Rachel Jeantel and Our Uppity Negro Problem

The rules of language, personality, society as a whole are an interesting case study when talking Black and White. Seldom do you hear of our Caucasian friends being embarrassed by someone’s speech or existence, especially in a world where Honey Boo Boo and her wacky cast of characters – I mean family – are celebrated and broadcast across the nation on National TV. Unfortunately, Black people are easily embarrassed and offended by our own, and never was that more evident than Wednesday when the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before he died, 19 year-old Rachel Jeantel took the witness stand in the George Zimmerman trial.

Jeanteal, the girl who Trayvon was texting when Zimmerman allegedly followed him and talked to him shortly before the altercation turned violent, was fine with the questions the prosecution posed, but things got testy real quick when Zimmerman defense attorney Don West began his cross-examination.  Rachel became quickly annoyed with West’s circular reasoning and open-ended questions, an obvious trick to try and trip up a young black girl of Caribbean descent (we’ll get to why this matters in a bit).

There were questions about the nature of Rachel and Trayvon’s relationship, the conversations that happened the night Trayvon was followed and a comically pathetic moment when West tried to object to his own question.  If you’re scoring at home (and really watched Wednesday’s proceedings), we’ve got witness badgering, objecting to one’s own question and a veiled attempt at slut shaming, things that certainly make Mr. West a candidate for the sleazy defense attorneys’ hall of fame. But even as insulting, annoying and hurtful as Don West’s line of questioning was, it really couldn’t hold a candle to the shaming of Rachel Jeantel by blackfolks on Twitter.

Every other tweet in regards to her testimony was cyber cringing, openly questioning her education, her looks as well as retweeting her less than sparkling tweets. Her attitude could be seen as a problem by the jury, which is understandable even if I don’t agree with it. But what annoyed the living hell out of me is the uppity Negro section on Twitter who felt the need to mock and insult a teenaged girl still grieving over the violent and sudden loss of a dear friend.

I really don’t understand why we as Black people are more embarrassed by ourselves than anyone else. Actually, I do – we’ve been so conditioned by the majority in this country and society to act, speak and think a certain way that when someone who doesn’t fall in line with what we (and White America to be honest) feel a Black person should be, we automatically deem them embarrassment and cringe and shudder with every single thing they do. And Rachel, a South Florida girl of Haitian descent, was the target of Uppity Negro America’s scorn on this day.

It’s embarrassing to think that we still have these issues as far as talking white/talking ghetto, acting bougie/acting hood and the like, but it needs to stop. Immediately. In case you forgot, the Supreme Court thinks that the Voting Rights Act is outdated and no matter how you speak, how much money you make, you’re still Black and you’re still gonna have Hell to deal with when trying to vote in coming elections.

So instead of focusing on Rachel Jeantal’s speech and mannerisms, focus on the fact she was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin while he was alive. And her testimony, which never wavered even the face of insulting and Cracker Jack box questioning, still helps the prosecution build a solid case against George Zimmerman.


21 thoughts on “Rachel Jeantel and Our Uppity Negro Problem

  1. Well written! The pressure of being on that stand and knowing the defense attorney would try to twist her words had to be overwhelming. Another example of our black youth having to grow up too fast.

    • As an English observer, the whole questioning in the trial showed the world exactly what we already know. Miss Jenteel is and was a liar. Simple. Mc Donald’s filled, grotesque to look at and less intelligent than a 4 year old British child. The only shock, to an educated nation as ours is why blacks in America did not kill, maim, steal and pillage anymore than they did. I guess , as usual, Al Sharpton did not get his appalling way again, some innocent whites had to die and a few blacks got some new electrical goods and new sneakers……..what’s new?

  2. I was one of those who face felt hot w/ shame as I watched ( and listened) to Rachel pretty much reinforce practically every stereotype about Black people known to man. Bad attitude- check!, Poor diction- check!, Angry Black Woman-check! Borderline Ignorant- check! Poorly Educated- check!, Overweight-check! At one point I turned away , it was just too painful to watch. Speaking only for myself, I can say that my feelings of embarrassment had nothing to do with me being “uppity”. It had everything to do with understanding the dynamics of this country. That being how all Black people are viewed as some sort of single entity. Like we all think, act and exist with a single shared brain. It is the same shame I feel when I see us responsible for particular crimes, or act it in front of others, or being interviewed on television with a head rag on, etc. I know when people look at that Black rapist, or that loud woman cussing the cashier out in Target’s, they dont just see the individual person- they see me.

