Lolo Jones draws heat for tweet about George Zimmerman trial

June 28, 2013

Lolo Jones, transitioning from track to bobsled, ruffled feathers as with a Vine video and comments on the George Zimmerman trial. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters)

Lolo Jones, the sprinter who angered her bobsled teammates with a Vine video earlier this month, was criticized Thursday night for a tweet about a witness in the George Zimmerman trial.

Jones was watching testimony from Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Trayvon Martin, about the last moments of his life when she tweeted with a mention of Tyler Perry’s Madea character:

Jones heard about it on Twitter, but she wasn’t alone in commenting about Jeantel, a star witness in the trial who found herself the center of discussion for several reasons. 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.

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.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | June 28, 2013