The Letter That Reshaped History

Tavon Harris, IUP

I still believe one of the greatest assets a human can possess is knowledge, and it is with this knowledge we understand the root of many of our issues today and stop the cycle known as oppression.

To deeply and richly understand history and the development of today's norms, classes and statutes, we are to look at the pioneer. A British slave owner who deeply hated African Americans as a people came up with a "fool proof method" for how to control and enslave a vulnerable population for years to come. In short, the “Willie Lynch Letter” lays out harsh methods for pitting slaves against each other by gender, age, and darkness of skin in order to deflect their attention from their white masters and, essentially, keep themselves oppressed.

This explains our hatred for one another because it had been instilled in us. We have been conditioned even within our own culture to dislike our race and discredit our history. The only real changes we are seeing are the ones who are fighting harder to stay the same. David Banner said, “The black population is the only race who takes advice of how to get out of oppression from the very people who oppress us.”

The deeper issue is this: the system of oppression that was put in place 500 years ago still remains today. How do we believe there won’t be another Oscar Brown or Michael Brown? We are quick to make excuses for these tragic murders, but no matter how you look at the issues, this culture was never designed for our tribe to succeed.

How do we get out? How do we end this nightmare? We educate – we change the culture. Educate within the African American history that this system of oppression is alive. If we do not collectively rise together, we will parish. We are the new leaders of our generation. Our responsibility is not to accept what has been going on, but going forward change the generational thinking that the way we have been living is acceptable. We have to embrace our race and know that once we invest in our culture, in our youth, business and education. Understand that we can no longer put off "The Change." We have to be "The Change." We are so quick to talk about issues only after they become popular in the media. Proactive instead of reactive has to be our mindset going forward. Then and only then will we change the mindset and grow as one. 

Here is the infamous letter that reshaped African American History. Reading this will open your mind to comprehend why much of what happened to us back then still occurs today. Knowledge, though, is only the first step. Once aware, it’s our responsibility to educate each other and consciously choose not to subscribe to the old traps of colorism that keep us from unifying and affecting large-scale change as a tribe.


“I have a fool-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 any overseer can use it.

“I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves, and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies, and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little test of differences and think about them. On the top of my list is “Age”, but it is there because it only starts with an “A”; the second is “Color” or shade; there is intelligence, size, sex, size of plantations, attitude of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine or coarse 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 is stronger than adulation, respect, or admiration.

“The Black Slave, 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 vs. the young Black male, and the young Black male against the old Black male. You must use the dark skinned slaves vs the light skinned slaves, and the light skinned slaves vs. the dark skinned slaves. You must use the female vs. the male, and the male vs. the female. You must also have your servants and overseers 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. My plan is guaranteed, and the good thing about this plan is that if used intensely for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful.”


#blacklivesmatter #educateouryouth #knowyourhistory