  3. The problem with black America is that you are dumb enough to defend Rachel Jeantel. Instead you reach into your well-worn playbook of “it isn’t our fault” and “have been conditioned.” If cultural superiority had the effect of conditioning than Asian Americans, who come over here poorer than African Americans, facing a language barrier that African Americans don’t face would also show the effects of this conditioning but instead they are the richest most successful demographic in America (yes richer than white people.) Asian Americans made up 5 percent of the population last year yet 60% of the National Merit Scholarship winners. This acting, thinking and speaking society is “imposing” on you is called, say it with me, civilization. Civilization only works when “green” means go and “red” means stop for EVERYBODY. When people call their inability to perform at that same base level everybody else is performing at “cultural” all your really saying is “I am inferior.”

    • I feel the need to respond to your post about Asian Americans. Everyone seems to believe that Asian Americans are somehow this “model minority”- smart, obedient, business minded and successful. And while I cant substantiate your claim that they are “richer than white people”, I am aware of the asian market on general success in the USA. It is important to point out the following however. Number 1 and most obvious is this is not ALL Asians. I lived and worked in New York as a helping professional for many years and I can tell you that those Asians who are poor,
      criminally involved (which is primarily directed at each other), mentally ill, uneducated or dug addicted are largely segregated from the larger society. Asians are notoriously private and problems are handled (for the most part) within their own community. So in other words, we as a larger society are not being exposed to those less than stellar Asians. The second point is perhaps less obvious and this is not only Asians but applies to other immigrants as well. I think anyone will agree that it takes a certain amount of tenacity, bravery, cojones, etc to get migrate to any country. So with that being said, the USA gets an influx of “the creme de le creme of Asia” . In other words, the lazy, poor, uneducated, stupid, immigrants aren’t flooding America. They stay in their own country. So the “model Asians” are what we get. You also write: ” If cultural superiority had the effect of conditioning than Asian Americans, who come over here poorer than African Americans, facing a language barrier that African Americans don’t face would also show the effects of this conditioning but instead they are the richest most successful demographic in America”. It is not that simple, Asians are viewed as the ideal minority and are not subject to the same type of discrimination and blocked opportunities as Blacks. Their history related to their entry into America and their relationship with the majority here is vastly different. So all of this combined makes for the type of Asian you speak of. So, while I agree that “green” and “red” should mean the same for everyone, it is never that simple.

    • Unfortunately the Liberal media, meaning Al Sharpton, was allowed to high-jack popular opinion early on. Now what we have is a sham trial put on by prosecutors to show the world what really happened. The politics behind these charges and this case stinks to high hell.

  4. Call me elitist or uppity, but I was embarrassed by her diction. And I was doubly outraged by her cavalier attitude on the stand and her attempt to lie about her age. That put her credibility on the line and could very well have compromised the case.

    Furthermore, I’m really insulted by the notion that because she’s of carribean-descent she speaks poorly. I am native New Yorker of caribbean-descent and I have impeccable English. Furthermore, my father is a native of Barbados and he is a linguist who could tell you the etymology of any word without consulting a dictionary. Growing up, my siblings and I weren’t allowed to use the word “ain’t.”

    This shameful display should serve as a rallying cry to stress the importance of education and impel parents to turn off the damn tv and/or computer and read to your kids. Otherwise, you get that tragic mistake who testified.

  5. Just be embarrassed she was a dumb human. Nothing to do with race. West did a good job. She was hard to understand and she had obviously been inconsistent and outright lied. Demonstrating the key witness to the last few words spoken by Trayvon is unreliable and a liar is important. If it wasn’t for her lies charges may never have been laid. So far it seems obvious self defence.

  6. THis has nothing to do with uppity black people. i am from the hood myself. But its very very embarrassing watching her on the stand talking like a 6 year old little child. when she is a 19 year old college student at the u of miami.

    and all this black women defending this woman. What about charles Ramsey the hero from cleveland. Black women destroyed him all over the blogs, Black women made fun of him. So why are the same black women defending this uneducated lady< who is on her way to destroying the whole trial to get justice for Trayvon martin.

