The mysterious Willie Lynch manifesto has been around for decades. No one knows if the author was Black or White, man or woman. No one knows if Lynch was a real person, or a mythical character created by someone who wanted to emphasize the propagation of light skin vs dark skin slaves, pitting them against each other on plantations. Whatever the case, Lynch predicted that his formula for controlling and categorizing slaves would work for 300 years if slave masters followed his suggestion.
The Willie Lynch manifesto has ignited some interesting debates and conversations. None of the back and forth was more boisterous and comedic than between customers in community barber shops. In these shops you see and hear Willie Lynch personified. The debaters and conversationalists were both serious and side splitting hilarious when they explained slavery, dark and light skinned slaves, house and field slaves, and White masters who fathered hundreds of illegitimate "mixed" children, the result of raping young slave girls and women.
The mysterious Lynch was spot on in his evaluation of slave life. He was standing on a bankable check when he predicted that his blueprint to divide slaves by skin color would work 300 years if slave masters followed his strategy. As of 2013, in African American communities, there is still a [color] caste system in which light skin is more desirous than dark skin. If a light complexioned Black woman has long "good hair" that is a bonus for her. She will have Black men vying for her attention. She does not have to be movie star attractive on the scale of a Halle Berry. Light skin ordinary will suffice for those who ten to shy away from dark skin. Black males tend to fall in love with a woman's hair before they falls in love with her. It's not unusual to hear a Black man brag about his woman's long hair and light complexion. She is his long haired trophy on display. His friends envy him. Some African American men say long hair is the reason they like White women.
A large number of successful Black males prefer light complexioned Black women, Latino, White women. Light skin is a trophy of envy in their minds. It is fairly common to hear African American men make excuses for rejecting dark skinned women. This is puzzling, given the fact that many of their mothers, sisters, cousins and aunts are dark skinned. These Black males, many of whom are dark skinned themselves, find dark skinned women less attractive because they are too bossy, have too much attitude, too controlling. They say White women do not have these character flaws. Of course, this not true, but it gives Black males the excuse they need to explain their attraction to White women, and rejection of dark skinned Black women.
Thousands of African American parents favor their light skinned children over their darker children. I have read personal stories of parents pouring bleach in their children's bathwater, rubbing bleaching creams on the bodies of their children, getting their young daughters' hair permed. I have heard Black women say they prefer having children with a White man, a Latino, a light skinned Black man; any man but a dark skinned African American. Why? Because they want children with "good hair" and light complexions. They say that biracial children are prettier and smarter. This myth lives on in Black communities today. Realistically, not all biracial children have "good hair" and light complexions. Not all of them are pretty, cute to beautiful. Some if them have short kinky hair. Not all of them are highly intelligent.
Light skin, dark skin, videos and favored children
More proof of complexion preference is seen in music videos, TV commercials, the modeling industry, employment, magazine covers, the movies. A White music producer said light skinned entertainers are "less threatening than dark skinned entertainers". His reasoning is that White people find light skin more acceptable and pleasing to the eye. Beyonce, Queen Latifah and other African American women in beauty and hair commercials are so light skinned, even the Black community wonders if they have bleached their skins. Producers of the commercials "lightened" their skin using bright lighting, and select camera angles to make them look thinner. Oprah Winfrey said the lighting her studio was changed because dark skinned guests came across too dark on the TV screen.
It is not unusual to see dark skinned Black males in commercials. If they are at a party in the commercials, they are often paired with a White woman, or a light skinned African American woman. If children are in the commercial, they, too, are light skinned or interracial. The same rule of thumb applies to characters on the big screen. Male characters may be dark skinned, but their mates are light skinned, sporting long weaves. Producer, director, playwright and filmmaker Tyler Perry is the only filmmaker I have seen who consistently casts actors according to talent, not skin tones and body types. Characters in his plays and his TV shows are reflective of the characters in his movies. They are reflective of a true America.
