Watching White Vigilantes on Trial Is Triggering

Court cases for Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery’s killers feel like bad racist theater, where injustice is all but inevitable

Michael Arceneaux
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readNov 19, 2021

--

Photo: Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images

There’s only so much injustice any Black person living in America should be allowed to stomach on a given day. We should have even less tolerance for the apathy so many White people give to our plight. That’s why I never considered watching Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial or the one for the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery.

I didn’t even think to mention either court proceeding to the people in my life. When I finally brought it up in conversation with a friend this week, he quickly put into words the reason why: I can’t get caught up in being that disappointed all over again.

He referenced Trayvon Martin and how heartbreaking that verdict was, and how for many of us, it took too much of an emotional toll. That instantly brought me back to the time when I was in Florida for a conference mere weeks after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering the aforementioned 17-year-old boy. My driver, a White man who spoke far too freely for my liking, passed the city of Sanford and proceeded to make an inappropriate comment about Martin that enraged me to the point where the rest of our ride was dead silent by my design.

Unfortunately, it’s been impossible to completely tune out the trials of Rittenhouse and Arbery’s killers. And I’ve since learned similar levels of racism and stupidity have been on full display in each of the trials.

Yes, I already miss ignorance.

In the case of the latter trial, it’s almost comical that defense attorney Kevin Gough — who is representing Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, the men who killed Arbery in what they described as an attempt to make a “citizen’s arrest” — recently took such great offense to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson making appearances in the courtroom.

Last week, after spotting Sharpton, Gough said out loud: “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here” to sit with Arbery’s family. In Gough’s opinion, this could influence the jury. If that doesn’t sound offensive enough, he added a…

--

--

Michael Arceneaux
LEVEL

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”