Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: Our lives are worth more than your tears

Kyle Rittenhouse arrives for jury selection at the Kenosha County Courthouse as jury selection in the trial begins on Nov. 1, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Kyle Rittenhouse arrives for jury selection at the Kenosha County Courthouse as jury selection in the trial begins on Nov. 1, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The video of Kyle Rittenhouse crying at the stand of his murder trial has been viewed more than 2 million times.

I can't muster any sympathy for him.

Rittenhouse is on trial for his actions during summer 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This was during the height of the numerous protests across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd and many other instances of police brutality. 

In response to the destruction of property, Rittenhouse said he felt the need to protect storefronts in Kenosha, so he drove from Illinois armed with an assault rifle. By the end of the night, he had fatally shot two people and injured a third.

He's now on trial to determine if his actions were in self-defense or not, which takes us to the viral video of him supposedly crying on the stand.

Before this, Rittenhouse wasn't solemnly awaiting for trial — instead he was seen proudly wearing a shirt that read "Free as F***" and smiling all the while. In addition to his sudden change of demeanor, many people are claiming he's not crying at all, notably LeBron James

"What tears????? I didn’t see one. Man knock it off! That boy ate some lemon heads before walking into court," James said on Twitter in response.  

Of course, this was met with criticism, but James has a point about these theatrics being a common tactic among white people who face punishment.

We see it today often. If you remember the "calling white women Karen" trend of last year, you might have seen this before. Often the story of Karen would start with her harassing a Black person, the Black person calling her out on her behavior and then she would suddenly shift to pleading for forgiveness as she supposedly acted out of ignorance and not malice. 

The reason for this sudden shift is because, in the internet age, a video of her behaving this way has consequences, like getting fired in some cases.

But that's only in recent times. In history, white tears have cost Black lives. One of the most popular examples is that of Emmett Till, often cited as the spark starting the civil rights movement. Till, 14, had allegedly harassed a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. Based on these claims, Bryant's husband and brother-in-law brutally murdered Till, according to PBS. The ensuing trial found the two men not guilty, but they would go on to admit to the murder in Look Magazine.

The worst part is Bryant would go on to admit, decades later, that the claim of Till harassing her was false. The inciting incident was based on a lie. 

Till is just one example of thousands of lynchings of Black people.

Behind all of the emotion of breaking down and crying is an implicit request to give them sympathy, to feel bad about putting them through the grueling experience of reaping what they sowed.

These white tears are always deployed as a defense against criticism, as a way to make the person crying a victim, no matter their actions. Rittenhouse ended the lives of two people, and his tears on the stand won't change that. 

My sympathy for white tears simply does not exist, especially when they've been used as a deadly weapon for centuries.

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