Damn you Willie Lynch!
Zachary M.C. Harris
Saturday, March 16, 2013
As I was looking for something for a client, I came across this old piece that I started on years ago, but never quite finished. As I started reading it, I realized that I needed to put it out there, and so I am updating it just a little bit.
For those of you that don’t know the story, Willie Lynch was a slaveowner whose letter delivered a message and corresponding blueprint that plays a major role in why Black people who suffered the tragedy and holocaust of both the Middle Passage and slavery act the way that they do towards one another, which has also stymied their forward progression. The infamous Willie Lynch letter was delivered on the bank of the James River in 1712. Essentially, as the legend goes there was a slavemaster in the Caribbean who developed a technique to keep the slaves enslaved through a number of manipulations which would make them not only fearful of escaping but would also keep them from unifying against their oppressors by getting them to continually snipe at each other. Of course, sniping is just one minor way of saying it, but it has been very effective in all of it’s manifestations. Examples of this could be seen in how the legendary director Spike Lee segregated the cast of the phenomenal movie School Daze to generate the authentic animosity that would carry onto the screen. Another prime example is how Pol Pot caused the wholesale slaughter of many of his Cambodian country in what is infamously known as “the Onion Fields.”
The essential points of it is to breed contempt for those that look different not only in complexion but also in features, have more or have less, are of a different age, or of a different gender. If you really want to look at how divisive it can be, just look at the island of Hispaniola and understand the history of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti and where they still are today; it’s a damned genealogical and cultural détente by people who share the same ancestry! And on the same damned island!
I still see it today in the lack of intersection between the many shades that make up the Black diaspora between African Americans and/or Caribbean Americans. And then some of us take it even further with an unacknowledged self hatred that goes beyond what we can understand.
And here is the what I wrote, with some minor editing:
The date is May 18, 2005 and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the last week was pretty much crazy. I was wondering if the new moon was making it “crazy woman” week, because there were numerous incidents in which women that I know, or had just come to meet, had said or done some acts that bordered on insanity and just plain-old tomfoolery and lack of common sense. Each one had their own bit of insanity, and of course some smart-ass would say it was because they were all dealing with me.
On Sunday, I had a wonderful conversation with my friend, Stephanie, in which she wound up writing something after I think of combination of reading some of my writings and various conversations with me. What she wrote really touched me, and our conversation turned more to some of the issues that we Black Americans face within relationships, and some of those issues that we, men and women each, bring to the table.
Cut to yesterday, which was a Tuesday; I was driving down the street while taking a break from my main gig, and while I was returning home, I was stopped along with other cars at a red light. I assayed this older sister (Black woman to those of you not familiar with the terminology) who was cutting across the street while I and the rest of traffic going in the same direction were waiting for the green light. As she came into my field of vision, I did a quick visual inspection and ran through the normal list of questions and what not in my head. One thing that I didn’t notice was a wedding ring. Really, in looking at her, I didn’t expect to find one either. At that point, it hit me; the answer to so many questions and issues revolving around Black male-female relationships. In not so many words, that answer was, and is, Willie Lynch. In a longer explanation, the answer is that it is so hard for us to form positive committed and monogamous male-female relationships because the plan was not for us to form them at all.
I know that some of you must’ve initially been thinking that I must be referring to Willie Horton and that I just had remembered the wrong name. However, while Willie Horton was used for political purposes, even he could look back and place some blame on Willie Lynch.
Now, these days I look around and I shake my head, simply because I see a ton of people out here whose thoughts of who you should value is based upon the latest trends, and those trends should be just that and leave no lasting marks or scars. People have the option to do and be whoever they want to be, but the problem is that no one cares to look five steps ahead. While people can always look at the small picture, the shortcoming is that they don’t know that the big picture exists nor know how to address it. What I have seen over the past decade is the stupendous volume of people, whether Black, white or Latino, flocking to emulate their favorite celebrities and expect that their lives might turn out the same way regardless of the fact that they lack talent, drive, ability, connections and common sense. What’s cute and cool when you’re in your twenties becomes something that you wish you never did when it comes to your forties and beyond. Looking at the example of the person who made it despite their actions is not accounting that the person you are looking at might be a serious intellectual or have talents at a level that surpass yours to a degree that you will never be able to reach. And for the attention you receive at that point in time, it doesn’t equal all of the forward progression that you have lost and can never regain.
Anyway, I don’t expect everyone to agree nor to understand, because you have to be at the point of understanding to even understand what I am saying. But we still need to reclaim ourselves from the gospel and machinations of Willie Lynch.
P.S. It has also been said that Willie Lynch is a myth