Part VI: Natural potential
Music can be used as a tool by naturopaths because it apparently has a cumulative effect. Encouraging young patients to cultivate a love of intricate music has the potential to prime them for self actualization. The implication for those seeking to increase their IQ is evident. However, on a much more general every day level, music may be explored to help with mood and arousal, and to help balance depression and anxiety. Abraham Maslow defined the parameters needed to reach the ultimate in an individuals personality. Reasoning through the humanist perspective, all individuals have a positive push of inner-directedness that if unimpeded will move us towards our fullest potential and growth. Music can be a powerful guide in our journey for this self actualization. It can aide in this by giving us the tools to perform at our very best in several cognitive tasks, including spatial reasoning. There is also potential to rebuild the right hemisphere of the brain after the effects of trauma.

Conclusion
Unfortunately, research is severely lacking in research of varying forms of music. It is clear however, that music primes the brain to work harder, work better, increase capacity, regulate mood and arousal, and to perform spatial reasoning and other cognitive tasks. Repetition is key, the more you make use of this phenomenon the more you will get out of it. The earlier in life you begin to utilize this phenomenon the longer it will last and the more you will get out of it. Because the style of Mozart and his contemporaries in a up-tempo, major mode is ideal for performance, it is beneficial to cultivate a love for this style as early in life as possible. However, if that is not the case, more familiar and enjoyable forms of music will have similar or better results as listening to classical music of the like. Learning to play, read, and compose music will further increase your brain’s capacity to perform tasks, and memorize. Though hyper-focusing may have the potential to suppress some of your innate creativity and spatial reasoning abilities. However overall, the costs don’t outweigh the gains, as you will be more likely to be proficient in both hemispheres of the brain, just  not equally. Women and men may not differ nearly as much as would be expected in perceiving emotion in music. Though women did show a significant advancement over men in certain cognitive functions, spatial reasoning was not one of them. Spatial reasoning abilities among men and women are fairly consistent between the sexes when listening to classical music in both a major or minor mode, but music in the major mode (cheerful) has a more positive effect on cognitive tasks. Cultivating a love of music and thinking about it in both a right brain intuitive mode, and a left brain logical mode will help the individual reach their fullest potential.

Referances

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K.N. (1995). Listening to Mozart enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Towards a neurophsiological basis. Neuroscience Letters, 44-47.

Schellenberg, E. Glen. (2005). Music and Cognitive Abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (6), 317-320.

Brandler, S. & Rammsayer, T.H. (2003). Differences in mental abilities between musicians and non-musicians. Psychology of Music, 31(2), 123-138.

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K.N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365.

Sutton, C. J. C. & Lowis, M. J. (2008). The Effect of Musical Mode on Verbal and Spatial Task Performance. Creativity Research Journal, 20 (4), 420-426.

Campbell, D. (2001, 1997). The Mozart Effect. New York: Quill HaperCollins Publishers.

Leeds, J. (2001). The Power of Sound. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Jausovec, N., & Habe, K. (2005). The influence of Mozart’s sonata K. 488 on brain activity during performance of spatial rotation and numerical tasks. Brain Topology, 17, 207–218.

Pert, C. (2000). Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind [CD]. Louisville, Colorado: Sounds True, Inc.

Advertisements

Part III: Style
Music’s benefits are vast. It can adapt mood, adapt positive thinking, strengthen survival skills, and sympathy (Leeds, 2003). These are among the improvements that music can make on peoples lives. All music genres have significant implications for the mind. Dr. Alfred Tomatis’ research on the workings of the inner ear were undoubtedly the precursor for the focus on Mozart’s music and spatial reasoning. Tomatis focused on Mozart’s music namely the violin concertos numbers 3 and 4 as having the strongest ability to positively effect students capacity to focus and concentrate. Music can have a positive or negative effect on spatial performance tasks. Sutton and Lowis found that when music is sad (often minor in composition) it can make the listener sad, and depressed people show impairment in spatial tasks because depression effects the arousal in the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain which is associated with cognitive spatial processing. Overall, the Sutton-Lowis study showed that cheerful music enhances spatial reasoning more than sad music, and that this is because music elicits and emotional response. They also found that the degree to which and emotional response is elicited is similar in both men and women.

