I recently read, for the third time, The Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave. The letter is said to be a speech delivered by Willie Lynch on the bank of the James River in the colony of Virginia in 1712. Lynch was a British slave owner in the West Indies. He was invited to the colony of Virginia in 1712 to teach his methods to slave owners there.
In his speech Lynch said that he had a foolproof method for controlling Black slaves, “I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, it will control the slaves for at least 300 years.” He said that his method was simple and that any member of the slave owner’s family or their overseer can use it.
Excerpt from the letter:
“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 list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “Age” but it’s only there because it starts with an “a”. The second is “color” or shade. There is intelligence, size, sex, sizes of plantation, status on plantation, 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. 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 slave receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Don’t forget, you 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 a white overseer who distrusts all Blacks. But it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect and trust only us. Gentlemen, these kits are our keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them. Never miss an opportunity. If used intensely for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful. Thank you gentlemen.”
Let’s make a slave.
I ask this question; in 2015 are the teachings of the Willie Lynch Letter still applicable? Do we distrust each other? Do we treat each other differently because of skin shade or hair texture?
I remember a personal experience where many years ago I interviewed with a major wealth management firm in Atlanta. In my interview the owner asked, “Why do you think you will do well in this business?” I responded and he followed with this statement, “My experience tells me that African-Americans don’t do well in this business because African-Americans don’t trust each other.” This shocked me, because I was sitting across from a white man who was telling me to my face something that was true for some African-Americans.
I have been in business for many years and it would be disappointing for me to share some of the things I’ve experienced. I have also been Black for 40 years and I have seen the Willie Lynch Letter at work. If this letter is still holding true at any level, all remnants of this philosophy must be eradicated immediately. We must all trust and love each other, both Black and white.
I encourage you to read the letter for yourself and draw your own conclusion on his pledge that his methods would last for at least 300 years.
(Mahari A. McTier is a Financial Advisor with Tier 1 Advisors, LLC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)