Letter: I am a minority, I am an individual and I am free


Letter writer John Rochford responds to the column “Chicago shootings represent a new US anthem.” 

John Rochford

This letter is in direct response to the article entitled “Chicago shootings represent a new US anthem.” The crux of this article is partly about the recent rising violence in Chicago and other major cities across the United States that affected and continues to affect a disproportionate amount of Black people around Independence Day.

Instead of examining and articulating any deeper reasons as to what exactly is the causation of this violence, the author claims the Fourth of July is a white lie: 24.7 percent of this country is not free (although I think she meant 23.7 percent if she is subtracting the 76.3 percent white-only population from the total population linked to the census data she provides). Subsequently, the author believes the national anthem, which she considers the story of American independence from Great Britain, does not represent the United States in 2020.

Alternatively, this country’s real national anthem “reeks of killing Black and Brown Americans … reeks of oppression … [and] has nothing to do with freedom. Otherwise, people would be free. Black and Brown Americans would be free.”

Well, I am one of those minorities. I do, believe it or not, possess autonomy. I am free. Let us examine her arguments.

First off, this is a slight digression, but I do not think the author understands the historical origin of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The story the song relates is the successful American defense of Fort McHenry at Baltimore in September 1814 during the War of 1812, not July 4th, 1776.

With that digression aside, let me address her view on what freedom is not, because she fails to explain what freedom does entail. The author hopes our view of freedom is not found in the right to bear arms because “Black people can’t bear an arm without getting shot.”

Well, let us dissect that for a moment, using the George Floyd protests as an example. A rudimentary Google search would show the author that minorities have exercised their First and Second Amendment rights at demonstrations across the country.

At Stone Mountain, Georgia, without an arrest or death, a Black militia of approximately 200 protested the Confederate monument in the state park, and indeed, they were heavily armed. The same organization appeared in Texas, and though I may not fully agree with the entire ideological agenda of these groups like the NFAC (go look up the name, it cannot be published, I am sure) I do agree with their right to bear arms.

Heck, armed Black Lives Matter protesters and right-wing groups banded together in Richmond, Virginia, to support the Second Amendment. I can tell you personally, here in Story County, Iowa, my race did not make it difficult to obtain a carry permit from the sheriff’s office. My race has not played any role in purchasing firearms, nor in carrying firearms, and I am not the only minority with that story. So yes, I will say one of our unique American freedoms includes bearing arms.

I will say, however, that minorities, including Black children, have indeed died at the hands of gun violence. Ironically enough, blue cities across the county took their time in clearing out areas where armed violence and occupation occurred and turned a blind eye to what left-wing individuals would have once upon a time considered gross illegal gun activity and transfer.

In Seattle’s former yet infamous police-free “CHOP” zone, one of the appointed leaders named Raz handed out rifles from the back of his car to individuals who clearly possessed little firearm experience and were possibly underage.

Several shootings took place and multiple deaths occurred, including a 16-year-old Black male, killed by “CHAZ security,” the very people allegedly protesting police brutality against Black people. An 8-year-old Black girl was shot and killed outside the same Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed.

Heavily-armed Black Lives Matter occupiers opened fire on a van, killing the young girl. “You killed your own — you killed your own this time,” the father of the girl sadly uttered. “You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody.”

Now, do not blame the state for denying minorities’ Second Amendment rights. In fact, local authorities went out of their way to placate illegal and violent activity mixed within peaceful protests to avoid accusations of racism and to avoid the wrath of cancel culture. Not quite a “Summer of Love” when you have a mass breakdown of law and order. When police officers or any authorities breach our rights or take lives unjustly, as they did George Floyd and others, we must hold them accountable. What is not justified is a zero-sum game.

Now to address the other points of what freedom is not, according to the author. According to the author, Black and Brown people cannot even go on a jog without fearing death. All the author wants is to live in a world where “Black and Brown Americans aren’t afraid to walk the streets that are tattered with public lynchings and color shaming.” Wow. That is quite an extraordinary assertion.

I run every day, like many people, including Black and Brown people, without being attacked. I even run past or alongside white people. I just walked back from my gym, among other places, and there was not a lynching in sight. That is probably true for most of you reading this too. I was curious to see what source the author linked to qualify and quantify her lynching allegation, for that is quite a powerful statement to assert Black people cannot even leave the house occupying streets full of lynchings.

It turns out her “evidence” is an article detailing Black incarceration rates and even describes how Black prison disparity is decreasing since 2000-2016 to boot. That is a relief, I suppose, but it begs the question of journalistic integrity in making a claim while citing a source that is entirely irrelevant to the point made.

Let us round back to the beginning of the article. The author tells us minorities in the country are not free. All 24.7 percent (23.7 percent?) of us have no real autonomy in the United States. Apparently, all minorities lack individuality and different lived experiences. Fear not, though, for the white progressives are here to save us. Who better than a white female sophomore at Iowa State University to tell me, (“a Black or Brown American”), that I am not free.

I am overjoyed that I do not live my life based upon what the author’s racial assumptions dictate, which brings me to another point. To the author: I do believe your article engages in racial stereotyping. Unfortunately for you, the ideological framework held by you and your editorial board forbids you from challenging my contention. According to you and your editorial board, you cannot disagree with my claim on what constitutes racism because you are white and I am not. Anything less would be flagrant hypocrisy.

Remember, “context does not matter.”  Why is this author and other white authors at the Daily even writing about racial subjects?  According to, well, themselves, they should not be. That is not what I believe, but it is interesting they cannot even practice what they so righteously preach. Do you see how useless that ideological premise is for furthering discussion? Is that truly a unifying, liberating message?  Who does have the right? This may be a long article, but every word needs to be said. 

I realize plenty of minorities will vehemently disagree with what I am writing, as will many white people. I also know many minorities and white people will agree with what I am writing and some will be in the middle. That is good, for we are all individuals, including minorities, with varying dreams, abilities, wants, desires, ideas and beliefs. That is called diversity of thought, which is extremely valuable, especially in today’s climate.

Though there are undeniably problems and polarization in this country, and there are undoubtedly good and bad people of every race, color and creed in this country, I would certainly not want to be anywhere else. The problems we do face as a society we should face together, but making fantastical claims does nothing to unify, it only furthers the divide. In all, I love this country, and regardless of what anyone claims, I am free.

John Rochford is a graduate student in history and a former columnist of the Iowa State Daily.