*Days after angering her Olympic bobsled teammates with a Vine video mocking their paycheck, sprinter Lolo Jones was criticized Thursday night for a tweet about a key witness in the George Zimmerman trial.
After watching testimony from Trayvon Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel regarding the last moments of his life, Jones suggested in a tweet that the 19-year-old reminded her of Tyler Perry’s Madea character.
The backlash was swift. One Twitter user named Fat Amy wrote: @lolojones good idea, b/c you sure aren’t making any money in sports, you suck.
Veteran music journalist and author Dream Hampton responded: “How classless of you to mock a young girl who’s experienced trauma your privileged ass will never know @lolojones — dream hampton (@dreamhampton) June 27, 2013.
Jeantel’s court demeanor during her two days of testimony has been a topic of discussion and debate in the media.
The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb writes:
As much as anything else in the saga of race, fear, and firearms that is the death of Trayvon Martin and the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, a nineteen-year-old rising high-school senior sometimes described as Martin’s girlfriend, served as a kind of Rorschach test. When you look at the prosecution’s star witness, a young woman, dark-skinned and overweight, her eyes signaling exasperation, what do you see?
Social-media commentary on Jeantel began nearly as soon as she began to testify. Crass assessments of her weight, looks, and intelligence from some white observers competed with a cocktail of vicarious shame, embarrassment, and disdain from some black ones. If the trial has become a referendum on racial attitudes, Jeantel’s testimony served as a reminder that none of us have the moral high ground. Of the abundant ironies that this case has generated, perhaps the most telling are the commonalities that emerged while she was in the courtroom: it brings out the worst in all of us.
Writing for Russell Simmons’ Global Grind, Rachel Samara described Jeantel as “raw, emotional, aggressive and hostile,” and made the assumption that the predominantly white jury would not “understand” the teen’s demeanor:
They won’t understand her, especially not her defensive nature, and this will unfortunately work against her. Even though it shouldn’t.
Jones, an Olympic hurdler who is trying her luck at bobsledding, irritated her U.S. teammates in early June with a video in which she joked about her $741 paycheck.
So far, she has yet to respond to the criticism surrounding her Jeantel tweet.