Yvette Carnell: Rachel Jeantel’s Testimony Is Not a Litmus Test on Black Authenticity

I was one of the first writers to come to Charles Ramsey’s defense after he was roundly ridiculed by many in the black community after rachel-jeantel 2 his heroic rescue of three women who were being held captive by a depraved torturer. Much of the discussion surrounding Ramsey—as it related to his Afro, teeth, and exuberant expressions—had more to do with black insecurity than Mr. Ramsey himself. It derived from the desire of many blacks to be held in high esteem by whites, the politics of respectability.

And, certainly as it relates Rachel Jeantel’s testimony, the politics of respectability reared its ugly head once again, with Negro sophisticates calling the teen names and mocking her gesticulations and accent.

I don’t sign on with in any of that. And the nasty Twitter comments, tearing apart the girl’s appearance and speech were vile, even reprehensible, but Twitter has become a haven for cruelty, so I expect it. It comes with anonymity.

However, the raw rage I blindly stumbled across after mildly criticizing Jeantel causes me to question whether some African-Americans have swung too far to the other side of the pendulum, entering a space where all things black are insulated from criticism just for being black.

On Wednesday, I criticized Jeantel for her combative interaction with the defense attorney. Of course it’s the job of the defense team to get under the skin of prosecution witnesses, and in my estimation, they were successful at raising Jeantel’s rancor during her first day of testimony.

Jeantel’s a teenager who has been thrust into a stressful circumstance due to no fault of her own. I understand that. I empathize. I also understand that “don’t you watch the First 48?” is probably not the answer that prosecutors were hoping to hear when Jeantel was asked a question by defense attorneys. Didn’t the prosecution advise her to answer only the questions asked of her? The prosecution team seemed to have dropped the ball in prepping Jeantel for trial, leaving the door open for the teen to go off script, so to speak, which also left the teen open to criticism.

But even my mild criticism of Jeantel’s testimony on Wednesday was immediately derided as anti-black by *conscious* black people. For me, that’s problematic. It’s a sort of group censoring that makes me acutely uncomfortable.

Also, the irony here doesn’t escape me. The African-American community flanked Obama and safeguarded him from all criticism, regardless of whether it was valid, just as Jeantel’s protectors are now doing.

I’m almost proud that the Black community has gone from protecting the wealthiest among us to the weakest among us. It’s a step forward. But doesn’t there have to be a middleground? A safe space for intelligent conversation and criticism?

Charles Ramsey didn’t have a responsibility to help the women he rescued, but he showed up when it mattered. But like it or not, Jeantel has an immense responsibility in weighing in on what happened the night George Zimmeran fired the bullet that tore through Trayvon Martin’s chest. And wherever there is great responsibility, there will be great expectations.

I tweeted Jeantel to congratulate her on what I thought was a masterful second day of testimony, a stark contrast from day one. Jeantel was focused and unyielding. But I’m not going to lie just to get into the good graces of some who believe Jeantel is beyond criticism just because she is a black teen.

If you disagree with me about day one of Jeantel’s testimony, I’m fine with having that conversation. What I’m not OK with is being shouted down. Responding forcefully to disgusting comments about Jeantel is one thing. Shouting down any and all criticism of her testimony is another thing altogether. One is virtuous and admirable, while the other is weak and feeble minded.

Every unfavorable assessment is not tear down, and every criticism is not an act of cruelty. No one should be demeaning Jeantel, but voicing 100 percent support for day one of her testimony should never have become a litmus test for authentic blackness.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Your Black World and Founder of BreakingBrown. You can reach Yvette via Twitter @YvetteDC or on Facebook.

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  2. I agree with Yvette (somewhat) but the so-called intelligent ones want all knowledge to begin and end with their thinking—but the Gaps in their thoughts leave room for the independent thinkers to see the real picture—-we need scholars to handle the systemic scheme of things set before us— but this game of “LIFE” has no Winners (some would have us believe it do) we are all dummies trying to outsmart.outwit, outlast, and out everything under the sun while we search for meaning@ pretend we know —-but ALL things PASS and so will THIS—then and only then will we realize that we were not so SMART after all —–“WE THINK WE KNOW BUT WE HAVE NO IDEA!!!”…Jeantel your knowledge fits correctly where it fits –Right wrong or indifferent—-The scales will balance themselves somewhere on this planet, when we take our own personal stuff out of the equation….PEACE!!!!

  3. @Julie Angelena: “I am a democrat, and I believe in equal rights for everyone, that is what our country IS. Even I can see that our so called “Xtian” Republicans (who are actually a minority, are passing away from old age daily, & only retain power through manipulation of the government) have no interest in changing the status quo.”

