Posts Tagged ‘The Willie Lynch Letter’

Should We Allow Our History to Dictate Our Future

It is no almost undebatable that African-American history is unique and has had significant impact on the psyche of Black men and women, on the economics of the Black community and the structure (or lack thereof in the eyes of many) on the Black family.  And although many scholars, historians and everyone who has an opinion, differ on the facts of our history, the fact that we can all agree on is that no other race has had such a remarkable history.  The problem with ascertaining the verity of facts or confirming many of the stories being disseminated, is that records to support any of our history is shoddy, if not downright non-existent.  Since our African ancestors were considered “less than a whole” or “property” of the White slave owner, the need to keep birth records, marriage certificates, and the like, was considered futile.  So be it based on anecdotes, the paucity of records or an analysis of other available data, those who study African-American history have managed to give us all a sense of what occurred in the past 400+ years.

The question often raised, however, is what do we do with this information?  How and to what extent should our history affect our decisions, behaviors and beliefs…particularly when it comes to the Black family.  Depending on which source you refer to, the history of  the Black family (specifically the slave family) directly correlates to the state of the modern day Black family  or has some tangential connection to how the Black family is being destroyed.  In The Willie Lynch Letter, for instance, Willie Lynch, a formidable slave owner, wrote about and portended what we are currently experiencing and cleverly constructed this annihilation of the Black family from day one.  And whether any of us believe in the legitimacy of the letter, the parallels in the letter to what we are witnessing today, is very difficult to dispute.  On the other hand, many who refute the causal connection, do so based on the fact that chattel slavery ended  many generations ago,  and thus, the passage of time contributed to the dilution of the mental, psychological and spiritual effects on today’s Black community.  Many are of the mindset that, we should not harp on those facts and allow them to pervade our will to forge ahead in all respects.  Young and old, take the position that our history is just that, that we have the ability to see our future shaped as we would like it to if we stop allowing those negative accounts from the past determine how we perceive our economic, familial or psychological state.

The way I see it is this: we have a history that not one of us can deny no matter what has been confirmed.  I think it is essential to know exactly who we are to give each of us a clearer understanding and appreciation of who we would like to be.  So when it comes to the Black family, I do think that our confidence pervades each of us on some level and that is partly because a lot of us have no clue about our history.  I think that when you have no trust in yourself, it is difficult to have trust in a spouse, partner, paramour, brother/sister or family.  Many of us walk around today looking externally for some understanding, satisfaction and self-worth and this, in turn, extends to how we view family.  So our collective past does serve as guidance for the future, but self-determination, will and commitment can only be found in the present day.  I am always proactive and believe in taking action, and since knowing, understanding and appreciating our history can ignite us into doing something, I think if nothing else it should serve that purpose.