antonia-williams-gary_2_web.jpgThe founders of this country were fueled by passion and zeal to escape the oppression of the King of England which propelled them to search for a new home, free to practice their religion. They’re still working things out.

Having annexed all the land and peoples in the territory, enslaving an entire race from Africa to build the land, amending their Constitution a few dozen times, allowing select groups of people in from time to time, having occasional war with perceived enemies — all “over there” — etc., it’s becoming a great nation. So they say.

But there is trouble in the “land of the free and home of the brave.”  All is not well with the soul of the United States of America. 

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the remarks alleged to have been delivered by William Lynch, British islands slave owner, to slave-holders of the American South on his methods to successfully create a slave and, thereby, to control slaves.  The term “lynch” is believed to have been taken from his name. Widely known as the Willie Lynch Manifesto — plenty of information is on the Web — the document lists psychological methods used to keep hundreds of thousands of able-bodied men and women enslaved and to give peace of mind to the minority whites in control.

How was it done?  The bottom line of the Willie Lynch Manifesto, fictional or true, was to divide and conquer the Africans, pitting women against men,  house slave against field slave, the “articulate” against those who spoke a vernacular, light skin against dark skin, etc.  These classic structures of oppression were institutionalized in America.  How else could far fewer whites in the South keep a mass of humanity down except by mental enslavement? 

In my last column, I reflected on how, in my opinion, “tribal” bonding and identification with a group of familial members, whether blood kinship or self-selected families, serve as one of the fundamental building blocks for freedom.  I was personally empowered by my own family’s tight bond that remained unbroken since 1795, an unusual legacy, I know, but there are others. Perhaps even yours?

Lynch recommended the breakup and breakdown of the natural family unit. I believe that this one single factor, breaking up families, has compounded a host of increasingly untenable behavior to date —black male unemployment, births to single black women, rates of black divorce, black men incarcerated, unmarried black women, AIDS in heterosexual black women over 50, unlearned black students, blacks killing blacks, and so much more — and allowed the centuries-long mental enslavement of Africans and their offspring in America.

SLAVE MENTALITY

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Willie Lynch Manifesto, which was promulgated on Dec. 25, 1712, I think it is imperative for each of us to examine how we may still be suffering under the delusion that we are really free from the mental enslavement that had been practiced, and perfected, for many generations.

I have had to periodically stop myself from completing the thought that I might be better off than my brother or sister because I have  certain material comforts, or a certain level of education, or live in a particular zip code, or that my children had never been to jail , or, or, or…

These thoughts are just another manifestation of the slave mentality that was used so successfully to make me see you as “other” and not part of my family, my tribe, and therefore to not love you.

It is especially irksome that the dominant group still attempts to divide and conquer when they pick us off for being uniquely peculiar: really appearing more like them when we wear the mask, not knowing that we take off the masks when we go “home.”  And we must go “home” at some point.

FREE YOUR MIND

The mental shackles are especially heavy when they show up in the big island-little island conflicts, played out in the British versus the French versus the Dutch or Spanish legacies that the colonizers left as part of their brand of mental

enslavement that is alive and well throughout our little society here in South Florida.

It used to be born in the “South” versus the “North;” being from the Bahamas versus Alabama or Georgia; mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe. But always some divider.

I don’t have space to talk about hair.  Gabby Douglas won a gold medal for all-around gymnastics and we have kicked her out of the “family” because of the appearance of her hair!

Free your mind!  Kick Willie Lynch out of your head! 

So, to my family, blood kin and all the rest of you that I have invited into my large tent as you read this, via Facebook, Linkedin and other modern connecting tools, I welcome you and I hope you will welcome me as we collectively thrust off all the remaining mental shackles that have for 300-plus years been placed on our minds, in our hearts, and has kept up all from being free.

Are you practicing what you know to be true?  Have you looked in the mirror?  Are you ready to go home?

One love.

Antonia Williams-Gary is a consultant with Miami-based Savings and Grace Enterprise. She may be reached at toniwg@bellsouth.net