    I’m not a demonRAT or a rePOOPlikkklaner, like Brother Malcolm X said, I’m a VICTIM of
    amerikkka’s hypocracy! Just because you are a demonRAT doesn’t mean a thang because BOTH OF THESE PARTIES ARE FULL OF RATS!!!

    The existing state of affairs conserning these social, economical, and political problems we are facing in racist amerikkka today, WILL NEVER CHANGE! It is getting worse for Black people, but some of them are too blind to see what is happening RIGHT BEFORE THEM!

    They have been MANIPULATED with xtianity, and this voting system, and religion. Negroids have been CONned to RELY on a ‘spook up in space’ TO SAVE THEM, but we MUST SAVE OURSELVES!!!

    Malcolm X, also said we are HATED because we are BLACK!

    Both of these parties are one-in-the-same; racist toward Black people…plain & simple! You know it, and I know it, regardless if you’re a caucasoid or not!

    ALL caucasid males want POWER over ALL Black non-caucasoid people on this planet! This is why, he is trying to escape to outer space; because he knows his time is up! Do you think those azz-or-nots (astronauts) are flying around in space just for pleasure? They are trying to find a planet, so these caucasoids can escape to because they are DESTROYING planet Mother Earth!

    NONE of these caucasoids are gonna change; these government officials (negroids and caucasoids) are not gonna change, and the people, who CONTROL the media, our schools, the banks, and the world will also remain the same! THIS IS ALL A PLAN!

    Caucasoids are 50-100 years ahead of their programming and power manipulation of Black and poor people! Everythang, that is happening today was planned YEARS ago!

    The Trayvon trial is a joke! They know zimmerboy is gonna walk, and they are ‘on stage’ playing a part, and brainwashing Black people; TO THINK, that zimmerboy may go to the clink!


    Just because ONE BLACK is involved in the case (the Black lawyer); that still doesn’t make it a fair playing field. Trayvon’s parents should’ve had some type of Black represenation in the jury process!!!

    Five caucasoid femalies, and one latino (who think she’s a caucasoid) will not come back with a fair verdict! This is why no caucasoid males are not on the jury because they already have in their minds; not to send this murderer to jail for killing a Black young man. THE SYSTEM IS USING THESE FEMALES!

    How about a Black judge? How about a Black prosecutor, and MORE Blacks, should be in the courtroom! This trial is a joke, and Black people need to stop Trusting in this illegal, unjustice, racist court system because caucasoid’s laws were only written for you caucasoids!

    How is this racist country fair when it comes to our rights, like you stated in your opening sentence? Why do we have to BEG for our rights? Why did you caucasoids have to GIVE US our rights? If we are citizens of this racist country, why are our voting rights being taken away in 2013?

    We are still fighting for EQUALITY, FREEDOM, LIBERTY, JUSTICE and RESPECT like we did 500 da.mn years ago! And you claim, that amerikkka is for EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE?


    You caucasoids live in a fantasy world, which you are priviledged because you are pale!

    caucasoid =

    a. In Anthropology: Of or being a human racial classification distinguished, especially by very light to brown skin pigmentation, and straight to wavy or curly hair, and including peoples indigenous to Europe, northern Africa, western Asia, and India.

    b. Of or relating to a racial group having white skin, especially one of european origin; white.

    2. Of or relating to the caucasus region or its peoples, languages, or cultures.

    3. Of or relating to a group of three language families spoken in the region of the caucasus mountains…

    • correction: femalies s/b [females]

      Let me add this; as you can see the word ‘caucasoid’ IS NOT a derogatory word. It’s just another word for ‘caucasian’.

      You also must OVERstand when I say; that you caucasoids were living in caves in the caucasus mountains; this name (caucasoid) proves that my comments are True!

      I teach Real OURstory, and I do not sugar coat the Truth! Some people are afraid of the Truth, but negroid xtians are too scared to BE FREE! Doesn’t your bible say; THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE? Aren’t you negroids tired of suffering from MENTACIDE, which is MENTAL SUICIDE? It’s time to FREE YOUR MINDS!!!

      negroid = a chocolate covered caucasoid (slang)

      John 8:32 reads: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”


      The Black Messiah Lives!

  4. Derrick,

    I think you are very well spoken, but I would like you to know that I personally as a white woman of a certain age, would refer to ANY female under 25 as a girl, so I would encourage you not to overgeneralize as to who may be against you. I am a democrat, and I believe in equal rights for everyone, that is what our country IS. Even I can see that our so called “Xtian” Republicans (who are actually a minority, are passing away from old age daily, & only retain power through manipulation of the government) have no interest in changing the status quo, which means most of the money to a few people who are “approved” as the right kind, and FORGET everyone else, until they want to tell you how you have to have a baby that they don’t want to pay the bills for…so I understand your PASSION, and I hope everyone reading this blog gets out and votes FOR EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN ~ And KNOW WHAT YOU’RE VOTING FOR! And now you should understand some of MY passion.

