A Few Thoughts About Being on the Witness Stand and Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

A few thoughts on Trayvon Martin‘s friend Rachel Jaentel... The minute that sister took the stand, jokes were flying around twitter about her looks and her weight… People were going in and saying nasty jokes about how Trayvon went out with Precious etc etc…

I’m sure the sista has heard such cruel jokes in real life more than a few times.. I can only imagine what sort defensive postures she’s adopted over the years to rebuff such remarks.. maybe she’s over aggressive, maybe she’s shy and stays low-key, maybe she makes lots of jokes, maybe she drowns herself in drink and drugs..who knows?

Hearing that she wanted to stay hidden and out of the public light had me thinking that was because she didn’t want to get the public ridicule.. It’s the type of mean-spirited ridicule that many had levied on Olympic champ Gabby Douglass when she was competing, one could only imagine what this sister, Rachel would’ve been dealing with if she had made herself public long ago..

On top of this, we still have someone who was a good friend to Trayvon who was the last to talk to him who lost him violently..To my knowledge, there weren’t grief counselors who went to Trayvon’s school and made sure his friends could process this sudden loss..

Like so many of us who come from the community, we are expected to suck it up, not cry and see the violent passing of love ones as some sort of truth about how tough we are and how tough are respective hoods are.. We ain’t supposed to need counseling, therapy or any sort of comforting to help get our mind right..

So we have a 19-year-old girl, who is overweight, dark-skinned who is supposed to ‘have her mind right’ because those who were going in on her supposedly could’ve and would’ve if they were on the stand… Some the harshest judgement directed at Rachel were from so-called professional, academic types, the sophisticated folks who saw Rachel as more of an embarrassment vs someone who was good friend to Trayvon..She even had folks like Lolo Jones, the Olympic athlete who herself was ridiculed, weighing in and adding to the viciousness. She compared Rachel to the character Medea and has made no move to apologize even as she herself as recently as a week ago is still upset and battling with those in the media who said nasty things about her..

Instead of thinking of Trayvon and respecting the fact that this was his friend as overweight and as dark as she is, many were projecting their own insecurities and bias on him and her.. Again this all before she started to speak..

Now lets talk about being on the witness stand..Many who talked crazy and judged crazy have themselves never ever been on a witness stand.. Many have not been a reluctant witness.. I recall being on the stand several years ago for the defense and being questioned for two hours before the cross-examination started.. I was not spoken too or prepared by the lawyers as to what to expect.. I’m a public person, I think I’m fairly articulate.. I have education and I speak as journalist for living, so being before a crowd and answer questions off the cuff is second nature to me..

When you’re on the stand and the job of the lawyer cross-examining you is to discredit you, its one thing to know it in theory and intellectually, it’s a whole other ball game when it’s happening, especially if you never gone through it..I recall when on the stand, the prosecutor asked me a couple of questions and then out of left field he pulled up an article I had written and read a sentence which on its own made me sound crazy and foolish..

He set me up my asking if I wrote the article? I said yes, then he asked me if these were my words.. and read the quote.. I said yes and tried to explain and was immediately cut off.. In a harsher more stern tone of voice that made me feel like I was 6 years old, he repeated the question are these your word? Yes or No..

I tried to explain and was instructed by the judge to answer yeh or nay.. I answered slowly almost like Rachel.. ‘Yes I wrote those words’.. My mind-set was anger and wanting to let everyone know in the courtroom there was a larger context to what I was saying..

The prosecutor upon hearing my ‘Ye’s answer said to the court “this is the type of individual we are expected to believe, someone who thinks like this who will pen these words in an article…”

Next the prosecutor pulled up my MySpace page and read my status update.. All this caught me off guard.. I wasn’t on trial I was a witness for the defense.. and he read my status which was ‘NYPD are dipshits’. Again i was asked yes or no is this whats on my page..

I tried to explain, and was cut off which had me even more heated.. Then the prosecutor said something to the effect that my juvenile ramblings were not very becoming of someone of my stature and profession.. Officers of the law gave their life on 9-11 and are more professional than you..

I wasn’t asked a question, but I responded, very slow and deliberate with major attitude just like Rachel.. ‘I wrote that because the officers who you claim are professional shot Sean Bell 50 times and not one of those so-called professional officers apologized..”

The prosecutor without missing a beat said something to the effect that my ramblings had sullied my profession and he was glad I wasn’t covering a story he was involved in….then he dismissed me.. I started to answer back.. and was stopped by the judge..

With all that I know about media and public speaking experience, degrees etc..and the 20 + years in age I have over 19-year-old Rachel Jaentel, I let my emotions get the better of me.. especially when my words were twisted and ridiculed.. I was only on the stand for cross-examination for 20 minutes, not 5 hours like Rachel.. I wasn’t on TV and there weren’t newspapers around digging into my past or making fun of my looks..Nor was I traumatized because of losing a friend..

I was angry that they took my words out of context and was mad that they saw my MySpace status update and ran with that to try and discredit everything I said earlier during being questioned by the defense..

I share all this to remind folks, what seems easy and no big deal isn’t always the case.. All I had that day was my truth and I left feeling like I was the one on trial.. I’m sure Rachel felt that and whole lot more.. The closest thing I can think of that might make this experience a bit more relatable is when you get pulled over and have to deal with rude arrogant cop who treats like you like crap.. Some are able to bite their tongue and endure the humiliation, others lose patience and wind up arrested or even dead.

I think Rachael told the painful truth..and was made to feel like she was on trial in that court and still on trial in the court of public opinion.. Even the daughter of the defense lawyer was taking instagram pictures calling this sister stupid.. Rachel is seen as everything under the sun, but a good friend of Trayvon Martin who she lost to unwarranted violence..

That’s some food for thought…

-Davey D-

Comments

  1. I wish people would stop making fun of fat women. I’m fat now, and I’ve been fat on and off since puberty. She was very close to Travyon, and if she is anything like me, I know that one of the ways I respond to major life tragedies like the loss of a loved one is to get depressed and gain weight. It is hard to want to get out and do things when you’re suffering a major, personal loss and to become more sedentary because you are devastated and you feel bad, it’s easy to want to eat comfort foods. I also wish people would stop telling dark skinned women that they aren’t beautiful. This happened to my beautiful dark skinned mother, and in the end, the reason I am mixed is at least partially because the brothers kept rejecting my mom for being too dark and too tall and she ended up meeting a white dude in college. My mom *is* beautiful, and the thought that people won’t let her feel as beautiful as she is makes me want to cry.

  2. It is insecure people who ridicule people in order to feel better about themselves.

  3. so what about her size she a person too

  4. Davey, I felt the same as you. I went on to tell people who approached me concerning Rachel, that if you don’t have teenagers or enter act with them daily you wouldn’t understand where Rachel was coming from. People can be so hateful until it becomes meaningless as to what they think. Rachel was authentic. .Defense lawyer’s daughter should apologize, what if Trayvon was her brother, son or relative.

  5. You know what it is. It’s that pesky self-hatred we have been injected with. Negroes don’t know no better and white folk, well it’s what they do. 9 times outta 10 they got someone that looks just like this sista in their family and would flip if someone talk greasy to them. This young lady is doing a good thing and by the time this is over they are going be burying her self esteem right next to Travon.

    Let’s just be glad her name is not one of those crazy names we can sometimes name our children.

  6. Coming from a low income area of central Florida I know many people who look,sound, and act like Rachel. That could have very well have been a relative or friend of mine on that stand. I can’t understand how people are being so hateful and disrespectful towards this young lady who is telling Trayvon’s story. Without her we would only have Zimmerman’s side of the story.

  7. I think the writer here has some issues. You only added to the ignorance when you wrote this.

  8. If nothing else, Miss Jeandel’s story should let her generation realize that it really is about more than just being connected with the crew and different cliques. I did’nt try to feel her pain on the stand, because that is her cross to bear and possibly explain to her peers that this is the real world. For all their “street cred” and such, how many of them know that it now takes more than your Miranda Warning to gain your freedom from police custody, or that they can be strip-searched, even if they are just being detained(for the officer’s safety) in handcuffs, or in a holding cell. You are now required to invoke your Self Incrimination Right before Miranda even comes into play.

    Let them scoff and laugh, Miss Jeandel. You did the right thing, but the defense gets paid big money to discredit you. How much these others were paid is anyone’s guess. If it is indeed the causation of your situation, parents should take great strains and pains to insure that their children are educated. I recently lectured my just-turned-21yr old Grandson that, “If you want to keep a generation of us uneducated, poor and downtrodden, put it in print.” If we can listen to it, we won’t read. And that’s the sad part of this story

  9. i hate living in america – i will try my best to leave it and never come back

  10. Good article. In your case (and in Rachel’s) it’s the duty of a good attorney to not only prepare a witness for testimony, but to do “re-direct” examination, if he felt that the case could be helped by having the witness fully explain and put things into context. Unfortunately, (but understandably) I don’t believe that Rachel really wanted to go through hours of prep work with the prosecutor, which may have contributed to her having such a hard time on the stand. Of course, she is a key prosecution witness, so there was little doubt that the defense was going to go at her as hard as possible. I hope that the jury sees that West was ridiculing a helpless high-schooler who really didn’t want to be there in the first place, and is turned off by his antics.

  11. Wow I have to read up on this – 15

  12. Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers will go to any extreme to get their client off, and to look good. Ha! Fat Chance…There is a piece on ABC / Huffington Post, discussing Rachels’s character. Why she lied about her age. Why she did not attend Trayvon’s funeral. Why she is not a credible witness. What difference does it make? Guilty is Guilty, is it not?

  13. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, Rachel Jaentel seems to have done her best to tell the truth and be loyal to her friend, Trayvon. I think that is how she should be judged. Simple as that.

    But the fact that at first, both Rachel and Trayvon’s dad didn’t think it was Trayvon’s scream on the audio recording is most damaging. And therefore, I believe the prosecutor doesn’t stand a chance to over come Florida’s stand your ground law, and so Zimmerman will ultimately get off. There is just too much reasonable doubt for a criminal court.

