Friday was a horrible day for those of us who abhor the worst of this nation’s original values, norms, and laws. You know the ones—the ones that enable white men to rule over women and people of color with an iron fist, the ones that protect the wealth of the few at the expense of the masses, the ones that treat Christianity as the national religion, and the ones that keep members of the LGBTQ+ communities closeted.
Make no mistake: While that Kenosha, Wisconsin jury declared that Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, was not guilty of murdering Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, and other crimes in August 2020, their verdicts do not make that soulless, gun-toting disaster innocent. He’s just the latest killer to walk free, with a lot of help from Judge Bruce Schroeder.
In a nation where horrific violence is increasingly acceptable to one part of the country—most visibly represented by white male Christian supremacists, and the white women who will do anything to remain adjacent to their desperate, angry, and declining power—sometimes we who know the right wing is very, very wrong need something to soothe and encourage us in the face of such hatred and refusal to evolve and embrace their neighbors.
Nearly a decade ago, I got a tiny tattoo on my right wrist. Written in my own handwriting at the shop, and drilled into my skin in ink that only I can see, just two words hover over a hesitation scar I carved into my skin when I was 15: Keep going. I don’t know who needs to read that, but consider the words on my wrist to be yours today.
In one of the most powerful clips to come out of reasonable media in the wake of this absolute failure of our legal system, comedian Amber Ruffin offers, in a brief but must-see monologue, two more important words we all need to hear right now, and perhaps every day.
For those unfamiliar, Ruffin is the brilliant host of The Amber Ruffin Show, available on the NBC streamer Peacock. The Emmy-nominated show tackles the news with a comedic voice we don’t tend to see in the monochromatic world of late night television.
Ruffin makes no secret of the responsibility that comes with such a platform, and works hard to use her reach to make the world a better place. With that in mind, let’s get right to Ruffin’s powerful words—which are clearly so hard for her to say—in the wake of the devastating news that an 18-year-old killer strolled out of that courtroom and into a lifetime as a folk hero for the worst of America.
AMBER RUFFIN: You guys, because I have my own show, I have a responsibility to say things that people need to know, that aren’t being said. It’s a cool opportunity that I don’t take lightly. There are very big, obvious truths that no one wants to say on TV, but I will.
Now, just a few minutes before we started taping this show, Kyle Rittenhouse, the man accused of shooting three people during a Black Lives Matter protest, was declared not guilty on all charges. So, I can’t believe I have to say this, but …
It’s not okay for a man to grab a rifle, travel across state lines, and shoot three people—and then walk free.
It’s not okay for the judicial system to be blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color.
It’s not okay for there to be an entirely different set of rules for white people, but I don’t care about Kyle Rittenhouse. I don’t care about that racist judge. And I don’t care about how fucked up that jury must be.
White people have been getting away with murder since time began. I don’t care about that.
I care about you. And I can’t believe I have to say this, but you matter.
Every time one of these verdicts come out, it’s easy to feel like you don’t, but I’m here to tell you that you do, you matter. You matter so much, that the second you start to get a sense that you do, a man will grab a gun he shouldn’t have in the first place, and travel all the way to another state just to quiet you.
That’s the power you have. So don’t forget it.
You matter. Keep going.
As we sit on the razor’s edge, waiting for verdicts in the Georgia trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery last February, as we wait for consequences for the khaki-clad torchbearers who spewed hatred and cultivated violence at the “Unite the Right” hatefest back in August 2017, we’re gonna need every tool in the box, including JoanMar’s commentary for Black Kos’s Friday edition; it’s a potent conveyance of the rage we all should be feeling.
That’s all I’ve really got, but feel free to share the ways you’re getting through this.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.