2008-08-22 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Crime On The Peninsula, Part II:
By Jaleesa L. Davis Student, Medgar Evers College

The first part of this comment column appeared in last week's Wave.

When further discussing the problems that Black America faces, there is the destruction of the family. More and more African American children are growing up in households with no father. A child being born out of wedlock is an increasingly destructive phenomenon in Black America. It is manifesting itself in African American men who develop an identity crisis early in life. They seek comfort in other young adults who come from similar circumstances and many of these associations can become criminal in nature. This is a result of the slavery era practices, discussed in last week's column, of taking the male image away from the family and today the situation seems to still exist. Whether the dad is in jail, on drugs, or just does not want to take care of his responsibility, that is a result of separating the families.

The media portrays negative images of African Americans so much that Black Americans imitate what they see and believe this is the way they are supposed to behave. Being ghetto, trashy whores, drug dealers, pimps, deadbeats, drug abusers, alcoholics, mentally challenged (stupid), etc. Those who believe sometimes look ignorant and mostly are the youth. Some are even pretending everything is ok, because a few of them own cars; others have good jobs and live in a house in the suburbs. While the majority are living in some urban community, also known as the 'projects.' African Americans need to make a change for the future of the youth. They are the ones who are going to suffer from this behavior.

Bill Cosby even gave African Americans something to distract them away from the negative reality so they could focus on something positive. Along with Will Smith and his show, "All of Us," however, did this reality help or hurt? Did it make African Americans more conscious of a fantasy world and less familiar with what was going on right outside their doors? Even though there was a different atmosphere on these shows, this did not help. To some it might have given them hope, but to others it probably made them angry to see these African Americans so well off while they, themselves, were stuck in the ghetto, living off public assistance, trying to make ends meet while depending on the government for support.

Some African Americans believe that is all they are destined to be, welfare recipients. Those who felt bad watching others prosper would probably call them sellouts, just because they were the ones who took their lives seriously and made something of themselves. The claim that Lynch is only a myth seems to be true. There are many written materials from the slavery era, yet there is not one reference to a William Lynch speech given in 1712. This is very curious because both free and enslaved African Americans wrote and spoke about the tactics and practices of white slave masters. Historian, researcher, and professor Manu Ampim says, "However, when we examine the details of the 'Willie Lynch Speech' and its assumed influence, then it becomes clear that the belief in its authenticity and widespread adoption during the slavery era is nothing more than a modern myth.

In this brief examination, I will show that the only known 'William Lynch' was born three decades after the alleged speech, that the only known 'William Lynch' did not own a plantation in the West Indies. That the 'speech' was not mentioned by anyone in the 18th or 19th centuries, and that the 'speech' itself clearly indicates that it was composed in the late 20th century." I, too, did research on William Lynch and came up with the same person Ampim speaks about in his quote. We are still left with the same question, did Lynch even exist?

Believers of the William Lynch Speech called his methods mental slavery. Those who are non-believers say that an African-American wrote this letter in modern times. The purpose was to use this letter as a wake-up call. The first reference to the Willie Lynch speech was in a late 1993 online listing of sources, posted by Anne Taylor, who was then the reference librarian at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

She posted ten sources to the UMSL library database and the Lynch speech was the last item in the listing. Taylor, in her 1995 email exchanges with the late Dr. William Piersen (Professor of History, Fisk University) and others interested in the origin of the Lynch speech, indicated that she kept the source from which she received the speech anonymous upon request, because the source who gave her the speech was unable to establish the authenticity of the document. On October 31, 1995, Taylor wrote: "Enough butt-covering, now it's time to talk about where I got it. The publisher who gave me this [speech] wanted to remain anonymous…because he could not trace it, either, and until now I've honored his wishes. It was printed in a local, widely-distributed, free publication called The St. Louis Black Pages, 9th anniversary edition, 1994*, page 8." [*Taylor notes: "At risk of talking down to you, it's not unusual for printed materials to be 'post-dated' - the 1994 edition came out in 1993]. There is no evidence that Lynch even existed, and because of the secrecy of where this letter came from, it does sound as if this is all a myth or some type of wake-up call, but who knows.

I quote author Iyanla Vanzant, "You must be willing to give total unconditional love to everyone, under all circumstances. That means being willing to be totally responsible for what you do and how you do it." With that being said, even if William Lynch did not exist and some African American male or female did write this letter in reference to what the white slave owners did to slaves, you all should forgive and not forget. However, use this information to better yourselves, prove that the stereotypes with which the media label you are wrong, and make a change. Make a Change not only for yourself, but also for future generations to come.

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