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Divisions in Black Community Began Long Before Slavery, Willie Lynch Letter

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Deeper than Willie Lynch


“Take this simple list of differences and think about them…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, coarse hair, or is tall or short…


“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…You must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves…You must use the female vs. the male…”


The above statement is from the purported Willie Lynch Letter.


And while some of the divisions that were talked about in the letter are still relevant in the Black community, the impact of the letter on the Black community is nonexistent and the letter might be a total fabrication anyway.


Although slavery did probably cause some divisions in the Black community and the community still has a crab in the bucket mentality, the divisions within the Black community started long before the first slave ship set sail during the Middle Passage.


The divisions in the Black community started in Africa where Africans did not unite behind color.  Africans united because of tribal affiliations.


Somehow, the Black community thinks that there was a day when people of African descent stuck together because of race.


Race is a social construct that truly manifested as a way of justifying slavery and the destruction of Native Americans.


Very few thought about race before Europeans used it to justify their sins during slavery.


The divisions that exist in the Black community when it comes to neighborhoods, cities, states, age, gender, wealth, etc. has existed since the beginning of time.


While divisions are definitely nothing to be proud of, blaming the wrong culprit will not lead to the community uniting and eliminating those divisions that exist.


Although the “novel” by Alexs Pate based on the Joseph Cinque biopic “Amistad” is historical fiction, the character Covey, portrayed by a young Chiwetel Ejiofor, explained the divisions best.


“‘These tribes,’ began Covey, ‘would have nothing to do with each other at home.  As little as possible anyway.  The Mende consider the Lokko backwards.  The Kono say the Fula are thieves.  The Sherbro, well, they’re hardly worth thinking about at all.  They’re so honest they’re foolish.  If a Sherbro finds money, for instance, he almost always gives it back.  The Temne are the only ones the Mende have any respect for because of their fighting abilities.  But they also hate them for the same reason.  They’ve lost a lot of land to the Temne over the years.’”


The same divisions that Covey described are still strikingly relevant today.


Certain people look down on those from a lower socioeconomic background and consider them less than because of what neighborhood they come from.


Drug dealers fight other drug dealers for “real estate” or turf.


College fraternity members often fight members of other college fraternities.


Some people from the North think that some people from the South are slow or backwards.


And like it or not, President Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House has divided the Black community even more.


Some people do not want to support artists like Chrisette Michele because of perceived support of Trump.


The only way for the Black community to come together is to realize that there have always been differences and “divisions” in the Black community.


The key is to acknowledge those differences with love and without it dividing us.


If the community can finally realize that Willie Lynch, slavery and discrimination are not what initially divided us, maybe the community can start taking responsibility for mistakes that it is started way back in ancient Africa.

This article was published on Friday 27 January, 2017.
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