Christina Coleman at the Global Grind has written an excellent article on the racism/classism that is skewing the portrayal of Rachel Jeantel and her testimony in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Coleman writes:
“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.”
And Khadijah Costley White has written a moving open letter, published at Role / Reboot, that both recognizes and celebrates Rachel’s resistance while linking her treatment by the prosecution and the court to the legacy of intersecting racism and sexism experienced by black women in the US. She writes:
“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.
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.
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 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.
(But you know that, already, don’t you?)”