The woman pictured above provided the planet with some of the most prolific testimony ever recorded in the history of first-hand accounts. If you are reading this, you likely already know what I am talking about. The prosecution’s supposed star witness was on the stand for two days in what I consider to be one of the most flaw-ridden decisions ever made by any DA’s office ever. If you asked Jeantel’s twitter following to testify on the Trayvon Martin case in 140 character or less, you would have gotten a more credible and resonating testimony than what was coaxed out of her clearly intricate web of complexity. Any objections? Does that sound wrong? Did I not hear her correctly?
That being cleared up, a woman by the name of Khadijah Costley White decided that the way Jeantel has been treated in the days following her wonder testimony has just been a low down dirty shame. She has decided to write Rachel Jeantel a public apology… not on behalf of herself, but on behalf of the entire world. Yes, that includes you and me. How omnipotent of her. Please take the time to read as much of this appeal to pacifism as you can, I’ve included it in red print below and it is available by clicking this link: A Letter To Rachel Jeantel, The Prosecutions Key Witness In The George Zimmerman Trial.
I write this as I watch you testifying, tightening your lips, grinding your teeth in an attempt to be stoic, to not break down while you recount the grisly, too-soon murder of your friend. It was probably the most terrifying moment of your life. I can’t imagine listening, helpless, while my friend was stalked and murdered, panicked and afraid. You told him to run. You thought it would keep him safe. What could’ve been going through your mind that day? Did you worry when the phone was cut off? When Trayvon didn’t call you back or return any of your missed calls?
What could you have possibly felt when you found out that Travyon had been killed? Were you able to sleep that night? Have you been able to sleep since? “He sounded tired,” you said today on the stand. You do, too, Rachel. So tired.
Dr. Costley White starts off by describing Jeantel as this stoic figure whose stoicism just happens to be cloaked in virulent ignorance. After all, she is battling off a blood thirsty defense attorney that wants nothing more than to embarrass her and paint her a joke. On second thought, I bet the defense wants everyone to take her very seriously.
Dr. White closes out her opening by portraying to us, her powers of mind reading. She does this little literary dance called “I can’t imagine what you are going through but I know exactly what you are going through” The doc then goes on to predict Ms. Jeantel’s sleeping habits, insinuating that she has not slept in 1 year, 4 months, 7 days because she sounds tired. (That’s 42,595,200 seconds for all you nerds out there) So tired.
Start the apology.
I want to write you an apology for this whole world, even if it’s not my place to apologize. I’m so sorry that you’re sitting on the stand right now, being interrogated like a criminal instead of another victim. I’m so sorry that people are judging you, fixated more on your beautiful brown skin, your carefully applied make-up, your body, your being, than your trauma and your pain. I’m sorry that you were born into a country where a man can pursue and kill a black boy, your friend, and go home the same night with the blessings of law enforcement officers. I’m sorry that you’ve been retraumatized, stigmatized, defamed, and attacked just because you were unlucky enough to love a black boy, to share time with him, to be the last one he ever called.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
Sorry…Because you are on the stand. Because people are judging you. Because of your brown, make-up laced body. Wait a minute, I didn’t even consider her brown make-up laced body until Dr. White just went on about it. Sneaky stuff. More apology… Because you were born in a country where men pursue and kill black boys. (Which makes me feel even happier because somehow I outmaneuvered all those men trying to kill me during my boy years. I’ve made it to black man) Because you were unlucky enough to love a black boy. Dang it. No wonder all of my girlfriends left me, they felt unlucky. “I’m sorry for your loss.” OK, I can’t argue with that.
This letter, I know, doesn’t make up for any of it.
Is where she should have stopped. It would have been a definitive moment. But she goes on.
“This letter, I know, doesn’t make up for any of it.” Not for the unimaginable grief and pain you’ve suffered in the last year. Not for the guilt or shame you’ve probably felt, which no doubt has affected your health and will continue to affect your life, your dreams, your faith.
Doc White points out that this letter doesn’t make up for the unimaginable grief, pain, guilt, and shame that she has imaginably suffered. Rendering it useless and obsolete. Which is why she continues on. She gets dark here so try to remain optimistic.
I can’t even fix the extreme likelihood that you and your children might soon find it impossible to vote in your home state. Or that you were never taught to read cursive, or that the school you grew up attending was probably more like a prison than a place of learning. I can’t promise that you, or another loved one (or mine) won’t, yet again, die too soon, too young, too black.
