Exercising Freedom in the Land of the Free

American Social Casteism Freedom of Speech gun control implicit bias race relations Racially biased policing

All human societies develop and advance through different experiences and upheavals. Over four centuries American society has evolved from chattel slavery to systemic racism. The underlying reason for this system has always been about economics and power. Over the centuries many have accepted this system as sacrosanct. There are those who have actually built a religion around this system and would die protecting it. At this time all Americans black or otherwise who want to address issues of racism must clearly acknowledge that dismantling this intricate system would come with a lot of resistance.

The roots of American racism and discrimination go all the way back to 1619 in the Virginia colonies. The sale of the first twenty something Angolans set this system in motion. Over the course of several years for economic and political expediency this nation has developed a whole intricate system of laws, customs, practices and ordinances to codify this economic and social order. This system maintained people of African descent in the lowest social order with European Americans at the top.

The beauty of this stratified racial order lies in creating clear boundaries at the top and bottom. By having clear boundaries at the extremes, the system gave everyone else the opportunity to choose sides. Other groups are thus left jockeying for position and favor in the social hierarchy. Even some Blacks end up being co-opted to support and maintain the status-quo. The success of this system in maintaining racial hierarchy was clearly evident.

The Nazis in their efforts to develop a system for their Aryan master nation studied the legislatures of several US states to help develop their racial laws. Untermensch, a term that eventually became very popular in Nazi ideology was actually borrowed from America. The English translation of untermensh is under-man. This was taken from the 1922 book “The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man” by Lothrop Stoddard a Ku Klux Klan member.

The lengths to which our society would go to maintain that racial order can be seen in some contemporary events. Last week Sunday Jacob Blake a black man involved in a domestic dispute was shot seven times in the back by a cop. Jacob Blake is still fighting for his life at this time. Blake’s father reported a few days ago that his son who is now paralyzed was handcuffed to his bed in intensive care.

The body of Rubin Stacy hanging from a tree in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 19, 1935. Stacy was lynched by a mob for allegedly attacking a white woman.

Many are still asking why a paralyzed person in an intensive care unit needs handcuffs irrespective of the crime committed. Unfortunately Jacob Blake is already serving his sentence of paralysis imposed by Rusten Sheskey the cop who shot him. Nobody is raising any money to defend him because there is no need for a defense when a person has already been sentenced. Jacob Blake’s sentence and its execution was carried out on the streets of Kenosha. Unfortunately in the land of the free and home of the brave; Joseph Blake got street justice without a trial. Many black Americans see the incessant shooting of blacks by law enforcement for infractions not requiring deadly force as modern day lynchings.

This has led to protests that have resulted in more deaths and injuries. Those dead Anthony Hubner and Joseph Rosenbaum were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse a 17 year old boy. Kyle claims he went to Kenosha from Antioch, IL to protect property. It is not clear to me if he was hired to do that or if he was a volunteer. Kyle in his efforts to protect property not human lives has shot and killed two and injured one other. Many of us are still wondering how he managed to go home and sleep in his bed after those acts.

Let us take a look at the laws Kyle violated without immediate arrest;

Breaking local curfew

Unlawful possession of a rifle by an underage minor

Assault with a deadly weapon

Two homicides

A Christian site is currently raising money for Kyle’s legal defense. The group has so far raised close to $100,000. Many are questioning Kyle’s upbringing and pointing fingers at his mother. The truth is people like Kyle are products of our society and are responding to the cues received from the society at large. When Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in what Zimmerman considered an effort to protect white property he was also rewarded by right wing groups funding his defense. I find it interesting that whilst a father fights for his life and two other have lost their lives. A Christian group chooses to raise money to defend a person who believed in protecting property over human lives.

Jesus Christ says in Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

There are those who are trying to call Kyle Rittenhouse a freedom fighter. To those individuals I would ask? Whose freedom was Rittenhouse protecting? Those protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, the unfortunate young men Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are freedom fighters. Kyle was just there to protect property; in historical terms Kyle is the modern day slave hunter, who would hunt and return slaves to their masters either for free of for financial gain. That in my world view is not a freedom fighter, Kyle is the clear antithesis of a freedom fighter.

Anthony Huber a 26 year old father and skating enthusiast and another father Joseph Rosenbaum 36 years are those fighting for freedom and the rights of all Americans irrespective of race. We know our heroes, we know those among us who value freedom. I would not at this time count Kyle in that group.

By Dr. Leonard Sowah, an internal medicine physician in Baltimore, Maryland

Those interested in getting a deeper understanding of our racial order should consider reading “Castes: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson


A physician providing primary medical care to patients across the lifespan