In a 1995 experiment done by Rausher, Shaw, and Ky, their work suggested that listening to a piano sonata composed by Mozart lead to increased spatial reasoning performance. They also found that listening to repetitive music does not aide in spatial reasoning. These findings are in correlation with Shaw’s statements, “We suspect that complex music facilitates certain complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities like math and chess. By contrast, simple and repetitive music could have the opposite effect.” Shaw suggests a possibility that banal music or sounds may have and adverse effect on the mind and brain functions. Just as highly intricate music containing complicated melodies and rhythms have a positive effect on he mind’s ability to reason spatially, simple, repetitive, monotonous music may have the opposite effect on the mind’s ability to reason spatially. The latter may actually regress the mind’s ability, if even for short periods of time.

Age Matters

It is found that the impact music has on spatial reasoning only last from 10 to 15 minutes in adults. This is a temporary effect. However, it can have cumulative effects concurrently. Therefore, the more you make use of this phenomenon the more readily and quicker it will manifest. It is also of note, that the younger the individual is when in a musical environment, the longer the effect has been shown to last (Schellenberg, 2005). It is apparent that music has a cumulative effect because the younger the person is when introduced to music the longer potential they have to hold on to the benefits of this phenomenon. Schellenberg noted that the phenomenon looses its longevity the later in life it begins to be implemented. He also said that the more it is used (even later in life) the greater its magnitude for positive results. Though listening is sufficient to prime the brain for a boost in spatial tasks performance, learning to play the music is significant in perpetuating longer lasting effects (Schellenberg, 2005). In a correlative test of 147 children and 150 undergraduate adults, (using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III, or WISC-III and the Wechsler Adult Intelligences Scale-III, or WAIS-III respectively) Schellenberg concluded that the effects of music on cognitive abilities are greater with more exposure to music regularly and can be long lasting.

To musician or to non-musician
Though differences in certain cognitive functions between musicians and non-musicians exist, the differences between the two in terms of spatial reasoning did not favor the musicians according to Brandler and Rammsayer (2003). Researchers were surprised to find this to be the case, but hold their finding as reliable as these results were consistently shown by four Cattell’s Culture Free Intelligence Test, Scale 3 (CFT) subscales. In explanation, that they warn is “a preliminary, highly speculative, possible explanation “, they suggest that perhaps our thinking of relegating music to the right hemisphere (because music stimulates the right brain more than the left brain) of the brain should be revised. It is certain that highly skilled musicians utilize both the right and left brains to carry out their musical lifestyles. However, the memory aspect of their mind may dominate over the reason part. This is indicative of a diverse array of mental abilities in musicians and contrasted by a stronger yet more base mental ability in non-musicians. Therefore, “early extensive musical training” results in a change to the cortical organization. This augments the left brain functions of the musician, while diminishing the innate musical abilities of the right brain.  This is reminiscent of how in Western education, schooling may lead to strengthening the left brain while neglecting the right brain.

Sounds of Sex
Though there were differences between certain cognitive functions between men and women, the differences in spatial reasoning between the two groups was not significant in the Sutton-Lowis experiment. Sutton and Lowis are interested in determining the differences between sexes when they listen to music on both their verbal and spatial reasoning skills. Overall, they tout that music has an ability to increase spatial and verbal reasoning, and their data supports this claim. However, the most significant correlation was found between women and verbal reasoning. Though the other sectors had over all improvement, their amount of improvement were nominal in comparison to the increase found with women in verbal reasoning. Their study is particularly noteworthy because there is a severe lack of research on the differences of how the sexes are effected by music. Sutton and Lowis found that the degree to which an emotional response is elicited is similar in both men and women.

References available in Part VI

Juneteenth, June 19th, is one of my favorite occasions. I look forward to it every year. I keep thinking, maybe next year, Google or Yahoo! will have a special design for their logo to spotlight Juneteenth… One day…

For anyone oblivious to the occasion, it marks the most recognized end to slavery. The story goes thus:

The Emancipation Proclamation (Lincoln) was a law abolishing slavery and freeing ALL slaves in ALL of the United States. It was issued on September 22, 1862, and was supposed to be effective as of January 1, 1863. However, that news (and enforcement) didn’t quite make it to the poor slaves in Galveston, Texas (and other Eastern Texan localities) until June 19, 1865. Yeah… a whole flippin’ 2 and a half years after the law was active. (Those law-breaking, self-righteous, Eastern Texan slave-holders really burn me up!!!) On that day, as the story goes, Union General Granger and troops arrived in Galveston not only to enforce the emancipation of the slaves (I bet they didn’t get 2.5 years of back pay… I know!!… efforts should be dedicated to getting their back pay to their ancestors!! I think there’s a word for that…..) but to also take over possession of Texas. Juneteenth started being celebrated in Galveston the VERY NEXT YEAR. Strawberry pop anyone…….?

It’s interesting that recently the Senate apologized for the first time to United State’s African-American descendants for the atrocities of slavery. (They really need to apologize to Africa for the atrocities of the American Slave trade… what? You think pilfering millions of Africa’s strongest men and women didn’t adversely effect their lives for centuries?) Among the apologizers where Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Sen. Brownback of Kansas.

Oh well, it just a twisted ritual of America. The apology means little to me (it does little except assuage some people’s guilt, and give others ammunition to rationalize deplorable points of view), but I know it means something to some people, and for that, I smile at it.

!!!!!!!!!!HAPPY JUNETEENTH 2009!!!!!!!!!
RBG UP!
UHURU
HOTEP!!!
PEACE

Men and women ARE different, and how we interact with the opposite sex is significant, and depicted about how we view our roles in society. I just had an interesting conversation with two 20-something women* about male/female dynamics in budding relationships. Laney’s been married one year, Mona’s been dating a guy for one month, and me, married for 5 years.

Mona is anxious to know if her relationship has reached exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend status, but isn’t sure about how to find out. She’s considering having a friend ask the guy, in a round-a-bout way. Laney advises to ‘hold off’ and let the guy take the initiative in that respect. Laney finds it best to wait for men to say ‘I love you’ first because ‘men like to do things like that’. She believes woman can be assertive without being dominant, and that not letting the man take the initiative is usurping his dominance. She says women can be assertive by ‘getting what they want’ without having to have a discussion. She has a girlfriend who’s been wanting to say she loves her guy since a few months into their relationship, but has been waiting for 3 years for him to say it first, and therefore doesn’t quite know where their relationship stands. I say, if you are in a relationship (where you desire longevity), ask questions flat out, clearly, and as they arise. I don’t see a place for poor communication and inhibition in a healthy adult relationship. I see finding a back-door way of talking about things with your partner so that he feels more like the ‘direction-setter’ as a form of playing games that everyone should avoid. I am a big believer and appreciator of feminine wiles, but I like to ‘get what I want’ by talking it out.

I’m sure part of my POV comes from my distaste for men who shy away from assertive women. Is being ‘too domineering’ a concern that women in fledgling relationships ?All men are different, as are situations and relationships. Most would agree that there are times when the woman should say ‘I love you’ first and such. But the true question is: Is there ANY circumstance where a woman who questions the status of her relationship should wait for the man to establish it before asking questions? Is she gonna ‘run off’ the potential love of her life? Should you ever stay silent from your partner when you have questions? Should you play ‘harmless’ covert games to find out what you need to know?

I feel like NOT asking questions as they arise is putting your life on hold. If he wants to be exclusive and so do you, fine; but if he doesn’t, and you don’t find out, then you are going to turn down other dating opportunities. How’s that fair?