  14. Liz Charles says:

    I don’t know how people survive such trauma. To lose your friend/boyfriend like that and then be pulled apart by the public. I hope she has a good support base. People can be so hideous.

  15. I didn’t know anything about this I guess because I live in the uk. its a shame the mainstream media don’t write articles like this. People definitely should support her not tear her down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her looks but its none of my business anyways, we should always have respect for people. But even more so for her being Trayvon’s friend. I wonder, if she was male not female, if it would make a difference how she’s being treated? Please keep writing articles like this that get the truth out.

  16. She was also really pretty, with a gorgeous smile. She spoke with respect and used sir over and over even when she was being abused. And she kept it together for two grueling days!!!!! How many of us could have hoped to be that strong. This girl was amazing!!

  17. Absolutely brother Wendell Jones.

  18. Beside’s DaveyD’s timely article here,showing how slick talking lawyers & DAs can make even well educated media savvy [Black] people [IE: himself] look bad [to white], I recommend @ Slate: ‘Rachel Jeantel Gets the Trayvon Martin Treatment’ [@ http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/06/28/rachel_jeantel_witness_in_george_zimmerman_trial_gets_the_trayvon_martin.html ]. It starts off w how Z-,man’s attny tried to humiliate Rachel Jeantel w that letter stunt- which she sent to Trayvon’s mom explaining details of her last phone call w him just before Z-Man gunned him down! Whats key AIN’T her inability to read & write cursive [FYI: she admits a friend helped write the letter], but that this letter was totally consistent w her testimony. Key points that Ms Jeantel made are:
    – While talking on the phone to her, Trayvon said “a man’s following me”
    – He told her that the guy looked like a ‘creepy ass cracker.’
    – Trayvon then told Ms Jeantel that he was going to try to “lose the man.” & hurry back to his dad’s home.
    -. A short while later, he tells her “this nigga’s still following me.”
    – She told Trayvon to run & she started hearing wind. He told her he was going to get home “through the back way.”
    – Trayvon tells her that he’s almost home. She can hear he’s out of breath. He tells her that he “lost” the man following him.
    – But shortly there-after he says “Oh shit, the nigga’s behind me.”
    – She hears the exchange between Z-Man & Trayvon w Trayvon saying: “Why are you following me for?” & then Ms Jeantel heard a “hard-breathing” Z-Man say: “What you doing around here?”
    – She then heard a bump & grass sounds, like they were rolling around &/or the phone dropped on the ground. She asked Trayvon what’s going on & she heard Trayvon saying “get off, get off.” Then the phone shut off…

    Of course this testimony [along w the crime scene layout] shows it’s Z-man who stalked, pursued & then started a confrontation w Trayvon- NOT vice-versa! So Z-Man’s lawyer’s gonna try every slick trick in the book to make Ms Jeantel look bad to a 6 women jury- w 5 white-women over age 35 on it. So he nit-picked about why Ms Jeantel didn’t come clean to Trayvon’s mom RE why she didn’t attend his funeral- which should have just been between her & Trayvon’s mom & dad [IMO the Judge should NOT have let Z-man's attny even ask this question].
    Some key facts RE Ms Jeantel’s back-ground: Her parents are from Haiti & the Dominican Republic thus her 1st & 2nd languages are French & Spanish Creole, w English as her 3rd language. I doubt Z-man’s slick talking attny [& the 5 white-women on the jury] can speak more than standard US English which is just a [poor] spin-off of UK’s ‘Queen’s English’.
    IMO the white ‘Hate-Her-Aide’ toward Ms Jeantel AIN’T really about her size, lack of ‘sophistication’ nor inability to read & write cursive. If so then why the same type of white ‘Hate-Her-Aide’ toward Venus & Serena [for their entire careers till this very day] & FLOTUS Michelle Obama [all have been depicted as apes & all have been called fat-assed]??? They’re all well educated, articulate & successful [Venus & Serena are 2 of the greatest women tennis-players in history]. So what’s the common link between Ms Jeantel, FLOTUS Michelle O -&- Venus & Serena- They’re all DARK-Skinned BLACK Women from working class &/or working-poor back-grounds, & do NOT have ‘Barbie-Doll’ figures & looks!!!

  19. my thoughts exactly.

  20. straight ignorance

  21. ok #19

  22. No one said anything about the Spanish women who couldn’t speak English, the Procecuters should have gotten an interpreter for her and let her speak Creole. There are plenty of people in Fl that speak creol or French Patou’ or use the same interpreter the Spanish lady, and Let her speak Spanish, knowing the English was her Third language.

  23. Or French…which ever one works.

  24. ok nice #19

  25. So, fat girls can’t have friends, is that what the twitter freaks are saying? Also, people are making fun of her inability to read/write cursive. Didn’t they stop teaching cursive writing in public schools? So, where is she supposed to learn it?

  26. Real easy to hate and point fingers, you only have to look at Mr. Zimmerman defense team.

  27. Grammar please says:

    Get an education and learn proper grammar. [..] does not have to go after every sentence, a period will suffice.

  28. “how tough are respective hoods are”…it’s “our” hoods not “are”, you uneducated goofball. Go back to writing graffiti.

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