  7. I admire the fact that she is not ‘impressed’ or ‘intimidated’ by the court, attorneys, or anyone else. She has her ‘distinct’ way of speaking, which I find refreshing. She is not a phony, and not afraid of those ‘phony’ lawyers!! Good for her!! Everyone does not have to speak or act alike!!! 71 yr.-old-white woman… I like her….

  8. Oh for crying out loud. I am so sick and tired of hearing or reading the phrase “speaking white”. What does color have to do with one’s conscious decision to butcher the hell out of a language? She sounded like a buffoon, pure and simple. And why is it when a black person decides to speak the language eloquently and coherently, that they are somehow “letting down” the so-called “black community” and labeled as a self-hating Uncle Tom?

    I have virtually no respect for someone who goes out of their way to speak like a mumbling idiot, especially when they have unfettered access to learning materials. She chose to act and sound like a dunce, and I don’t give a damn what color you are; I would just as soon not deal with anyone who speaks the way she does.

    All of this “Ebonics” horse manure is not a cultural triumph, and it doesn’t make one look like they are thumbing their nose at the man. It makes one look like an uneducated, purposefully ignorant moron.

  9. Good grief! Apparently the majority of the responders here have never had an experience with someone outside their own social set. Ms. Jeantel was remarkable, and did a great job given the circumstances. She’s different. Don’t we pride ourselves in this country for our DIVERSITY?????? She’s the face of diversity. Get over yoirselves already.

    • I agree, the over reaction has to be from people that have never been anywhere or associated with anyone outside a small circle of their own clones. I think that the reaction to Rachel Jeantal shows you how deficient the substitution of the “virtue tolerance” was for the old Christian edict of “brotherly love”.. I thought she was fascinating. I think her version of the phone call at the end was a contrivance, that she was schooled into hearing wet grass, but that is beside the point.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel’s remarks to the defense attorney. He was making “retarded” statements. She had a right to be annoyed with him. She just said what others would be thinking if they were on the stand. As far as her diction, it didn’t phase me in the least. I loved her. (66 year old white woman).t

  11. It’s not OK that she is that way, it should be something to strive for, clear-speaking and intelligent discourse leads to a better life.You can’t tell me you think she has a bright future,…can you?The better you can communicate, the better you are, closing yourself off in a community or with people that will not allow for growth is doing ALL races a disservice, but mostly disservice to blacks in this case.If you don’t understand a court of law isn’t a place to get “uppity” then you didn’t get a decent education, were probably raised poorly, and will continue the cycle with your children, because you weren’t informed that you may not be the best person to perpetuate life.
    Here’s a horrible stereotype I’d lay money on, follow that woman for 10 years, I bet she’s collecting welfare and has at least 3 children by at least 2 different men.
    If she’s a teenager (she’s a 20 year old high school student) then I’m king of the USA.

  12. I love this….civilization isn’t civilization, it’s “white culture”; black culture isn’t a reactionary thrust at whites…it’s “diversity”…c’mon folks…what we all need is a good old-fashioned race war…that’ll sort it all out,for better or worse…ANOTHER BROTHER IS DEAD AND ALL WE DOING IS TALKING…yep, so right…

  13. As a Haitian woman raised in Queens NY I was appalled at Rachael Jeantel. Haitians who come to the U.S. have pride. Education is valued. The way you present yourself to the outside world reflects on family. I do not know many Haitians who think Rachael Jeantel was an articulate women. >

    My parents taught me i will be judged by my color. So prove them WRONG! We spoke well, but were made fun of for trying to talk “white”. I still cannot figure out what that was about. Had to respect elders,no matter what race. had to succeed in school. It paid off.

    Now people are making a big deal of the fact she speaks 3 languages as an excuse for her poor English. well, if her education was in the U.S. then she should know how to speak English properly. Most Haitian Americans speak 3 languages. So what? Does that make s all articulate and “Smart cookies”? I also wonder if she is fluent and correct in her other languages.

    Please do not use the uppity bit on me. My father was raised in a house with dirt floors. Had np father in the home. Had to borrow books in order to get by in Haitian school since his mother could not afford books. Holes in shoes. But when he had the opportunity to come to the U.S. learned “proper” English.

    Went back to college. Got his master’s degree and help a high position in a large NY hospital. The key is self respect . But he also knew if he did not learn the language, no opportunities would be given to him. If we spoke Ebonics,no matter how intelligent we may be, we would perpetuate the stereotype. Tough love works. accepting mediocrity does not help them succeed.

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