*Names have been changed to protect Mai

ProgressiveU: http://www.progressiveu.org/blog/mai

Gaia: http://markmaiwords.gaia.com/blog

Hood Doctors: http://thehooddoctors.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=3ld643w6vk6z9

Blogger: http://mrsmai.blogspot.com/

Yikes, touchy subject right? This issue is on the minds of millions. But this is essentially the response that Miss America first runner-up California’s Carrie Prejean gave last night on the Miss America Pageant contest. Infamous online celebrity gossiper, and totally gay dude Perez Hilton asked Prejean the tough question. (I felt sorry for the girl when she got it. I mean Miss Arizona had to answer a question about how she got her childhood nickname- lame.) Hilton was obviously not excited by her answer. Though it was neck in neck all night between the top two, Miss North Carolina’s Kristen Dalton (gorgeous blue gown btw) won the title. So did that question cause the title for California? And would that be ‘just’?

Its funny that Prejean is from California because I tend to think of Cali as a liberal, (somewhat hedonistic), live and let live, anything goes sort of atmosphere, though of course you get all types everywhere… (I mean I don’t think fiery Miss Utah was Mormon but I don’t know…)

There is never going to be a time where everyone in the country supports marriage equality. There’s never going to be a time where we all agree on everything. Keeping that in mind, should Perez Hilton ‘hold that against’ Prejean? Can a Miss America who doesn’t support marriage equality accurately represent this increasingly diverse nation?

I too was brought up with a religious background that doesn’t support gay lifestyle. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, I dont think most people are. However, I was also brought up not to pass judgement on people. You can still like people and recognize that people are good people without agreeing with everything they do, basically. I also happen to be pretty liberal. And I think that politics and laws are not currently governed by religious morals (beautiful wicked world)…. so therefore, its not just (by law/politics/etc) to have unequal marriage rights, en mon avis…

I say all that to say, thought I dont agree with Prejean ‘per se’ it had to be pretty difficult for her to answer Hilton as she did. And there’s a lot to be said for standing your ground. I’m proud of that in her, and I’d like to be proud of Miss America.

“Synecdoche, New York” is an intriguing, thought-provoking drama about_______________________________________. (fill in the blank)

I’m formulating my ideas and processing my feelings about this work, and have chosen to do so before I research any reviews or analysis so that I can keep my thoughts as pure as possible. But artist and cultural activist Erykah Badu’s lyrics come to mind, “What good do your words do, if they can’t understand you?” Can art be too abstract for its own good?

This film reminded me of a well thought out play. It’s no secret that plays are generally thought to have more depth than movies. I believe this is because (among many things*) the generally short time span plays encompass as opposed to films, and therefore the audience in invited to experience the entire world of the piece infinitely more than with cinema. However, this film spans nearly 2 decades (I think). I still felt like I was watching Angles in America by Tony Kushner or perhaps In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks. That delightful heavy feeling you experience with a show like that, was felt while watching this film. I was so impressed.

Generally, plays tend to lean towards the abstract more than films. Synecdoche, New York was definitely abstract. In this work we follow a theatre director named Caden though several romantic and familial relationships as he attempts to understand himself, a goal he never achieves (or perhaps only slightly achieves by having his life completely manipulated by a theatre director playing himself). He is awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Award”) and plans to create a huge production to tout his skills. He sets his pseudo-performance art style play in a warehouse and has a cast as large as the community of people he surrounds himself with. Let’s just say its a MASSIVE production. The play is never fully mounted (I think).

It’s not an easy film to describe. I recommend everyone see this thought-provoking film. What did I take away? A reinforced idea that life is obscure, and the relationships within are based on an innumerable amount of absurd details.  That happen to be fascinating because of what they may suggest about one another. (Why where the psychiatrist’s shoes so damaging to her feet and why did she ignore it? Why was Hazel’s house always on fire?) I also remember that life is not about the individual. Keeping this in mind should put ego, paranoia, anxiety, and selfishness in perspective.

It seemed that Caden (was he ever really sick? and was there anything significant about Olive’s green poop at the film’s start?) was unable to overcome the stress with directing his own life, though he was astute in directing actors. Eventually, an actor, playing Caden as a theatre director had to direct him in his everyday life until his death. Or had he become just another actor in the play?

This film will leave you with plenty of questions.

Footnote:
* films make more money and have the luxury of being as trivial as they want because they have a larger audience

I’ve never subscribed to ANY political party. But if I were to, the Republican party would not be high up on mai list. I don’t identify with their general sensibilities or views of society and economic hierarchy. However, I greatly appreciate what Sarah Palin has done (vastly inadvertent) for women in politics. Thank you Sarah.

Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, George W. Bush, George Washington, the list goes on and on for men in politics with reprehensible behavior. Men in politics represent the noble, the greedy, the detestable, and the (nearly) righteous. Truly the spectrum of men in politics is wider than women. Therefore, men are seen as multi-dimensional figures. Of course some of them are bad, of course some of them are ugly, of course some of them will make mistakes, and make bad choices, and force the country into turmoil. Because even though that is part of their character’s capacity, so is the other extreme for doing good.

Women in politics aren’t seen the same way to the same extent. Our most notable women are Clinton, Pelosi, Chisholm, and Rice. Lesser known politicians are Maxine Waters and C. Delores Tucker. But for the most part (nothing is total of course), women in the history of politics have been respectable do-gooders. This is a nice legacy to uphold. But I am constantly defending Palin. Not because I agree with her book banning, wolf aerial hunting, victims pay for forensic rape kits, charging Alaskan tax-payers to foot the bill for her daughters to see the world, pulling strings to get her in-laws unjustly hired and fired antics. But because she is one more woman sculpting the national, political view. One more woman to crack a ceiling. One more woman to add to the face of women in politics. She has shaped an idea of what women can be in American politics, at this point, for good or bad isn’t that important.

Though I’m SURE I will never subscribe to any political party in my life (save, perhaps the Nunya Party*) I have to give Palin her props, just for existing. I ‘love’ her ideology even less than I ‘love’ the Constitution (Problem with that? There isn’t a dayum thing you can do about it, I’m not going anywhere, and frankly its none of your business). It’s none of your business how a person votes AND if they choose to vote or abstain from voting one and all. But I defiantly hope Palin’s accomplishment is not as forgotten as those of Geraldine Ferraro.

*http://www.progressiveu.org/blog/51282-nunya-party

I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but if I see one more image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the misty, air-brushed, reminiscent background of a Photoshopped Barack Obama image as the “Dream” depiction I will scream.

[Oh there’s one.]

“AHHHHHHHHH…”

What the hell people? At what point in the “I Have a Dream” speech did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say anything about his dream or the dream being to have a Black president? Was it implied? Maybe, but the dream is specifically about achieving equality and if you think that President Obama automatically garnered equality for people of color in America you are turning a blind eye and deceiving yourself. WAKE UP!!! and notice I said people of color, Dr. King speaks of equality for all, does that mean if we had a Latino or Asian president that these images would still surface, I don’t know but I hope that’s not seen as unrelated.

I didn’t want to say anything because I think of people like my mother, father, my aunts and uncles. Who marched and protested with King. Those people who cry out of happiness for Obama’s win (I’m happy but I never cried!). Because they never dreamed they would see an African American President in their lifetime.

I love what Dr. King did, and I love what Barack did and is doing*, but these images are really agitating me. They marginalize both men and more importantly, they marginalize The Struggle. Just the notion that we are done or have even reached the Promised Land is utterly false. When I see this depiction I feel cheated, I feel like we are resting and being lazy America.

It is apparent that society still needs to reach for Dr. King’s dream of equality when we have Latino-Americans (or even Latinos for that matter) in our country being murdered for just that, being brown (Ecuadoran Marcello Lucero to name one). Or when you hear (as I have heard from friend, foe, and family) that Latino’s are “overrunning” America with their numbers. RACISM! INFURIATING!!! Why are people so concerned with their numbers? Some Black Americans have dismay when the speak of the growing number of Latinos in America. Some worry the census is inaccurately portraying the numbers of each ethnic group. The reason why this is an issue is because White America is somehow seen (and this is actually put into practice) as entitled to more of a voice and representation in this country because they supposedly make up the majority. WHY?

In high school I can remember debating the validity of the existence of affirmative action and Black History Month. In the case of Black History Month some actually argued that we should not celebrate it in protest it marginalizing Black history**. How stupid! I haven’t encountered anyone in a long time that has tried to support this argument, but my gut makes me think they are still out there. After all, I am not the only one that has encountered people who think like this. (My predominantly white, conservative, affluent, township school in Indiana refused to even make mention of Black History Month on the morning announcements. When I asked them to do so, they refused. When I asked why, they said it wasn’t necessary. Haters.) Even still, why would I give up the little bit of acknowledgment that Black History month affords because in truth MORE is warranted? I wouldn’t. That’s not even logical (there’s an adage about baby and bathwater that fits well). If I want a slice of pie, but I can only manage to take a forkful of it on Monday, I take a forkful, then on Tuesday I try to take another forkful, however thwarted I am or how much obstacle is in the way of me and my pie, I still got a forkful and that’s one less forkful I need to attain to get my whole slice. You have to chip away at prejudice, and racism, and sexism, and classism, and inequality. Chip chip chip, its an elephant and you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Mai President is Black [* why I “love” OB]

So far, so good. I am thrilled that President Obama will be keeping his Blackberry. This device has often be uncouthly referred to as the Crackberry (implications are obvious). As a lover of gadgets, I’m thrilled to think of the president as a tech savvy, PDA toting, genius. Bravo for shutting down Guantanimo bay in a year. This sends an anti-bully image to others around the world.

First sitting Prez to have a Blackberry, down with Gitmo (recently Iraqi prisoners were handed over to Iraqi officials), not wearing his suit jacket in the oval office, “there are white people, and then there are motherfuckers like you”- OB on confronting racism in his Hawaiian youth, his acceptance of non-believers, the list goes on and one, – Fox News is right, OB is radical, the best, grassroots, up from down, kind of radial anyone could hope to be 🙂

**(No doubt Black History Month is underplayed, however many don’t even know there is a national Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15- October15.)

(My President is Black is an allusion to a Young Jeezy song, if you haven’t hear/read it Google/Youtube it.)

“Black History is Everyone’s History. Enjoy… Uhuru! Hotep!” – mrs.Mai

African-American identities have been perpetually based on lies since the first captive was brought to the Americas. There is no evidence that supports there was ever a class delineation or hostility among household and field slaves, yet this plot has grown to iconic proportions in the Black community even influencing the modern African-American communal identity. The conniving household slave is a myth supported by peer pressure, media popularity, fraudulent, suspect text, and leader endorsement.

There is a constant fear of being seen as a person who oppresses and subjugates your own. The impact and peer pressure evoked by the notion of classism among Blacks is strong. No one wants to be an “Uncle Tom”, or the morally cannibalistic “Sell Out” devouring those like you to get ahead. The household slave and field slave myth even suggest that some people are born to be lapdogs of society, moved and manipulated to do their bidding, for lack of character strength, and common sense.

While I have yet to find any slave narrative support the idea of slave class delineations, they often reference differences among the various labour sects. Most household slaves were female and their jobs were strenuous. They may have kept the longest hours, rising before everyone often beginning their day by milking a dozen cows or more in the dark of the morning. Then resting after everyone at night once preparation and service of dinner and other duties were done. However, it is historically noted that field slaves had the more backbreaking work of the two. In his slave narrative, fugitive slave James Curry notes that not all slaves were “driven” like the field slaves.
“My mother’s labor was very hard. She would go to the house in the morning, take her pail upon her head, and go away to the cow-pen, and milk fourteen cows. She then put on the bread for the family breakfast, and got the cream ready for churning… After I was sixteen, I was put into the field to work in the spring and summer, and in the autumn and winter, I worked in the hatter’s shop with my uncle. We raised on the plantation, principally, tobacco, some cotton, and some grain. We commenced work as soon as we could see in the morning, and worked from that time until 12 o’clock before breakfast, and then until dark, when we had our dinner, and hastened to our night-work for ourselves. We were not driven as field slaves generally are, and yet when I hear people here say they work as hard as the slaves, I can tell them from experience, they know nothing about it.”

In her slave narrative The History of Mary Prince, Prince paints a much more all inclusive work load, where she is demanded to do both household work and field work. This takes place directly after her relatively kind mistress has died, she’s been sold from her mother, and separated from her sister.
“The next morning my mistress set about instructing me in my tasks. She taught me to do all sorts of household work; to wash and bake, pick cotton and wool, and wash floors, and cook. And she taught me (how can I ever forget it!) more things than these; she caused me to know the exact difference between the smart of the rope, the car-whip, and the cow-skin… She was a fearful woman, and a savage mistress to her slaves.”

The household and field slave myth is historically accepted, though not historically noted. This is not to say that there was not conflict and even deception among the slaves. In The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano, he recounts a time when an elderly slave woman told on him for accidently killing a chicken while he was helping her cook.
“…I happened to toss a small pebble at one of them, which hit it on the middle, and directly killed it. The old slave having soon after missed the chicken, inquired after it; and on my relating the accident (for I told her the truth, because my mother would never suffer me to tell a lie) she flew into a violent passion, threatened that I should suffer for it; and my master being out, she immediately went and told her mistress what I had done. This alarmed me very much, and I expected and instant flogging.”
Equiano goes on to say that he hid in fear all day, expecting to be found and punished, but when he went undiscovered for the better part of the day, everyone assumed he had fled as a runaway. The next morning he is discovered by the elder slave woman and she conspires to help save him from grave punishment.
“She was very much surprised to see me, and could scarcely believe her own eyes. She now promised to intercede for me, and went for her master, who soon after came, and, having slightly reprimanded me, ordered me to be taken care of, and not ill treated.”
In this case, there was no backstabbing because the old lady was a house servant and he was not. They were both working on the same task, she became angry and impetuous, and later helped save him from certain whipping.

Stories of household slaves betraying field slaves inundate media, books, radios, talk shows, songs, and movies. However, there is little to no evidence of these animosities ever taking place. The atrocities of slavery are horrendous, but no where in the narratives of Prince, Curry, or Frederick Douglass are there any account of scheming spies, working in the house, plotting against the others. This household slave Sell Out character does not exist in their time, but modern people believe this sniveling traitor did. The modern Black community has become an instigator in a fight that never took place. How unfortunate for the image of the household slave!

These myths are long-standing. We have black and white footage of formidable leaders, such as Malcolm X, educating and preaching to the masses about the strife between household and field slaves. Warning those in the audience to not act like the household slave, the eager subject of the master.

One of several speeches in Malcolm X Speaks is entitled The House Negro And the Field Negro. Malcolm X begins his speech talking about the federal governments lack of protection for the millions of Blacks in America against such forces as the Ku Klux Klan and the police. Then he goes on to speak about this notion that there has always been two types of Black people in America: The House Negro And the Field Negro.
“Back during slavery, when Black people like me talked to the slaves, they didn’t kill ‘em, they sent some old house Negro along behind him to undo what he said. You have to read the history of slavery to understand this.
There were two kinds of Negroes. There was that old house Negro and the field Negro. And the house Negro always looked out for his master. When the field Negro got too much out of line, he held them back in check. He put ‘em back on the plantation.
The house Negro could afford to do that because he lived better than the field Negro. He ate better, he dressed better, and he lived in a better house. He lived right up next to his master-in the attic or the basement. He ate the same food his master ate and wore his same clothes. And he could talk just like his master-good diction. And he loved his master more than his master loved himself. That’s why he didn’t want his master hurt.
If the master got sick, he’d say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” When the master’s house caught afire, he’d try and put the fire out. He didn’t want his master’s house burned. He never wanted his master’s property threatened. And he was more defensive of it than the master was. That was the house Negro.
But then you had some field Negroes, who lived in huts, had nothing to lose. They wore the worst kind of clothes. They ate the worst food. And they caught hell. They felt the sting of the lash. They hated their master. Oh yes, they did.
If the master got sick, they’d pray that the master died. If the master’d house caught afire, they’d pray for a strong wind to come along. This was the difference between the two.
And today you still have house Negroes and field Negroes. I’m a field Negro. If I can’t live in the house as a human being, I’m praying for a wind to come along. If the master won’t treat me right and he’s sick, I’ll tell the doctor to go in the other direction. But if all of us are going to live as human beings, as brothers, then I’m for a society of human beings that can practice brotherhood.”