But I’m writing this all the same.
You and your children won’t be able to vote in Florida and the secondary school you went to doubled as a prison. Which is why you can’t read cursive. Oh and by they way, if you die, you are going to die too black. I never knew such a thing existed. To surmise, all of this stuff Dr. White is writing won’t make up for or fix anything. But she is writing it all the same. Someone is in the business of wasting time. (Myself included)
There are a lot of hateful things being said about you—comparisons to “Precious” (as if Gabourey Sidibe isn’t a real person or, irony of ironies, that Precious wasn’t also a victim of trauma)
people making fun of your frankness, your tenacity, your refusal to codeswitch out of your mother-sister-brother tongue. You exemplify, in your girth, skin tone, language, and manner, a refusal to concede. You are a thousand Nat Turners, a quiet spring of rebellion, and some folks don’t know how to handle that.
Someone please bring up “girth” to Rachel Jeantel and see if you get a rise out of her. She is a thousand Nat Turners. A quick look at history will tell you that the rebellion led by Mr. Turner (no matter how necessary) led to the deaths of about 55 white men, women, and children. If she is a thousand Nat Turners then her existence could lead to the deaths of 55,000 white men, women, and children. And if you double that number to 110,000, you get a lowest case scenario number for how many black folks will die as a result of her existence. Quite the quiet spring of rebellion. Don’t blame me, she picked the reference.
In truth, you’re part of a long legacy of black women so often portrayed as the archetypal Bitch, piles of Sassafrasses, Mammies, and Jezebels easily dismissed, caricatured, and underestimated. For black women, in particular, being the bitch represents our historical exclusion from the cult of true womanhood, a theme traditionally bounded and defined by its contrast to white femininity. For some folks, being black and being a woman makes us less of both.
Let me dumb that down for us: You are a bitch because it is representative of not being accepted into the woman cult because that cult is for whites only.
Allow me to make the last sentence more confusing: Being black and being a woman makes you less of both, but if you are white and a woman you are only less black. If you are black and a man you are less black and less of a man. If you are white and a man, you are more of both. Try to follow along please.
Don’t forget that in just the last few years, Fox News called the First Lady of the United States “Obama’s Baby Mama”
that a popular radio host (Imus confess I have no idea who she is talking about) referred to a group of college athletes as “nappy-headed hoes,” and that even a gold-medal Olympian wasn’t able to escape physical scrutiny and bodily criticism on the world stage. This rhetoric is bigger than you, older than you, deeper than you—it is not you.
I hid that last one so Ms. Jeantel wouldn’t have to be badgered by yet another probing question.
I just want you to know: I am so proud of you. In you I see a fierce resistance that reminds me of ancestors past.
What am I on crazy pills? What is she resisting? Her desire to bitch-slap (poor choice of terminology) the defense attorney?
Each time you open your mouth, look down, clench your cheeks in a fresh wave of pain, I see Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Fannie Lou Hamer joining their spirits and bonding their strength to yours. I see a survivor, a woman who has miraculously kept her mind and nurtured her sanity enough that she can sit, for hours, and recount such horror.
Dr. White clearly got to view the dvd version of Jeantel’s testimony that included hundreds of minutes of never before seen bonus footage.
You have a brilliance that flares out, only to be quickly veiled by a glance down or a quiet stare. Past your soul-wrenching pain and your child-like bravado, I see hope and possibility, a small green tendril creeping out of a concrete playground. I see YOU.
So far, the meanest things I have read about Rachel Jeantel are all in Dr. White’s letter. Any menacing thoughts I’ve had about Jeantel’s “child-like bravado” were brought on by Costley White.
I hold you in me—and there are many, many others, with our arms, minds, and hearts holding you right alongside me. I hope you feel it. I hope you know it.
And I’m so sorry that my apology isn’t enough.
Well at least the letter ended spot on. This look-at-me, completely unnecessary, racial tension tensioning apology on behalf of the planet is definitely not enough. But it was an honest effort. Doc, do yourself a favour and apologise on your own behalf. That way you don’t run into any lunatics such as myself that don’t have any problem with your empathising and sympathising , just a problem with you assuming I want you to cosign my name to it.
Thank you and Good Day.