Slobe, Tyanna (2016). Creepy-Ass Cracker in post-racial America: Don West’s examination of Rachel Jeantel in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Text & Talk 36(5): 613-635.

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This article examines interactions between defense attorney Don West and witness Rachel Jeantel in the 2013 State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial following the murder of Trayvon Martin. The focus of analysis is how the defense constitutes the term creepy-ass cracker as evidence of violence and aggression on behalf of Trayvon Martin. Their argument is located within an ideological framework of a post-racial American society wherein the defense claims colorblindness (Bonilla-Silva 2014) for their client George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin’s observation of Zimmerman’s whiteness, as indexed by the word cracker, is positioned as evidence of a culture and an individual with inherently violent, racially motivated intentions. The article examines interactional moments during the defense’s questioning of Rachel Jeantel wherein creepy-ass cracker is positioned as immoral within a post-racial ideological framework, and evidence of racism toward white people. Don West’s use of pauses, hyper-articulated Standard American English, and emblematic deictic terms discursively and linguistically segregate Martin’s and Jeantel’s community from the hegemonic white practices of the courtroom. West’s attempts to assert symbolic control over the semantic meaning of creepy-ass cracker reflect the relative unmarkedness of Standard American English and whiteness in contemporary United States judicial systems and society.


Slobe, Tyanna (forthcoming, 2018). Style, Stance, and Social Meaning in Mock White Girl. Language In Society


Mock White Girl (MWG) performances parody a linguistic and embodied style stereotypically associated with contemporary middle class White Girls in the United States. The article identifies bundles of semiotic resources in the stylization of the White girl persona—e.g. creaky voice, uptalk, blondeness, and Starbucks—in three genres of MWG: Savior, Shit White Girls Say, and Teenage Girl Problems. While semiotic variables used to index the stereotype are consistent across performances, there is significant variation in performers’ ideological stances relative to the mocked figures of personhood: White girls in the U.S. are not ‘heard’ in any one way by all social actors. Contextualizing MWG performances through analysis of stance thus reveals critical variation in how the White girl is interpreted, evaluated, and positioned by diverse segments of the population.

Working Papers

Slobe, Tyanna (2016). This American Creak: Metaphors of Virus, Infection, and Contagion in Girls' Social Networks. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Minneapolis, MN. 

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