To The Much-Maligned, Willfully Misunderstood Rachel Jeantel: We're Sorry

Abby Zimet

Talk about worlds colliding. For the last two days, the trial of George Zimmerman became an ugly spectacle wherein the confounding nexus of race, class and gender came together in sometimes excruciating, sometimes hilarious encounters between condescending old white guy and defense attorney Don West and Rachel Jeantel, the 19-year-old friend on the phone with Trayvon Martin right before he was killed. In news reports and social media, Jeantel has been pilloried for being fat, black, sassy, street-wise, semi-literate, inconsistent, a wary and reluctant witness - in short, for being herself, and for her "refusal to concede." Jeantel is a brave, raw, young woman, still mourning the loss of a friend, who clearly didn't want to be there, but was doing what she felt she had to do and trying to be heard. As theatrics predictably take over the business of justice, a reminder: Rachel Jeantel isn't on trial here - that "creepy-ass cracker" is. See her stoic, simmering, politically incorrect but perfect response to one too many idiotic jabs by West.

Don West and his daughters after court at their "We beat stupidity celebration." Classy.

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