Joy Reid Explains The Power Of White Male Tears In Kyle Rittenhouse & Brett Kavanaugh Trials

Photo: Youtube / lev radin / Shutterstock
Kyle Rittenhouse, Joy Reid, Brett Kavanaugh

MSNBC correspondent and political commentator Joy Reid is being hit with criticism after comparing the Kyle Rittenhouse trial to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in what Reid is deeming as “white male tears.”

Of course, there is some validity to her observation, especially when remembering the outcome of the Kavanaugh case in which he had been accused by a high school friend of committing sexual abuse to her.

Brett Kavanaugh seemingly cried his way through a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the allegations and effectively received no repercussions — instead he became an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

“His tears turned out to be more powerful than the tears of Christine Blasey Ford, which were the tears of an alleged victim,” Reid explained in her video.

What are white male tears?

White male tears are typically a reaction seen when those who exploit their own privilege see the consequences of their actions.

Men like Kavanaugh don't cry when they allegedly sexually assault women — but will cry when they're accused of doing so.

Rittenhouse didn't appear to shed a tear when he marched into a protest holding a deadly weapon and shot three people — but he did cry when he took the stand. 

“In America, there’s this thing about both white vigilantism and white tears, particularly male white tears,” Reid continues. 

RELATED: Guilty Verdict Or Not, Kyle Rittenhouse Will Be A Far-Right Martyr

As Rittenhosue was called to testify about the moments leading up to shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, one of the protestors at the anti-police brutality demonstration in Kenosha, Rittenhouse tearfully recounted the events.

His voice choked up, his face went red, and yet, he was not crying in regret for the lives he took during the protest, but instead, he was crying for himself.

That is the power of white male tears.

Rittenhouse cried for his claim of self defense as he described the night in August 2020 where he felt the need to bring a loaded AR-15 and open fire on a group of protestors.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rittenhouse ‘wept.’ — “I defended myself.”

It’s hard to feel sorry for white men who are accused of violent crimes and misconduct.

Kyle Rittenhouse and Brett Kavanaugh have used their tears to their advantage. 

Turning to tears in an effort to appeal to the majority of white people in America — who will see the emotion and only think of their own white sons — is a strategy, whether they know it or not.

This isn’t to say that the effects of the patriarchal system hasn’t limited men’s ability to cry and show emotion without being taunted, because it has.

But, for some conservative white men, like Kavanaugh and Rittenhouse, who have aligned themselves with the ‘blue lives matter’ crowd and the far-right, they only show tears at Trump rallies, and anti-abortion protests.

They cry for the Confederate Flag, and shout, red-faced, when asked to wear masks and get vaccinated.

They don’t cry for the actual injustices happening in this country.

RELATED: Why White Boys (And Their Parents) Think They Are The Victims Of A "Woke" Society

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They don’t cry for Ahmaud Arbery’s family, they don’t show sympathy for Jacob Blake, or the other hundreds of Black people killed by the failed institutions in this country.

They don’t cry for the Chrstine Blasey Fords, or the Chanel Millers, instead they cry for themselves to appeal to the other people just like them to feel bad for them.

It’s hard to feel bad for Rittenhouse, to look at his tear-stained face and think he deserves to walk free.

If Kyle Rittenhouse had been a person of color, there may not have even been a trial. There wouldn’t have been an opportunity for him to cry on the stand because he probably would’ve been shot dead the moment he was seen with any sort of firearm.

He wouldn’t even have made it to the stand in the first place.

The Rittenhouse trial is being held in front of an almost all-white jury, with a white Judge who described the protestors as “rioters,” “looters,” and “arsonists, and is being viewed by a country that holds favoritism for white vigilantism.

In these circumstances, people view Rittenhouse tears as something to praise and view with reverence.

Rittenhouse’s tears hold value for white America.

Instead of being painted as a ruthless killer who went out to that protest with the mindset of shooting innocent people, Rittenhouse has successfully branded himself as the unwilling killer, who had no idea what he was walking into, and therefore can’t be held accountable for his actions.

White male tears tap into the white privilege that accompanies them, and unfortunately, the success of Kavanaugh is the result of weaponizing those tears, which may be the same fate for Rittenhouse.

RELATED: The Problem With Predominantely White Juries Deciding On Both Ahmaud Arbery And Kyle Rittenhouse Trials

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.