Yesterday I came across a great article by Chrissy Coleman about why Black people understand the most famous (read: controversial) witness in the case... and why white people don't. I really appreciate what Chrissy has to say about Rachel Jeantel and the trial, so I just want to highlight some of her thoughts here.
Note: I make a point not to speak on behalf of people who don't experience the privileges that I do. So I have no commentary, really, aside from my pointed choice of excerpts. But you can read her article in full and draw your own conclusions here. Just remember: when someone checks your privilege, it doesn't mean you should stop talking – it means you should start listening.
But maybe the reason white people don't understand Rachel Jeantel has something more to do with white privilege then, what they would call, Rachel's capricious nature.
The thing is, what white people see in Rachel has little to do about her own issues, and more to say about the America that white people are blind to. Let's take her testimony on not calling the police, for example.
Don West doesn't understand why Rachel didn't call the police when she heard a struggle. Rachel, who is a black woman, doesn't call the police. Why?
Distrust in police stems from decades of being disenfranchised and treated unfairly by those who were supposed to protect us... Government. LAPD. NYPD. Black people can understand Rachel's hesitancy when it came to contacting the police because the fear and doubt that comes with dealing with law enforcement is as entwined into the tapestry of our culture as is our slavery past.
But what's more are the cultural differences between white and black people...
The court might not understand Trayvon and Rachel's casual use of the word ["nigga"] because of how often, no matter how controversial, it is used in our communities... it's used so much that it's become a substitute for identifiers such as "that guy," or "him," etc.
For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation.