A Sunday Evening: A Continuation of ReadsPosted: June 30, 2013
Alright, I’ll just dive in, since this thread is getting posted a lot later than I had hoped. The links will touch on the testimony of Rachel Jeantel…particularly her use of the English language, the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and culture Geechee-Gullah people, the descendants of West African slaves on Georgia’s Sapelo Island.
This first article is very good, it is written by Christina Coleman from Global Grind. I want you to read the entire thing…but the one sentence that I think makes the point is this: “For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation.”
So let’s cut to the chase. Any attorney, jury member, judge or white person in that courtroom is not going to understand Rachel Jeantel. And I don’t expect them to.
In fact, I certainly, like my fellow writer Rachel Samara, understand why white people wouldn’t like Rachel.
She’s hard. She’s black. And your assumptions about her background and lack of education make you feel like you are better, somehow. That her testimony, no matter how powerful and impactful it may be to this trial, is implausible. Weak, maybe? Let’s impeach her.
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.
Let’s for one second try to understand why Rachel is “angry” (read emotional), “hood” (read blunt), and “unintelligent” (read multilingual).
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.
I won’t quote the entire piece, like I said you need to read it…
It’s not that Rachel can’t be trusted. In fact, her testimony has remained solid and consistent throughout her nearly seven hours of questioning.
But, the initial fear of not knowing what would happen is something that black people can understand. And overlook. Which is something that someone with white privilege wouldn’t exactly grasp.
But what’s more are the cultural differences between white and black people.
When asked why she omitted the words “creepy ass cracker” and “nigga” when speaking in front of Sybrina Fulton about her son’s last moments, she simply told the court that she didn’t want to disrespect her.
As West looked at her in utter disbelief, Rachel looked back, unwavering. How could he not understand that she couldn’t bring herself to upset someone who had just lost a child? Better yet, curse in front of adults.
Note: Disrespect to elders in the black and especially Caribbean communities is almost as bad as cursing the Lord.
And speaking of that word “nigga,” the court might not understand Trayvon and Rachel’s casual use of the word because of how often, no matter how controversial, it is used in our communities.
So aside from the argument that we took the power out of a degrading word and made it into a term of endearment, it’s used so much that it’s become a substitute for identifiers such as “that guy,” or “him,” etc.
And for Don West to argue that the use of the word “nigga” was racial for Trayvon is incomprehensible, especially because he used it on a person who was not of African descent.
For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation. And instead of trying to understand her, people are reducing the miscommunication to semantics, what they call her broken “Kings English,” and her anger. Without even realizing that she comes from a home where Creole is her first language, or that her friend was killed just seconds after he last spoke to her. Wouldn’t you be frustrated in front of a court that refuses to understand you?
But most importantly, if there is anything that black people can understand that those judging her are not, it’s the loss of life without justice.
And as Rachel Jeantel sits on the stand, nervous, mumbling and annoyed, it’s not that she’s just a “hoodrat with no media training from a hostile environment.”
It’s just that your world and our world are…excuse the cliche…worlds apart.
And that, my friends, was never Rachel Jeantel’s fault.
The 19-year-old Miami native is an easy target for obvious, yet shallow reasons. But let’s not forget why she’s actually on the stand in George Zimmerman’s second degree murder trial. Rachel was the last person to speak to a living, breathing Trayvon Martin. The guilt, shame and sorrow she must feel is something most of us will never be able to comprehend. You could hear it in her voice, see it in her jittery body language. She is feeling the wrath of this highly publicized case.
Rachel was thrown head first into this murder story, unwillingly. And although she had repeatedly said she did not want to be a witness, did not even want to believe she was the last person Trayvon spoke to, Rachel took the stand for all the right reasons. She was asked to by the family of her deceased friend and feeling part of the burden for his death, she wanted to help.
Rachel was raw, emotional, aggressive and hostile, and she was unapologetically herself.
I can imagine George Zimmerman’s defense is just hoping some of those 5 white jurors have some prejudices (as most people do), or hell, are even racist, because if they are, their tactic to make Rachel out to be less intelligent, rather than less credible than she actually is, might actually work.
Less intelligent and more confused.
Less intelligent because of the “language barrier” and more confused because of the lawyers’ failure to understand who Rachel is, where she comes from, what kind of life she lives.
It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like – a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.
But if the lawyers, and especially the jurors, were really listening, they would see that although she comes off aggressive, Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it – she did not want to see Trayvon’s body, she did not want to face Trayvon’s mother and she wanted to wipe her hands of the situation because of the emotion and trauma. She was the last person Trayvon spoke to and she wanted everyone to understand what that means. This is in no way easy for her.
Rachel is the prosecution’s key witness, but I am going to call her the misunderstood witness. She holds vital information that both the defense and prosecution need, but these middle-aged white men questioning her do not get it. Sadly both the prosecution and the defense [but more so the defense] have an extreme disconnect from her reality, like I said. The constant text messaging between her and Trayvon is normal for two high school kids who may like each other, the nonchalant use of racial slurs like “cracka” and “n*gga” are slang (as Rachel put it) and that doesn’t mean it comes from a racist place.
Trayvon was just 17, his life consisted of text messaging, high school, PS3, girls and not much else. He had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of experiences to take in, so much more to learn, but sadly, he will never get a chance to do any of those things.
Okay, and after you read that article…here is another Will You White Crackers Please Stop Whining for the Love of God
The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin continues to be one of America’s richest sources of tangentially-related arguments. The latest: Is “cracker” a “racial” term? The correct answer: Shut up, cracker.
In the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, witness Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her that a “creepy-ass cracker” (Zimmerman) was following him shortly before he was killed. Under grilling from Zimmerman’s attorney, Jeantel said that she did not think that “cracker” was a “racial” remark, or an offensive one, or, really, a big deal. Now, the question of whether or not “cracker” is “racial” is being reported on as an issue of great importance. As a born-and-raised Southerner— and a cracker— I feel qualified to offer some insight to those who may be confused by this thorny sociological quandary.
Is “cracker” a “racial” term? Yes, it means “white person.” Therefore it is “racial.”
Is “cracker” an offensive term? Well, let’s put it this way: if you are the type of white person who is greatly offended by being called a “cracker,” you can always take heart in the knowledge that the Confederacy went down fighting bravely. They’ll never take that away from you, by god.
Is “cracker” a real live racial slur, just as despicable as all the other racial slurs? A racial slur? Sure, technically speaking. A real racial slur? Sadly, no. There are no good racial slurs for white people. Despite the fact that white Americans have committed far more atrocities against the other races of the world than all of those races combined have committed against white people, there is no one single slur in popular usage that can really cut a white person to their soft, marshmallowy core. It’s tragic, really. A corollary of this fact is the fact that white people who complain loudly about “racial slurs” like “cracker” are “pussies.”
Does the philosophical question of whether or not “cracker” is a “racial” term have any real bearing whatsoever on whether or not Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and killed? No.
Hey, how come nobody makes a big deal when a black person says “cracker,” but I lose all my endorsement deals just for calling black people…. Hold it right there, whitey. It boggles the mind to know that this question is still so fervently discussed in internet comment sections and in the stands of Ole Miss football games, and yet is one of the single most god damn ignorant questions that could ever be formulated by a white resident of the United States of America. The reason you’re looking for, cracker, is “the history of the United States of America.” Look it up. You can figure it out if you really, really try. I mean, lord almighty, you’d think that this whole discussion would have been laid to rest years ago just by Chris Rock routines alone, but no. Fucking whiny crackers will not stop whining like little babies no matter how fucking good they have it.
Once back in Orlando, when we were moving into our new condo and the place was still not yet completed…I was there with my newborn son unpacking the little things and taking care of him while the rest of the big stuff was being loaded up at the apartment. The condo did not have cable, just a TV and a VCR. The only tapes I had at the time was Blazing Saddles and Silence of the Lambs. Well…Jake was awake and I had just putting on Blazing Saddles in the VCR, the tile guy came to do the back splash in the kitchen. He was a black man.
Part of me wanted to shut the movie off, but part of me was curious too. He had come in after the beginning credits but before the “I get a kick out of you” scene .
The first n-word got the response I expected…he quickly said, “Hey now, that ain’t cool…you gotta turn that off.” But…when he came around the corner and saw what was on he immediately said, “Na, is that Blazing Saddles? Na, that’s okay, Mel Brooks is the only white man who ‘s allowed say n-word…” (Ugh…he said the full word by the way.)
So…after that I talked to him about that, I asked him if this was because Richard Pryor co-wrote the script…nope, it wasn’t because of that.
Well, why then? Why could Mel Brooks, a white man, get away with it? His reply was simple…”I don’t know, he just can.”
Think about his answer.
I have to say there was some moments when we both shared some laughs during that movie, and it was probably with different cultural understandings, but we laughed together.
On to the big anniversary in Gettysburg this week…in link dump fashion.
Reenactors demonstrate a battle during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on Friday at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
The town of Gettysburg is in high gear after years of preparation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic Civil War battle–events expected to generate about $100 million for a local economy wrapped tightly around historic tourism.
The battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Plans to commemorate the pivotal clash between Union and Confederate forces have been years in the making.
Organizers have taken to calling it Gettysburg’s “Olympic moment” for scale and grandeur.
“We’ve never done anything like this, at least our generation hasn’t,” said Carl Whitehall, spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. His group estimated $100 million in tourism revenue.
Park employees already refer to this time of year as the “high holy days.” The 150th anniversary has injected just a bit more pomp into the circumstances.
“This is just the ‘high holy days’ on steroids,” said parks spokeswoman Katie Lawhon, who has worked at Gettysburg for more than 20 years.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee listened to scouting reports, scanned the battlefield and ordered his second-in-command, James Longstreet, to attack the Union Army’s left flank.
It was a fateful decision, one that led to one of the most desperate clashes of the entire Civil War – the fight for a piece of ground called Little Round Top. The Union’s defense of the boulder-strewn promontory helped send Lee to defeat at Gettysburg, and he never again ventured into Northern territory.
Why did the shrewd and canny Lee choose to attack, especially in the face of the Union’s superior numbers?
While historians have long wrestled with that question, geographers and cartographers have come up with an explanation, by way of sophisticated mapping software that shows the rolling terrain exactly as it would have appeared to Lee: From his vantage point, he simply couldn’t see throngs of Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys.
“Our analysis shows that he had a very poor understanding of how many forces he was up against, which made him bolder,” said Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, whose team produced the most faithful re-creation of the Gettysburg battlefield to date, using software called GIS, or geographic information systems.
Being the America’s oldest magazine still in publication, The Saturday Evening Post has for almost 300 years covered just about every topic, including the Battle of Gettysburg. The magazine has been around since the days of the original 13 colonies.
Confederate prisoners of war confined at Fort Delaware produced this newspaper by hand in 1865. The New-York Historical Society holds one of four surviving copies, each of which was likely passed around and read by multiple prisoners. The paper numbers four pages in total.
Like camps holding Union prisoners in the South, Fort Delaware, located on the Delaware River, was not a pleasant place. More than 40,000 Confederate POWs cycled through the brick-walled prison between 1862 and 1865. Overcrowding, poor handling of sanitation, and short rations resulted in the deaths of many prisoners. (Astonishingly, 56,000 men fighting on both sides died while imprisoned during the conflict.)
Despite these conditions, the men at Fort Delaware evolved an informal economy, staged entertainments, and formed clubs. This newspaper was mostly concerned with covering these aspects of the prison experience. In their introductory column, the editors of the paper warn the reader that “nothing political will be indulged in” and promise instead to promote “public improvements, the Fine Arts, and Advancement of Literature.”
Photographer Alexander Gardner and his two colleagues, Timothy O’Sullivan and James Gibson, came upon a frightful landscape late on July 5, 1863.
Soldiers of the Blue and Gray lay dead virtually everywhere, still littering a battlefield nearly two days after the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg.
The trio set about recording the aftermath of the battle, photographing the dead at locations that have long since become synonymous with the Gettysburg lore – the Slaughter Pen, the Wheatfield, the Valley of Death and Little Round Top.
One picture they captured, of a lone Confederate soldier lying dead in Devil’s Den within the Slaughter Pen area, has become an indelible symbol of intimate combat and death – and possibly even the war itself.
The dead Confederate in the photograph, “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg,” shows a young soldier lying face-up behind a stone wall, situated at the confluence of two large stone outcroppings in Devil’s Den.
The scene has a compelling quality, almost as if the viewer has happened upon a sacred roofless tomb.
But despite the sense of deadly immediacy the image possesses, all is not as it seems in the photograph.
Now for some articles and photo galleries on the Georgia Sapelo Island, Ga.
Recently there was some news about a small area along the coast of Georgia: Feds Approve Gullah-Geechee Plan
A plan to preserve the culture of slave descendants of the sea islands on the Southeast coast has been approved by the Department of the Interior.
The 272-page management plan for the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor has been more than a dozen years in the making.
Last week’s approval means the corridor commission can move ahead with the plan that envisions preserving significant sites and putting up signs to direct visitors.
For more on the Gullah Geechee Corridor Commission:
The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (the Corridor or Corridor) was designated by an act of Congress on October 12, 2006 (Public Law 109-338).It was authorized as part of the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006. As a national heritage area, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is not part of the national park system; however, the act authorizes the secretary of the interior to provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of the management plan.
The Corridor was created to:
- Recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history African Americans known as Gullah Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida;
- Assist state and local governments and public and private entities in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida in interpreting the story of the Gullah Geechee and preserving Gullah Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music.
- Assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with GullahGeechee for the benefit and education of the public.
The passing of this act hopefully will be beneficial to the people of the islands…as you can see in the next couple of links, the community in Georgia is “dwindling.”
Roughly 47 residents, most of them descendants of West African slaves known as Geechee, remain on Sapelo Island, the coastal Georgia island where their ancestors were brought to work a plantation in the early 1800s.
Isolated over time to the Southeast’s barrier islands, the Geechee of Georgia and Florida, otherwise known as Gullah in the Carolinas, have retained their African traditions more than other African-American communities in the U.S. Once freed, the slaves were able to acquire land and created settlements on the island, of which only the tiny 464-acre Hog Hammock community still exists.
Residents say a sudden tax hike, lack of jobs, and development is endangering one of the last remaining Geechee communities from Florida to North Carolina.
There are some real interesting pictures at that link. I really like some of the portraits of the old people…especially this one:
There is another article here, with some of the same images, only the captions are a bit different. They give a bit more info… Descendants of West African slaves work to keep island community
“The Old Plantation” was painted c. 1790 by slave-holder, John Rose. It depicts South Carolina slaves dancing near their quarters with traditional West African headwear and instruments
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south. The National Heritage Area includes roughly 80 barrier islands and continues inland to adjacent coastal counties, defining a region 30 miles inland throughout the United States Low Country. The Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor is home to the Gullah people in the Carolinas, and the Geechee in Georgia and Florida – cultural groups descended from enslaved peoples from West and Central Africa. The Gullah and Geechee share similar linguistic, artistic and societal traits that have remained relatively intact for several centuries due to the geographic isolation of the region. The cultures represent the many ways that Africans in the Americas maintained their homeland roots while simultaneously assimilating aspects of new cultures they encountered during and after enslavement.
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is managed by a federal commission made up of local representatives who collaborate with the National Park Service, Community Partners, grass root organizations and the State historic preservation offices of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Through research, education and interpretation, the corridor aims to preserve and raise awareness regarding the Gullah/Geechee, among America’s least-known and most unique cultures. Visitors to the southeastern coast of the country have the chance to experience Gullah/Geechee heritage through historic sites, local tours, traditional foods, cultural events, and art galleries.
More information at that site too.
That is what I would have put in the post this morning, yeah…this is an open thread.