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Moments in the Mirror What Can We See In It?

By Robert Lilly



The ACU Black History Play was a well-attended event. Many patrons from both the school and the community came out to partake of this magnificent production. Those in attendance were black and white, student and professor, young and old. The affair caused many to laugh and to gasp with fear and concern and tears were also shed. However, at the end of the evening smiles were evident not only on the faces of the audience but also the entire cast.There was great {{more}} praise to the directors and the actors for their heart felt efforts. I was personally touched by each of the actors, who gave so much of themselves which inspired me to see more of myself, in the mirror of my own soul.This is the reason for this article. Can we really see ourselves? Can we see how we, as African Americans, treat each other? This play was a clarion call to the African American community to awake from our slumber; and to rise to a heightened sense of awareness. We have very real challenges to face as a people, the greatest of which is our internal divisions that are spawned by our group pathologies. For example, good hair, bad hair, light skinned sisters being hated on or stereotyped because they are light skinned. Dark skinned sisters being labeled as evil or angry or the haves downing those who have not. These are but a few of the contemporary examples of the classical divisions that have served to fracture our efforts as a community striving for greater equality. Moments in the Mirror was a play, with an HBCU as the backdrop, it served as the frame within which the picture of internecine strife was delicately assessed and addressed. The hope was that the audience both, so-called black and white would be empowered to see and identify and learn from this play the many sick ways in which we have as a society and a ‘race’ allowed ourselves to become divided by color connotations and color differentiations. At the Minda St. Church of Christ reception after the play, I asked one the directors, Brandon Jones, out of my own curiosity, if the Willie Lynch Speech was a source of inspiration for the themes of the play. And he unequivocally said “yes.” Then he quoted Mr. Lynch, “I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them…I guarantee everyone of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years [sic]…Don’t forget you must pitch the old Black male vs. the young Black males 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 vs. the dark skin.” These are the words, allegedly spoken by Mr. Willie Lynch on the James River in 1712 to a group of plantation slave owners. These slavers were said to have had a problem with keeping control over their slaves and so to prevent the wasteful annihilation of good slave labor through hangings, they supposedly called a successful plantation owner from the West Indies, Willie Lynch. The problem with this concept is that it gives too much power to one white man who is believed to have spoken these words over 300 years ago. The authenticity and historical accuracy of this speech has been thoroughly debunked by a prominent scholar Professor Manu Ampim in his “ Death of Willie Lynch”. To read more on his critical analysis of the Willie Lynch Syndrome go to, I must admit that I too was a ‘Syndrome’ advocate before reading his paper. However, today I am a student of truth and a critical thinker with a desire to see my people free and united. So, despite the lack of authenticity of the speech and the character of Willie Lynch, we are still faced with very real problems that were highlighted by this play. Now what? We continue to seek out the source of these issues and honestly face them armed with the weapons of true history and a firm resolve to change our miserable conditions. It was in that spirit that Prof. Manu Ampim wrote, “Many of the problems that Black people are facing today developed in the 20th century during and after the great African American migration around World War I and World War II. When we actually look at the negative affects of these migrations, urbanizations, and later integration, then it becomes clear that many of the problems that we are faced with today have no direct connection to slavery . Rather, these problems arose as Black people migrated from the southern region of the U.S. in the 20th century and lost the connection to our cultural values. It is well known that the social harmony within the African American community still existed well into the 20th century.”I want to again praise the Moments in the Mirror directors and cast for their gallant effort to get us to face our pathologies head on. Now it is time that we take their cue and heed to the call to address, with a critical eye for history, our multi-faceted issues of division. The African American community of West Texas is no better off than the worst blighted ghetto neighborhood of New York City. We are all suffering from an illusion of inclusion.

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The West Texas Tribune is a community-based newspaper that has been published, uninterrupted, since May 2005. Our goal is to highlight events and people throughout West Texas as an independent, locally run newspaper. We thrive on the support of our local community.

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