Why Color Me Black: A Willie Lynch hangover that won’t go away


By Chinta Strausberg


A friend of mine sent me a link to an upcoming documentary entitled: “Dark Girls.” I was puzzled at the title but after viewing just a few seconds of the clip I felt a sharp pain pierce my heart followed by a rush of sadness and ultimate anger.

It was literally a breathless moment for me watching “Dark Girls (http://vimeo.com/24155797 ). Why” Because it was like I was watching the 299-year Willie Lynch Letter curse being reborn in 2011 and its psychologically poisonous tentacles choking the life out of black people in America and no one did this dastardly deed to us but us.

Watching that film was like removing myself from the 21st Century and being supplanted in the 1800’s deep, deep in the South where whites hated blacks solely because of the color of their skin. Slavery was good for business. It built America for free—free labor, stolen African lives—and centuries of seeds of hate implanted into the minds of African Americans that they are inferior to those with lighter skin and straighter hair. What utter nonsense.

This is why when I buy a doll for my 4-year-old niece, I buy one black the other white and I make sure she knows both are beautiful.

In 1939, Mrs. And Mrs. Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife, Mamie, conducted “The Clark Doll Experiment” where they asked children to choose the prettiest doll. All of them chose the white doll.  (http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/the-clark-doll-experiment/ ).

The clip dredges up the nightmare and the racism that then 6-year-old Ruby Nell Bridges, now Ruby Neil Bridges Hall, went through when her parents put her in the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. President Eisenhower had to order U.S. Marshals to protect the child as she walked through angry white parents who threatened to kill and poison her because of the color of her skin.

Self-hatred is taught at home. I challenge each of you to look at a white doll and a black doll and honestly decide which is the prettier of the two then think about the names some of you call your children, words like the “n” word.

This self-fueling, generational self-hating curse must end today. Could it be behind the current wave of violence in our community? I keep saying that love is such a powerful force. Love can stop the bullets. Love can stop the violence, and love can bring us peace.

While some people black and white don’t believe the Willie Lynch Letter is authentic, read some of the excerpts and make your own decision. This is the infamous letter allegedly written by Willie Lynch whose name was used when hanging blacks from trees in the South.

December 25, 1712 


“I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest and still the oldest methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome’s would envy us if my program is implemented.

“As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasions.

“I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree, a couple miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, You suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed.

“Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years [2012].

“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 make the differences bigger. I use fear, distrust and envy for control.

“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, size of plantations and 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 you white servants and overseers distrust all Blacks. It is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect and trust only us. Gentlemen, these kits are your 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 of each other. Thank you gentlemen.”

The clip Dark Girls, which is represented mostly by dark-skinned African American women and girls, actually thought they were unattractive because their skin is dark!!! This is 2011 and I thought we were all over that nonsense. I thought the Willie Lynch letter allegedly written by a British slave owner named Willie Lynch left a formula (a letter) instructing whites how to keep blacks in self-bondage both mentally, socially, economically and racially.

Someone please pinch me because I thought, I had hoped parents didn’t teach their children the racism of yesterday that blacks with good hair are better than their peers with nappy hair and some people recoil at the word nappy!!!

I would hope that parents are not teaching their children that light-skinned blacks are better and smarter than their darker brothers and sisters. That is reverse racism and it has no place in our society. Why would a mother or father teach a child to hate themselves because of the color of their skin?

And, black men suffer from this obvious posttraumatic slavery syndrome as well. Many African American men will only date light-skinned black women or white women and wouldn’t think of going out with a darker-sinned woman. How foolish is that? How racist is that?

And, shame on adults who plant that poisonous anti-black seed in the precious minds of our children. I knew a little girl whose sister had long straight hair but her hair as nappy. Both girls were very light-skinned and both very attractive but the one with nappy hair would put a sweater on her head and swing it around to be like her sister. That’s crazy!! Insane!!! It is so self-defeating. Why put yourself down over the color of your skin.

God made a garden of “flowers” not just one race or ethnicity of people.

What is the answer to this generational curse? Education. We need to teach our children their history. When you know from whence you come, you behave differently. When you know from whence you come, you don’t go around shooting each other. “When you know who you are and from whence you come, you don’t go around raping and robbing each other.

How long will the Willie Lynch Letter prevail in our community, in our mindsets, in our upbringing? How long will we continue to plant seeds of self-hatred into our children’s minds? Must we go through our own exodus from Egypt to cleanse this sick post-traumatic slave syndrome? If so, God help us for then the killing will continue. Our babies and our leaders for tomorrow will die leaving all of us vulnerable and helpless. 

When will this Willie Lynch hangover go away? When will we learn to love each other? When will we stop saying, ‘If you black, stay back. If you’re brown, stick around, if you’re yellow, you’re mellow’?  I challenge you to end the 299-year curse today and begin planting seeds of love and self-respect. Do it for the children. Do it for yourselves.

My family represents a rainbow from white to the color of the Mother Earth. We don’t teach racial hatred though in the past some parents were color struck as older people called the syndrome. Thank God my family has grown. How I wish all African Americans can grow and bury this Willie Lynch syndrome forever.

And, lastly, after viewing the clip, go to officialdarkgirlsmovie.com/ donate-to-the-film/ and support this film that hopefully will awaken and prick the conscious of black and white people in America.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.