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George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin. As the last person to speak with Martin before his death, Rachel Jeantel took the stand this week as a key witness for the prosecution.

After a cross-examination in which the defense attempted to impugn Jeantel’s credibility, much of the court commentary devolved into crass and racialized barbs attacking her intelligence. But as Nation blogger Mychel Denzel Smith wrote yesterday, amid this tactical denigration, “Rachel stood and defended herself and Trayvon (and frankly, many other black youth) against the condescension, against silencing, and against the character attacks.”

Quoting Denzel Smith, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes defends Jeantel and takes her haters to task for their “willful” misunderstanding of a young, black woman’s vernacular.

—Jake Scobey-Thal