Trayvon Martin: A Minstrel Mistrial?

trayvon mis

An expert witness is described as a witness, who by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have expertise and specialized knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person. This definition, when analyzing the early testimony of Rachel Jeantel in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, pretty much puts her linguistic critique in its proper perspective. I, myself, was one of several different witnesses in a hate related crime quite a few years ago. I, along with my brother who was also a witness to the same crime, were informed by the District Attorney at the time that he was greatly anticipating both of our testimonies. He said this, with a wry smile on his face as he would go on to inform us as to why he was so elated. We would then learn that the reason behind his smug demeanor was due to the fact that the defendant’s lawyer had been painting both us to the jury as derelicts and thugs. In fact he had grouped us together like a menacing tag team in the WWE; he referred to us as “The Booker Boys”. I am more than sure if he could have added a subtitle to our names it would have been “The Brothers of Destruction” (real kick-asterisk right?). Needless to say, his preconceived thoughts or stereotypical profiling was the type of high-stake, risk taking that you only pack inside your bag on your way to Vegas. This gamble by the defense attorney in assuming that “The Booker Boys” were the same type of African American witnesses he had cross examined prior to us; who had less than stellar reputations, who were less articulate, who were not the so called “ideal” citizen(s) of the community, would be the status quo for us all. This would prove to be a costly assumption for the defense attorney, as his deliberate ploy in believing that what he had painted us as, would be ultimately what the jury would perceive us as. I am more than sure that upon meeting me the first time, I can be a bit polarizing in appearance. Have I had doors locked, pocketbooks clutched and gotten stares like I’m from District 9? Absolutely. Has this perception changed when I open my mouth to articulate words or flash a friendly smile?(brush twice a day) Yes it does. The point in all of this is that perception can be deceptive and to assume does not condition what others will presume (our testimonies resulted in a victory for DA). The same can be said about Rachel Jeantel. As I stated in the aforementioned, an expert witness is a specialized professional with expertise/higher education in a particular field of study. Rachel is a 19 year old young lady who has cameras shoved in her face for the first time. She has heaviness in her heart and just so happens to be a key witness in one of the most publicized trials to date. To hear people questioning her articulation of words and her physical demeanor is preposterous. Pressure does two things: bust pipes or form diamonds. The easiest thing to do is judge from afar, speculate and subscribe to the notion that ” if it was me I would….” or “if my child was up there doing what she was doing I would…”. Really? So now everyone can be an expert and be extremely eloquent? The problem with that premise is that even professional witnesses such as cops foul up (Mark Furhman anyone?) and can come across as inconsistent or fallible. Does this mean we question their education? No. The mocking or mimicking of Rachel Jeantel is as if she was masking as Rhodes Scholar only to be unmasked as a High School graduate posing as one. Her education is not on trial, it’s her believability that is. Her affect on the jury is unbeknownst to us all. This judgment /ridicule is only worth a blood nickel in the court of public opinion, as it has no baring in the court of law. What it does show is how we are quick to judge and love to watch people fail and fall. I’m ashamed and appalled by this heartless behavior and know that we, as humans, have some reevaluating to do. This is not for our entertainment, it’s a murder trial. The judgment/critiques should be reserved for American Idol. Right now people’s lives and reputations are at stake, as we await some form of justice to be levied. The sadness comes in knowing a young man lost his life and another stands to lose his right to a life and all we do is search for humor. Where has the humanity gone?

Linguistics, pronunciation and articulation; all sound words for a blogger or writer to use, but not words we choose to use casually or on a daily basis when talking with our friends. Teenagers use Internet shorthand, play obnoxious music and are still trying to find their voice/meaning in life. We tend to find our voice post high school graduation and it can sometimes be a struggle along the way. We don’t start perfecting life until it is almost too late to enjoy it. If we were nineteen and was having a microscope beamed into our lives, how would we react? What would we look like or be viewed as? I was less polished and had a chip on my shoulder that a bag of Pringles couldn’t hold. Before we all judge, remove all the glass from our own houses, as we are all but a rock throw away from having our own reputations shattered into a million little pieces. Judge not, as ye may be. #Empathy

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