The Varied Perceptions of Rachel Jeantel

There is no middle-of-the-road opinion about Trayvon Martin's 19-year-old friend Rachel Jeantel, says Jason Johnson in HLN. He explains that demographics play a major role in how critics and supporters have perceived her testimony and courtroom demeanor.

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Rachel Jeantel (pool/Getty Images)

There is no middle-of-the-road opinion about 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, writes Jason Johnson at HLN,
arguing that demographics play a large role in how critics and supporters have perceived her testimony and courtroom demeanor. Jeantel, the last person to speak to Trayvon, testified as a witness for the prosecution in George Zimmerman's second-degree-murder trial.

If you work with teenagers or are raising them, you might have found Jeantel more sympathetic than abrasive. If you don't watch much news, maybe you chuckled and identified with the high school senior when she assumed all criminal investigations looked like "The First 48" on A&E. What some people viewed as sketchy behavior, others saw as authenticity.

Ultimately, after a cross examination that was sometimes tense, sometimes hostile, and definitely riveting, we are left to determine whether or not Jeantel swayed the case for the prosecution or the defense. That depends less on what came out of her mouth than how the jury saw her before she opened it.

If they saw a 19-year-old woman who was hostile, irritable, and a walking-talking racial stereotype, it probably hurt the prosecution and painted a poor picture of Martin. If they saw a senior in high school who was nervous, sincere, and obviously still in mourning, it likely hurt the defense's narrative.

Read Jason Johnson's entire piece at HLN.  

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