white innocence: a reflection & offering following the rittenhouse acquittal

Becki Brown
3 min readNov 25, 2021


the myth of white innocence that bred kyle rittenhouse
is the same fallacy that caused me come to his defense
the same pillar of white supremacy that made me say,
“well, but it kind of was self defense.”
all the while missing the point

because the thing about white supremacy is,
it’ll slither into your brain and settle there
soft and familiar, making you an ally to all in service of it
for whom the ultimate benefit of the doubt and unconditional loyalty are granted
and the true victims
those slain at the hands of it
are left to wither in the cold
the harsh winter of injustice

will there ever be accountability?
will us white folks, especially those with class privilege, ever truly take a hammer to the house that keeps us so warm, so comfortable, so strangled under its unbearable pressure?
it is a house on fire slowly suffocating us
a fire fed by dead bodies of Black and brown and poor children
the stench so nauseating, so repulsive, we no longer sense its presence

for it is the air we breathe, the only air we’ve ever known
and in moments when we get a whiff of a fresh breeze, filtering through a crack of these dilapidated walls
it is alluring and yet so off-putting —
a promise that there is a world and infinite possibility beyond this burning foundation
but for most of us, it is too much
this realization that our existence is based on domination, genocide, and the foulest depths of cruelty
and so instead we plug the hole
becoming the arbiters of our own death

for white supremacy is burning,
it is a fire that will not last forever
and when the time comes, what will your children say?
that you suffocated on the fumes of violence and ignorance
or that you took two fingers and plunged through the burning wood, the heat lapping at your face, until finally, you found yourself beyond
in a world of blue and yellow and green
a space in which you would spend your life repenting,
kissing the ground and offering yourself

because the blood on our hands cannot be rinsed off
it is only the earth that can absorb it, recycle it
on a lifelong journey
of tearful joy and dreadful enlightenment
the only true option
because everything else
is death

i wish for kyle rittenhouse that the blood becomes so unbearable, so untameable, so impossible to ignore
that his eyes widen
like a leopard on harsh terrain
and for the first time he realizes
his innocence is a mirage
a false promise

and when it lifts
the carcasses stretch out so far and wide he cannot take a step without plunging into them
because there is no righting a river that runs this deep
at least not in a lifetime
but there is always repentance
there is always change
there is always healing

and as he forgets himself and the story of supremacy that has been whispered in his ear since birth
for the first time may he hear the song
that’s been reverberating for centuries
calling him to the land of the truly free
and may he be offered the grace of forgiveness
not in service of him
but in the name of all he will continue to hurt if not granted it

because we white people need to heal
not because we deserve more from this world
but because everyone else deserves to breathe



Becki Brown

A reluctant optimist, I use writing to talk myself down from the perpetual threat of existential crises. more musings @ https://beckibrown.net/