This week, our staff and I had a conversation with some of our students about hope—and how it’s often in short supply for so many reasons; if it isn't poverty, it's gun violence, or the repercussions of systemic racism, like being harassed or arrested as a black person in a white neighborhood.
Then today, I realized I should have anticipated why a ‘’not guilty’’ verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial would hit me so hard.
We all know that Kyle's white skin allowed him to walk right past police, with an assault rifle with a warm muzzle, after murdering two men protesting injustice. Today he walked out of the courthouse a free man, while so many young black boys are not even afforded a trial.
One of the biggest threats to building equity for disenfranchised youth are the seeds of despair that get planted when things like this happen. They see a system that calls itself “the justice system” perpetuate injustice in the name of white supremacy.
At Catalyst Youth Network, we are devoted to helping build equity for Oakland’s youth. We grieve for the victims and their families who were denied justice today. We stand with those students and their families for whom today’s verdict has inflicted further racial trauma and confirmed their suspicion of two justice systems in this country.
Today, our hearts are heavy, though we will continue with this important work. We have not lost hope.
Robert J Rickett
Founder / Executive Director