    Regarding the trial, I would like to give an idea, which I don’t think was given ANY COVERAGE BY THE PROSECUTION, but I think is important for the jury to think about. I made this facebook comment earlier this week:

    Rachel, be proud of how you defended your honor in court, if I was a juror, I would understand what you were trying to say, and that you were attempting to recall as best you could, and the exact words don’t matter, what happened does. And her friend was SHOT and KILLED.

    One more thought: I would bet Trayvon was so scared, it was getting dark, this “creepy” looking dude is following him….Was he thinking: what if the guy wanted to RAPE him?!? What if he had chloroform or something, some way to overpower him?!?! (Oh wait, the guy actually DID have a gun!!! And the attorney thinks it would have been wrong for Treyvon to confront the man who is following him with a gun? Are you kidding me??) It seems sexual predators are everywhere nowadays. I DO NOT BLAME HIM for confronting the guy who’s chasing him through his neighbor’s backyards AT ALL!! I don’t even blame him if he hit Zimmerman first – HE WAS SCARED!!!!

    Didn’t Rachel say she first JOKED with him that “maybe the guy’s following you ’cause he wants to RAPE YOU?” & Trayvon responded “cut it out!” NO WONDER Trayvon didn’t back down when the guy chased him into a quiet area……does anyone else think this might be important, or am I nuts?

  5. I think the girl made things worse… She was “keepin’ it real yo” and all the while a murder trial is going on that she could either help or hurt the situation… All that nonsense that came from her mouth hurt Trayvon more than anything. No way anyone should be making excuses for this ignorance. It is an abomination.

  6. I pray that there are no “fat, black children” at Lydia Breslin place of work. According to Ms Breslin she work at a Children Medical Center. I will be contacting that Center and voicing my concerns about the saftey of any kids that she may come into contact.

  7. English is not Rachel’s first language. Her statements will be backed up with Trayvon’s phone records. Trayvon was talking to her minding his own business, not playing cops & robbers with Zimmerman. That’s why she lied, to avoid being ridiculed & demonized from the public. I salute her giving her statement. The video of Zimmerman giving his statement to police, the video of him re-enacting the killing and the interview on either channel 2,4 or 7 shows that Zimmerman is 100% lying about what happened the night that Trayvon was killed. In those videos there are a lot of contradictions and inconsistencies. Trayvon was in a fight for his life I’m sure they switched positions from top to bottom several times. The person who was screaming for help was silenced by the bullet. In the video statement that Zimmerman gave to police, he stated that the screaming for help did not sound like him. REST IN PEACE TRAYVON.

    • @Bella: “That’s why she lied, to avoid being ridiculed & demonized from the public.”


      She did not want to be embarrassed by this racist media! She did not want to be in the ‘limelight’ like a lot of negroids, who would’ve jumped just to be seen!

      She is a BEAUTIFUL sister, and is NOT UGLY and FAT, she’s just big boned, and BLACK & BEAUTIFUL!
      There is no color in FRIENDSHIP, and by her being an Aquarius, she was Trayvon’s mentor! Aquarians are 50 years AHEAD of others in the THINKING department.

      She told Trayvon to run, and he did it, but he was murdered by this chili choker terrorist!!!

      By the way…the FIRST astrologers, and astronomers were Black Afrikan women! They studied the Sun, Moon and stars on top the Ancient Pyramids. They had OBSERVATORY DECKS on top these structures where they studied, and named the movements of the planets and stars.

      These crackers have changed this symbol into the ‘all seeing eye’, and have demonized the pyramids to mean evil (just because they were built by Black Kemetians)! Melanin is also the THIRD EYE, which means your 6th sense!

      Remember, these demons demonized Voudon, and changed the name to voodoo, which they changed to mean evil, but xtianity is the real evil, murderous religion. Voudon deals with the Soul and Spirit of a person; it WAS NOT a religion!

      The Sirius constellation was founded by Isis, who was really Auset, that is her real Kemetian name. She was a Black Kemetian (Egyptian) Goddess. Isis was a fake Greek name given to this Black Goddess to BRAINWASH people to THINK that Isis was a caucasoid! THESE DEMONS STOLE OURstory!!!

      This sister (Rachel) played ‘dumb’ on some questions, but she was HONEST with her account of the murder of Trayvon! These demons knew that she was telling the Truth! And, dumb azz negroids, who are against this Sister need to burn by the woodpile with their cracker counterparts!

