Abstract: A Poetic Translation of the Willie Lynch Letter
One day, a self-proclaimed brilliant man arrived at a podium to address a crowd of slavers. Together, they filled the air with enough heart-felt hatred to make the Lord want to start the whole world over from scratch. His name was Willie Lynch. As his surname would suggest, his message was one that suggested both physical and mental brutality as the magic ingredients to creating a loyal, fearful and well-controlled slave.
This letter has inserted itself into American history whether or not the authors of modern day textbooks would like to admit it. Consequently, this brings about a new challenge. Willie Lynch wrote a letter that outlined how slaves should be broken as if they were horses (Lynch). Why is this information being kept from American public school lessons? How can this be explained to middle school students? In a history lesson where eighth grade students are learning about the Southern American 1700’s, a poem could be used to introduce and explain the purpose of the Willie Lynch Letter. The original writing in Willie’s evil words is much too harsh and graphic to share with the class.
This poetic translation barely reveals the surface of the pain such a letter would impose. On the other hand, a poem would soften the blow and yet clearly get the message across to a young audience. Students might grasp the purpose of the letter and become more mindful of their treatment of one another. Nonetheless, writing Willie’s letter as a poem is like diluting bitter lemonade yet barely being able to sip it.
I came today to enlighten thee,
For you have workers who just might be,
Bold enough to ask of thee,
“Let me be free”.
Till flesh falls off of broken hips,
Never let them fix their lips,
Take my blueprint. See?!
You have to now control their minds,
Set old against young and dark against light,
Show them there’s no end in sight,
broken piece by piece!
They must live out their days in fear,
Work in enslavement till’ death is near,
Control their minds so you’ll never hear,
“Please let me be free”
Slavers take my brilliant words,
Watch your slaves, especially girls,
Twist their minds conformed to this world,
Controlled zombies you’ll see.
Now to what you must relate,
Is my message full of hate,
Break ‘em down likes horses today!
Whipping and hanging publicly,
haunting in their sleep.
Negro women give birth and bleed,
Raise her boy to be soft and weak,
Raise girls to independence and see,
Father absent abusively.
Slave families destroyed to be
without structure or harmony
Burn away male self-esteem,
They are lower than bison beasts!
For this is how you make a slave,
not running away towards early graves!
Loyal, singing the hot day away,
Scared to be set free!
Lynch, Willie. "Willie Lynch letter: The Making of a Slave."Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. N.p.. Web. 3 Jun 2014. <http://www.iupui.edu/~blacksu/PDF Documents/Documents/WillieLynchLetter.pdf>.