Point of View Columns

Justice is For Just Us

The Not Guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is simply a reiteration of what White Privilege in America is all about. We can begin with the acceptance of the reality that if Mr. Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old Black man, armed with an automatic rifle, shooting and killing people during the melee in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the police would have shot and killed him instead of offering him a water bottle.

If the Black Rittenhouse somehow made it to trial his tearful pleas of self-defense, enhanced by his weeping mother (who continued to peek to make sure that cameras were capturing her tears), they would have fallen on deaf ears and he would be carted off to prison for the rest of his life as you are reading this column.

Yet, the White Rittenhouse is home, safe and sound. The White Rittenhouse is a celebrity in the right wing of the right wing. Indeed, Matt Gaetz, that noted Congressman About Town and Friend of Teenage Girls, has already offered him a job as an intern.  (How apropos)

It is one of those concatenation trick of time and circumstance that the Rittenhouse verdict occurs during the same week that we discover, not to our surprise, that the convicted murderers of Malcolm X didn’t do it. Further, the wrongful convictions were the result of intentional efforts by federal and New York City law enforcement to obscure the identity of the real killers. And now, over a half a century later, we will never know.

Which leads us to question the multiple occurrences of injustice and prestidigitation that have been a hallmark of the Black Experience with American Justice. For example, the murderers of Emmitt Till were never convicted and the white woman who lied in claiming that your Mr. Till had insulted her waited on her deathbed to tell the truth – the young man was innocent.

Or – consider, are we to really believe that James Earl Ray, a two-bit criminal if there was ever was one, shot and killed Martin Luther King and was able to escape and flee to London and then Lisbon with fake passports that would require a level of experience and knowledge that was far beyond the ken of Ray. But, of course, James Earl Ray is dead and the fake story is now the real story.

The point, of course, is that the criminal justice system in America is a stacked deck when it comes to Black Americans. We know that, not only would the hypothetical Black Kyle Rittenhouse have been shot dead in the street, as would have been the hypothetical Black insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

It is true that the killer of George Floyd has been convicted. But the killers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice walk blithely walk the streets and will never spend a nanosecond in prison. And this, of course, is a very incomplete listing of injustices.

All of which is to say that, when it comes to the United States of America, White America is saying that in the United States justice is Just for Us.