Oh, my. Here it comes now: The Victim Parade.
In the wake of star witness Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman case, a flood of narrative shaping litanies has been unleashed decrying the maltreatment of said star witness. MsRachel_94‘s Twitter feed has as its tagline the words, “My Character And Action Describe Who I Am” and after 7 mostly combative hours on the stand, in which she fairly spat the word “Sir” at defense attorneys, most of America is familiar with both her character and actions. She is the face of underclass black America, and indicative of its attitude toward anyone not swaddled in the suffocating hold of black underclass culture.
In one such litany called What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel, author Rachel Samara displays part of what it is that irks so many American whites. It’s in the very first line:
A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel. Let’s just be real here.
After a lifetime of being told we are not to pigeon-hole people, that we must treat them as individuals deserving of respect for their human status, to see a women on a black-oriented hip hop website resort to the exact same behavior she spends 20+ paragraphs decrying is annoying. Nevermind that Samara is a thin blond chick or that one could easily portray her the same way people on the left portray the women of Fox News: as a disingenuous foil being used for her looks to sell a point of view the group of men in charge don’t believe in. That’s just icing on this poisoned cake.
In another screed at the Sad Bastard Bar, an actual immigrant stands in defense of the American-born, English-speaking Jeantel because she couldn’t be understood. The defense offered? The same one used by the prosecution; she had a Haitian mom who spoke Creole sometimes. This is being portrayed across the web as The Most Important Reason she couldn’t talk straight. This false sympathy chaps at the hide because Jeantel spoke good English when she wanted to, and she spoke clearly when she wanted to. The problem wasn’t her English, it was her apathy and attitude, her insistence on proving her hood credibility in a court of law, and on national television.
No one in that courtroom gave a shit about her hood credibility or her court nails, and for good reason. It was a court of law and a second degree murder trial, one in which one young man was dead and another young man’s life was hanging in the balance. This is serious shit requiring serious attention and serious conduct.
A black man at DailyKos, the clearinghouse for progressive race relations, has a recommended diary called The Digital Lynching of Rachel Jeantel. Like the other articles linked above, it’s heavy on emotional exploitation and light on logic. In Vyan’s telling, Rachel:
…was an amazingly shy teenager. At times introverted, distraught and occasionally brittle. She was not Media Trained. She’s not massively articulate.
This of course didn’t stop her from becoming a laughing stock online.
Among the great ironies of this diary is the linking of a Salon article within it, where a quote about her not being blond and thin, and there goes her credibility…was included, which I suppose brings us back to Samara from the first linked article.
The irony and assumptions present in the articles about white people are astounding, and will do little to cultivate alliances with white people who genuinely care about Civil Rights issues. Oh, sure, those who speak the progressive language, who’ve gladly slapped on their white guilt shackles, will get it, but those aren’t the kinds of people these authors need on their side. That is, if changing what they perceive as evidence of white racism is their agenda. I’m not convinced it is.
The upside to all of this is that we are, finally, getting to have that conversation on race that President Obama said we needed to have in 2008. I want to do my part. What I perceived of Jeantel was that she is evidence of the failure of our national attempts to address race relations, to end racism in America. She is exactly the kind of person I avoid in any government office, or while shopping or seeking services. Her hostility toward life in general, and white people in particular, is not something I want to have to deal with. And yet, I do, often. Read more…