Director Q & A
Director Joel Gilbert
Joel Gilbert is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles and President of Highway 61 Entertainment. Gilbert is also a political commentator and foreign policy analyst. He has produced documentary feature films on Barack Obama, Dreams from My Real Father (2012), progressive politics, There's No Place Like Utopia (2014) and Donald Trump, Trump The Art of the Insult (2018). He has also produced films on Middle East politics including Farewell Israel (2008) and Atomic Jihad (2010). Other feature films are of music icons, including Bob Dylan, Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus
What effect did the Zimmerman trial have on America?
The Zimmerman trial literally divided America. Prior to the trial in 2012, both blacks and whites rated race relations as positive. This has been negative ever since. It lead directly to the Ferguson Effect, a crime disaster for black neighborhoods with homicides up 33%. Also, the modern era of fake news and race hoaxes started with this case.
What is The Trayvon Hoax?
The Trayvon Hoax is two things. It’s the story of how a real phone witness to the minutes before Trayvon Martin's death was switched for a fake witness. The Trayvon Hoax is also the name I give to the hoax the media plays on black Americans every day: that blacks should vote Democrat to protect themselves from a racist America where whites want to harm them because of their skin color.
Why didn't the media figure out that Rachel Jeantel was a fraudulent witness?
In 2012, the media wanted to turn out black voters for Obama's reelection. Accordingly, they all pushed the race-fueled narrative that a white racist shot a smallish black child who was just trying to get home with candy. The media made no effort to investigate Rachel Jeantel's credibility, even though she admitted lying about her name, her age, a hospitalization, and her stories kept changing.
What's the story of Trayvon's real girlfriend, Diamond Eugene?
Brittany Diamond Eugene was on the phone with Trayvon in his final minutes. She was only 16 at the time and tried very hard to just disappear. However, she faced enormous pressure to come forward from Trayvon's friends, parents, and their family attorney Benjamin Crump. Crump even admitted to Court TV, "We pushed her making a statement." When Diamond finally acquiesced to a recorded phone interview, she mostly replied to Crump in the affirmative and repeated back his "Skittles and Iced Tea" TV narrative. Then Diamond disappeared again and 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel was substituted for Diamond.
What did your investigation consist of?
It took much painstaking research into public documents, as well as visits to Miami high schools, Little Haiti, and Florida State University. I immersed myself into Miami’s urban youth culture, a culture that thrives on some mix of sex, texting, clubbing, shopping, drugs, gangs, and social media. Most importantly, I came to understand Diamond Eugene’s particular Haitian-American milieu. It featured its own unscrupulous subspecialty: identity switching.
What did your research reveal about Trayvon Martin?
I concluded that Trayvon was neither the future rocket scientist the media made him out to be, nor was he a thug. Trayvon was a good kid with many friends and family that loved him. However, he was also a very troubled teenager. I came to see Trayvon’s life as a series of betrayals, one more crushing than the next. His pain played out in reckless behaviors such as fighting, gun dealing, and heavy marijuana use. For the first time, Trayvon's last words are revealed in my film. He requested of Zimmerman "Tell Mama 'Licia I'm sorry," referring to his stepmother Alicia Stanley. This tells Trayvon's story more than anything.
Why didn't Zimmerman's attorneys uncover Rachel Jeantel as a fake witness?
Don West and Mark O'Mara simply didn't have enough time because Florida prosecutors withheld much of the evidence until just before the trial. In fact, Zimmerman's attorneys had to spend two thirds of their time in court fighting to get discovery. Meanwhile, the prosecutors had all the documents I had for over a year, plus subpoena powers! If I could figure it out in a few months, why didn't they? Or maybe they did?
How do you feel about Rachel Jeantel's role in the case?
Pretending to be someone else in a murder trial is extremely serious. Zimmerman could have gone to jail for years. However, early on, Rachel tried to extricate herself from the witness fraud. After lying her way through first interview, she told prosecutors 6 times that she felt "REAL GUILTY" and twice declaring, "I AIN'T KNOW ABOUT IT!" They wouldn't listen. At the time, Rachel was an 18-year-old ninth grader who was reading on a 4th grade level. In my mind, the adults (i.e. lawyers) who knew about the witness fraud and allowed Rachel to testify anyway are just as complicit. In 2018, Rachel was again pretending to be Diamond Eugene in Jay Z’s 6 part TV series, Rest in Power.
With your revelations, what is the real legacy of Trayvon Martin?
Trayvon's legacy was stolen by left wing activists, politicians, and the media for their agendas. Trayvon's father leaving his beloved stepmother "Mama 'Licia" was the tipping point for Trayvon. Trayvon's true legacy is in fact a teachable moment - that the problem for black youth is not armed white men in the streets, rather it’s the absence of strong black men in the home to guide them away from drugs, guns, and gangs.
What should happen now to heal the divisions caused by this hoax?
Diamond Eugene and Rachel Jeantel should come forward and tell the truth. And, all those adults who knew about the witness switch, and that includes Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton, need to come clean too. Black Lives Matter, according to their website, was formed in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting. They might consider calling it quits. Also, Democrat politicians and their media allies should start emphasizing what we as Americans have in common, rather than dividing us by skin tone for their political agendas. Oh yeah, and Colin Kaepernick can rejoin the 49ers now.
What is the main lesson of The Trayvon Hoax that you want people to know?
America got played by an epic race hoax that divided us for no reason. Americans are all brothers. Black and white, we are all brothers. My hope is to show how politicians and the media used Trayvon Martin's tragic death to tear us apart, when our true aspirations have always been to come together as one nation.
"I would have to travel a road of many unexpected turns. At the end of it, I discovered an epic and ultimately