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.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.
Jason Johnson, political editor at The Root, is a professor of political science at Morgan State’s School of Global Journalism and Communication and is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera International, Fox Business News and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Follow him on Twitter.