Willie Lynch was allegedly a slave owner who wrote a formula 300 years ago for enslaving black people, here is a link to his work.

This describes the methods used to destruct and break a person’s spirit, their mental being and cultural background to turn them into the enslaved. This is my the first identification, whether true or false, of how African people may have been enslaved. It made me feel ill to think of the physical, emotional and mental abuse my people were subjected to, but what really resonates in my mind was the fact that the descendants of the people are still  physically, mentally and emotionally enslaved but a lot of us are unable to realise it, for example my name is Salama Naeemah Kefentse which means Peace Benevolence and  courage as a child I grew up disliking my name because it was uncommon, it didn’t fit in with the people I grew up with. Only as I grew older I began to appreciate my name as being unique and strong, having meaning gave myself meaning.

Where I am Going?

As a child I never celebrated black history, I don’t remember much about any historical figures, I don’t remember my mum, dad or grandparents telling me about role models or heroes that were black. Where I want to go from here is to re-establish the fact that black people will and can rise up,they can work together within their communities for their communities. From here I want to celebrate my people together, enabling them to share their perspective of the theory and its effects in today’s society but also giving them a  chance to commemorate all that young, old, light, dark black people have achieved.

The truth within the theory.

Is there truth to the formula used? My mission is to identify examples of this truth within my community, for example Mental health statistics, Unemployed black men vs achieving black women , Black on black crime stats Black men in prison.

To gather opinions about this topic I approached a local community group called  Jamafrique which is based at the Malcolm X Centre, they are a group of African-Caribbean
volunteers who work to support and operate a youth and adult social club. I created a number of questions and their gathered responses :

Do you believe the theory to be true?

“The theory did work, he passed on his experiences and the effects are still here to today, for example why are people bleaching their skin, perming their hair, changing eye colour. Do you think we still suffer from a slave mentality? “yes we  do, ‘slave mentality’ do people nowadays understand slave mentality, a mother perms their daughters hair, we see it as normal not linking it back to slavery- why is this? Because we don’t research, why don’t we support our black people by going into their shops? Looking at the community who is the most disunited- Black people. Do we black people regenerate our community”

How can this theory create positive change and outcomes for Black people and those affected by slavery? And what can be changed?

“Consciousness, addressing or changing your level of thinking, creating conscious groups reinforces the issue at school at home with family and friends. Look at the changes within the community, for example the way that Muslim people reinforce their way of life within their own schools. We need to create groups that are specific, African-Caribbean people only with no mixing, where are the boundaries, we need black teachers, we need to change the language that we use, saying ‘black’ allows others to fit in saying ‘African’ gives them no place. This theory can lead to community organisations holding conferencing and debates, taking a trip to Africa, having the chance to learn or hear about who the survivors were, where are the black people now. We need to be binded, where is our community, who is our community?

Who is responsible for implementing change? We are all of us individually and collectively take responsibility for implementing change, we need to start with a few small ideas such as debates, and awareness days to begin with on a small scale eventually growing and getting bigger within the community. Peer mentoring, sharing opinions, use this book as a debate indicator. We need to stop talking and start changing although not everyone feels the same, people may not be interested in making a change.

A Walk In the Park.

I was lucky enough to attend the slavery trail in Bristol, with only a small group we embarked on this journey where we would learn about slavery and its past. We walked through Queens Square and heard all about the things that had taken place there and the people who were involved. There was so much information to receive but none of it stuck in my mind.

There was nothing within the trail or that was heard that made me feel the need to challenge what I had heard or make me listen more attentively to what was being said. We learned who the statue was situated in the middle of Queen Square, walked across Pero’s bridge, looked at the plaque situated on the front of the Shakespeare public house, stood outside Merchants House, saw a few other places and ended at the Redcliffe caves. The Redcliffe caves were said to have stored slaves over night when they came off of the slave ships, it was at this point that I felt something, like I was actually at a place were black people were kept captive, locked up unable to walk freely as I am today. Then to hear that black slaves were never kept in Bristol is a total contradiction to what stories I have been told in my lifetime. I mean no black slaves what do you mean? After speaking with my mum she informed me that slaves were sold on corn street and I know that I’ve been told that before, so now how am I supposed to feel. Why is the truth being hidden, I mean its already happened but why try to deny it.

My feeling towards the myth that black people were not kept captive is anger and annoyance. Why is there a trail about slavery in Bristol then? Going on the walk didn’t help me at all, I don’t feel that I got anything from it and would not go again, for me this chapter is done. It’s about time we made a new trail which shows the rise of black people,  where it all started, who was the first black person to fight for their rights, what did they achieve and continue from there. I am not a slave I am free but my mind is not free from thinking like a slave . When will I decide to take responsibility for o own history? Embracing my African Caribbean ancestry and making it a positive aspect of my life? I believe that only then will I be able to share my awareness with my siblings, nieces and nephews, family and friends.

Click here for a response to this piece from Madge Dresser,  Department of History, University of the West of England, Bristol.