      I’M OUTTA HERE!!

  8. sean from brooklyn

    wake up,please!
    poor and working blacks need to care about each other,because no one else gives a shlt.
    real talk.
    look at all your so called black sites including this one,it is for the elite ran by the elite and the elite gives these sites their support to maintain.
    the grio………………..aka the gringo(i coined that)useless site, when have you gone on there and those mutts had a article that helped you and your family advance in this wicked country.
    how about newsone…………aka snooze one(coined this too)useless, just more negative black so called news.
    loop 21…………..aka snoop 21 gossip and garbage 1st article today is on trey songz.
    these elites have sold out for crumbs, for them to attack that haitian sister like that (including this site) for the way she talked was a disgrace.

  9. Yvette, I agree with you 100% about her combative, nasty attitude on day one her testimony. I made a similar comment about this on a blog and people where coming for my head. Her attitude was terrible and it did nothing to help Trayvon and the prosecution. In fact, it was a distraction and played into the “angry, hostile, black woman” stereotype. This trial is serious, so all of that sista-girl attitude should have been left at the courtroom door.

    I believe that she was prepped for the trial, but decided to go off script. Even the Martin’s were looking distressed while she was on the stand.

  10. There is no excuse for ignorance. Yes she is 19, however, I know 10 years olds who can put better sentences together. This young lady is ignorant, disrespectful, and needs to pick up a book. Thats just that.

  11. “‘I’m almost proud that the Black community has gone from protecting the wealthiest among us to the weakest among us”

    long before we common black folks heard of a Barrack Obama, the black community protected a young black poor girl name Tawanda Brawley. It is comments like I quoted above that make black folks angry at uppity folks that think it is their duty to preach to ‘common folks’

  12. “I don’t sign on with in any of that. And the nasty Twitter comments, tearing apart the girl’s appearance and speech were vile, even reprehensible, but Twitter has become a haven for cruelty, so I expect it.”

    First and foremost, Rachel IS NOT A ‘GIRL’, shes a young lady. I’m save to say, if she would’ve been a caucasoid, you would’ve called her a young ‘lady’! I get tired of hearing y’all calling caucasoid males…men; they ARE NOT MEN, they act like boys when it comes to our RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES, and EQUALITY! THEY GO IN TANTRUM MODE ALL THE TIME!

    Personally, the sister ‘STOOD HER GROUND’, which I found very entertaining! She handled that cracker like a real woman! SHE WAS NOT SCARED like a lot of negroids would have been to SPEAK UP to that racist yankee.

    Could she have been a little more polished…of course, BUT you have negroids on this site, who need to be POLISHED up also! She came back strong the following day, and her accounts of the crime are on que! SHE’S NOT A DUMMY!

    These negroids, who feel she is a ‘hoodrat’ need to go look in the mirror and see, who the REAL HOODRATS are…THEMSELVES! I get tired of these fake azz, chicken-hearted negorids trying to prove to crackers, that they are so godda.mn intelligent.

    Crackers are the dumbest group of animals on the planet, and I DON’T HAVE TO PROVE SHYT TO THOSE IGORANT BAST.URDS!

    If crackers are supposed to be so da.mn smart, why are they so godda.mn dumb when it comes to our BLACK RIGHTS, LIBERTY, FREEDOM, JUSTICE AND EQUALITY? Why are they so da.mn RACIST and STUPID toward us just because THEY ARE NOT BLACK? That’s a REAL DUMB AZZ INDIVIDUAL!!!

    Instead of worrying about Sister Rachel, why don’t you negroids start worrying about, how our RIGHTS ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM US BY THESE DUMB AZZ crackers? Why are you DUMB AZZ negroids turning your guns in for $100, while crackers are buying up the gun stores? What are you DUMB AZZ negroids gonna do when these demonic devils come at your door with a gun in their hands; while you have THEIR bible in your hands…pray to THEIR god?

    THESE DEMONIC devils are the REAL DUMMIES, and they prove it to me every m/f day!!!

    If these crackers call O’Drama illiterate, liars, and monkeys; do y’all think their gonna give Rachel or us some play? HE.LL NAW!

    She speaks THREE LANGUAGES, how many languages do you DUMB AZZ negroids speak? You weak negroids will down your own people before dissing these crackers!


    • correction: safe s/b [save]^
      correction: IGORANT s/b [IGNORANT]^
      correction: their s/b [there]^

    • Your an Idiot. Nuff said!

    • Brotha I coudnt agreez wit u mor
      Them dum azz crackas r ignorant and racst motha fuckas
      Dey treaten us like shit and dey takin all our rites away
      We gotz to stand up to dem crackas in da streets and do watz we gotta do to stop dem

  13. Well done Doc