Note: Disrespect to elders in the black and especially Caribbean communities is almost as bad as cursing the Lord.
Ah! So Jeantel was merely trying to be polite! There is no doubt that de la Rionda’s incredibly unethical and inept conduct of his interview with Jeantel put her in an untenable position, and West gave her an out for that reason in court. But this does not explain why she omitted that testimony in her later deposition–under oath–where the Scheme Team and Sybrina Fulton were not present, nor does it explain her entirely disrespectful conduct toward Donald West, and toward the entire justice system, all of the officers of which are surely her elders.
As one might imagine, Colemen invokes the apparently unalienable right of black people–but no other race–to use “nigga” in all its various colorful forms, all the while pretending that the tendency of white people to see hypocrisy in this is yet another of those cultural differences that white people will just never understand. And more:
For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation. And instead of trying to understand her, people are reducing the miscommunication to semantics, what they call 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?
But most importantly, if there is anything that black people can understand that those judging her are not, it’s the loss of life without justice.
And as Rachel Jeantel sits on the stand, nervous, mumbling and annoyed, it’s not that she’s just a ‘hoodrat with no media training from a hostile environment.’
It’s just that your world and our world are…excuse the cliche…worlds apart.
And that, my friends, was never Rachel Jeantel’s fault.
It’s not Jeantel’s fault. Her perjury, her invented testimony, everything she did–or didn’t do–on the witness stand that utterly destroyed her credibility and helped to crush The Narrative, is not her fault, but the fault of white privilege, of white people unable and unwilling to understand her culture–the court was equally unwilling–and the “loss of life without justice,” which can only mean that any verdict other than “guilty” will be injustice. Oh yes, and once again, if Ms. Jeantel was so upset by Martin’s death, why didn’t she tell the police of her involvement (sorry, but Ms. Coleman’s argument won’t work here)?
Very well, Ms. Coleman, having been born, through no fault of my own, white, perhaps I can explain my culture, or more accurately, American culture.
We provide twelve years of free, public education not just to give children the opportunity to learn useful and necessary skills like reading and writing, but to civilize them, to teach them basic rules of behavior necessary to live and work with others, rules without which their success in life will be greatly diminished. In this pursuit, the influence of culture is not ignored, but channeled into productive rather than destructive behaviors. Showing up for a job interview, pants sagging, underwear showing, ball cap on backwards, may be culturally authentic, but it’s an excellent way to remain unemployed.
Black people–and people of all races and cultures–are perfectly capable of being polite, aren’t they? They are perfectly capable of using standard American English (even most residents of the United Kingdom don’t use the “King’s English”). After 12 years of education, they can read cursive even if they can’t write it well; they can form complete sentences and can make themselves understood in any company. They don’t drop prefixes and suffixes, they don’t drop verbs, they don’t turn words into fractured contractions, and they make sense. They understand the value in being truthful, and in not insulting others. All of this, they understand and practice, because they choose to do so, because they know that proper, commonly accepted and understood behavior will not only directly benefit them, but society at large.
Another lesson all fully functional people embrace is that social flexibility is essential. One can–and must–speak and act differently before their friends, in a classroom, and surely in a courtroom. Deciding to be “authentic” (as Ms. Samara wrote), which in Jeantel’s case means to behave in a rude, inappropriate manner in court, has nothing to do with culture, white privilege or racism. It is simply bad manners, and considering the stakes, inherently foolish.
The only way that Jeantel could have aided The Narrative was by presenting herself as an unbiased, calm and earnest person, a person concerned with presenting her part in the case as honestly and credibly as she possibly could. And yes, this would impose the horrors of using standard American English, and of behaving in a manner appropriate to the occasion.
Anyone who had been paying attention in life–and Jeantel had 19 years of practice, including 12 years in American schools–would know that presenting herself as an authentic member of the “culture” about which Ms. Coleman speaks would simply not work. Surely Ms. Jeantel’s personal attorney, and the lawyers of the Scheme Team, and the prosecutors, tried to convince her of this? They obviously had some small success in somewhat improving her demeanor on the second day of her testimony. Are they thereby racists? Are they too–despite many of them being black–unable to understand her culture? Are they betraying their own for political and financial ends?
I judged Ms. Jeantel, just as I have judged every witness during my police career and thereafter, based on their obvious intelligence–or lack thereof–on their demeanor, their ability to communicate clearly, their apparent motives, their body language, their honesty, and their evident humanity. I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of Americans did, and do, the same. Race has nothing at all to do with it. Ms. Bahadoor’s testimony and presentation, despite having its own problems, was far superior to Jeantel’s, and I’ve no doubt she made a much better impression on the jury, yet she too was black. Doesn’t she understand black culture?
To excuse inappropriate behavior by blaming others, or by claiming a cultural exemption from the accepted and well-known rules of polite conduct would reduce the criminal justice system to a snake pit of political influence, where the loudest and most “authentic” voices could triumph on cultural grounds alone. I suspect that in the Zimmerman case, that’s exactly what some would prefer. I judge this, and all cases, on the law and the evidence. Those supporting The Narrative have other criteria that have nothing to do with law or evidence.
Rachel Jeantel presented herself before the court as a very poor witness with a virtually complete lack of credibility for all of the reasons any witness might choose to do that. It had nothing to do with race. She choose to behave badly in a situation that called for the most proper and polite behavior. That was her choice, and very much her fault, no one else’s.