When looking at musical videos in which the singer or rapper is African American, no matter the gender of the entertainer, you will see light skinned dancers with long weaves. Very seldom are dark skinned dancers seen in their videos. If one or two are in the videos they are usually relegated to the rear of the video. They are never lead dancers interacting with male entertainers, like their White counterparts. Being pretty and body perfect does not get on them on the front line. A noted reality show personality said she would never put female dancers in her videos if their skin is lighter than hers. Neither can a female dancer be prettier or skinnier than her.
Highly paid Black athletes lean towards White women as opposed to Black women. If they are married to or dating a Black woman, she is light skinned or fair skinned enough to be classified as "light." I have heard some figures in sports say that they seldom come across Black women in their travel and social life. In other words, African American women do not go to games or socialize in trendy night clubs like White women.
African Americans in deep denial
Years ago on a popular TV talk show I saw a Black male make clear his preference for White women because they are not loud like Black women. He said they are easier to get along with. He said he would never date a Black woman. He said if he did date a Black woman she would have to look like Halle Berry or prettier. He then said he was not sure if he would date Berry, even if she asked him for a date. He was fixated on White women and nothing was going to change his mind. The man was not slim, was not a snappy dresser, handsome or attractive. He was unemployed, and lacked a college education.
On another talk show--where the theme was race and heritage--the guests were African Americans, all of whom claimed to be of mixed heritage. They were adamant that they were not pure African American! However, not one of them could pass for White. One female guest in particular caught my attention, and that of the audience. She was attractive, well groomed, articulate, educated, gainfully employed. As she told of her heritage and bloodline, she named about four nationalities, none of which were African American, despite her mother and father being Black! She said she felt like a White woman trapped in Black skin.
This dark skinned woman, whose hair was perfectly permed, identified only with White people. When the host asked about her African American side of her family she became mildly incensed, insisting that she is not Black. This confused the host, the audience and me. Clearly she was an African American woman. She could not pass for White. But there was no confusion in her mind that she was not an African American. She had a teenage son, who she encouraged to date only White girls. He was not allowed to bring a Black girl to his parents home. The woman's son, who was dark skinned like herself, admitted that he was attracted to White girls. He did not find Black girls attractive. None of the other guests on stage were as extreme as this woman.
The Clark's Doll Experiment
In the 1950s psychologists Kenneth Brancroft Clark and his wife Mamie Phillips Clark, both African Americans, conducted an interesting experiment with Black children. The Clarks used a White doll and a Black doll in the experiment. Black children picked the White dolls because of their skin tone. African American children viewed the dark skinned dolls as unattractive and less intelligent.
The question of intelligence reminded me of an incident that occurred when I worked as a waitress in an upscale restaurant and bar that was frequented by educated, middle and upper middle class professionals, politicians, teachers and business owners, all African Americans. One night a customer approached me, asking if I was the one who wrote a weekly column for one the community newspapers. I told him I was, and he said with0ut thinking, "I didn't know you were that intelligent. . . . I mean . . . " I laughed at him, and asked him, "How do you tell who is intelligent?" He couldn't answer the question. I did not expect him to. I assumed he made the assumption because I am dark skinned and a waitress.
"The Clark's doll experiment grew out of Mamie Clark's master degree thesis. They published three major papers between 1939 and 1940 on children's self perception related to race. Their studies found contrasts among African American children attending segregated schools in Washington, DC verses those in integrated schools in New York.
"The doll experiment involved children presented with two dolls. Both of the dolls were completely identical except for the skin and hair color. One doll was White with yellow hair, while the other was Brown with black hair. The children were asked questions inquiring as to which one of the dolls they would play with, which one is the nicest doll, which one looks bad, which one the nicer color, etc. The experiment showed a clear preference for the White doll among children in the study. These findings exposed internalized racism in African American children, self hatred that was more acute among children attending segregated schools." (Wikipedia)
|"You must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves, and the light skin slaves vs. the dark skin slaves . . ." Willie Lynch|
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 would envy us if my program is implemented.
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 full proof 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. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it.
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, sizes of plantations, 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 a outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that distrust that 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 your white servants and over-seers distrust 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 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. Thank you gentlemen.