I am not going to lie, I fell for it.

The lie gave me the confirmation that our self-hatred for one another as a “race” was deep-rooted in the conditioning of our ancestor’s masters. This gave me the answer to where the word “lynch” came from. This lie secured my belief that “we black folks need to wake up” and that maybe this year, we might just awake from a sweeping slumber.

However, I think as African Americans, we claim rigor mortis in our community a little too quickly. We’re not dead, yet.

Three hundred years ago, in 1712, a British slave master supposedly named Willie Lynch allegedly wrote a letter and read a speech to slave owners in the colony of Virginia. In the letter “Willie Lynch” states that he is there to teach his effective methods from the West Indies on how to control the slaves. “Lynch” says that he has the secret method in a bag that will keep slaves maintained for 300 years. In an excerpt from the speech, Willie Lynch allegedly told the white masters that,

“My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it. I HAVE OUTLINED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE SLAVES; AND I TAKE THESE DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM BIGGER. I USE FEAR, DISTRUST AND ENVY FOR CONTROL PURPOSES. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it’s there only because it starts with an “a.” The second is “COLOR” or shade. There is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, SIZES OF PLANTATIONS, STATUS on plantations, ATTITUDE of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short.

“Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST AND ENVY STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for HUNDREDS of years, maybe THOUSANDS. Don’t forget, you must pitch the OLD black male vs. the YOUNG black male, and the YOUNG black male against the OLD black male. You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves. You must use the FEMALE vs. the MALE, and the MALE vs. the FEMALE. You must also have white servants and overseers [who] distrust all Blacks. But it is NECESSARY THAT YOUR SLAVES TRUST AND DEPEND ON US. THEY MUST LOVE, RESPECT AND TRUST ONLY US.”

The most interesting thing about this controversial letter and “speech” is that over the years not that many people have rebutted its authenticity. As a matter of fact, several African Americans take this short, simplistic document as gospel. Even Louis Farrakhan mentioned the speech during the 1995 Million Man March.

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