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.
5 thoughts on “Justice is For Just Us”
I’m still in shock. From the beginning, I thought that the prosecution was poorly handled, jeopardizing a guilty verdict, on all counts. Still, I had thought that, at least, the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum would lead to a guilty verdict. After all, the man only had a plastic bag in his hand. OTOH, arguably, Huber did use his skateboard as a weapon and Grosskreutz did have a pistol in his hand (while his own testimony did little to diffuse the perception that it could have been used against Rittenhouse).
That said, in the final analysis, I believe that it was the jury’s apparent perception, as it was with many conservatives supporting Rittenhouse, that he was just an immature 17 yo, who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and found himself in a situation that he didn’t know how to handle and he simply reacted poorly…but, hey, we should not ruin his young life because of his well-intentioned efforts to defend himself against three, much older male victims, who were “rioters, arsonists, antifa,” and, generally, were not good people.
Sadly, as you speculated, a black, 17 year old teen, who carried a weapon to protect BLM protestors but got caught up in a confrontation with 3 much older white male counter-protestors, who were “armed” with a plastic bag, a skateboard and a pistol, would have been shot by police, on the spot, despite walking towards them with his hands raised, or, if lucky, would have been subdued and arrested, immediately. A guilty trial verdict would have been “par for the course,” as everyone knows that black men are inherently threatening and prone to violence.
Without question, your hypothetical 17 year old black teen’s future life would have not been a concern of the jury’s and he would have been relegated to spending the rest of his life in prison.
Now, we wait for the ominous “other shoe to drop,” in Brunswick, GA, as three white men (two of them armed) await the outcome of their “self-defense” claims against a single, unarmed young black male, who was jogging in their neighborhood, in broad daylight.
Will “white privilege” prevail, again, to override the law and common sense and allow the meting out of vigilante justice, by armed white men? We shall see.
Under US democracy, Blacks ,in my opinion, have always been viewed as property and not human beings. Thus, as property, we can be sold, stolen and controlled on free movement. Whether it is slave patrol, bounty hunters, KKK, modern day vigilante groups( Proud Boys) or law enforcement, it is their right and destiny to control freedom of movement or right to assemble.
Yes, your analysis is correct if the justice system we have here in America.
But also, the Wisconsin self-defense statute and right to bear arms as an open carry state, certainly helped the defense.
A well-put succinct summary of how deeply the System is stacked against us—and against justice being done whenever race and color are part of the equation. After all, during the Civil Rights Years White activists and allies were murdered with impunity as well. Once again we see that the “law” is just a mechanism to be used for the maintenance of White Privilege—even if all sorts of fictions about the killer(s) and the victim(s), and the conduct of the legal processes have to be created.