The Willie Lynch Letter is a speech purportedly given by William Lynch on the James River in Virginia in 1712 about how to control slaves in a colony. His advice in large part was to pit slaves against each other based on their differences to squash any unity among them and make them weak in the mind while preserving the body for slave labor. Supposedly, the inferiority was going to be felt psychologically by the slaves and their offspring for more than three hundred years.
“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 Willie Lynch Letter supports the notion that slaves were divided into two groups who fought based on differences of class and complexion. There were more than two labour forces of slaves. Besides house and field, what about the welders, the blacksmiths, the hired out slaves, the breeding slaves, and the slaves used as messengers?

The Willie Lynch Letter first appeared on the internet in 1993 after publication in The St. Louis Black Pages a University of Missouri reference librarian posted the text on the library’s server with the warning that its’ origins were not clear. William Jelani Cobb, Ph.D., historian and associate professor of History at Spelman College specializing in post-Civil War African American history, believes the letter is an internet hoax. There has been debate over this though many believe it does not matter if the text is fake or not because the tactics described were certainly used by slave owners to assert more power and manipulate slaves.

Even though the Willie Lynch Letter is absolutely fraudulent, in the 2007 movie The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington’s character Melvin B. Tolson, real life Speech and English professor of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas in the 1920s and 1930s, references the Willie Lynch Letter in 1935.
“Anybody know who Willie Lynch was? Anybody? Raise your hand. He was a vicious slave owner in the West Indies. The slave masters in the colony of Virginia were having trouble controlling their slaves so they sent for Mr. Lynch to teach them his methods. Keep the slave physically strong but psychologically weak and dependent on the slave master. Keep the body, take the mind.”

Why is there no objection? What does this mean for Black youth that grow up with no indication that this is all myth and fallacy? Will they live up to low expectations of themselves? What does this mean for Black elders that may in fact be crippling children, and therefore stumbling the community’s hopes for future advancements? Where does a myth like this come from?

While slave narratives lack accounts of field and household slave strife, they are full of accounts of slaves helping each other get by. Through them it is also apparent how the slave owners knew very little about their slaves true feelings and intentions. Mary Prince said, “Oh the Buckra [white] people who keep slaves think that black people are like cattle, without natural affection. But my heart tells me it is far otherwise.” Frederick Douglass’ narrative tells us that slaves would often claim to have a kind master and to being contented with their lives.
“…when inquired of as to their [slaves] condition and the character of their masters, almost universally say they are contented, and that their masters are kind…a still tongue makes a wise head. They suppress the truth rather than take the consequences of telling it… If they have anything to say of their masters, it is generally in their masters’ favor, especially when speaking to an untried man.”

Mary Prince’s recount is full of affection between slaves. Time and time they are helping each other survive and get by. Hetty the slave woman who looks after Mary, and whom she refers to as her Aunt, and the kind Black man Anthony and his wife who feed her on her four week long journey to Turk’s Island, to name a few. She also has tales of confrontation among Blacks. In one case, a bi-racial freedwoman named Martha Wilcox was very unkind to the slaves no matter there labor position.
“Mrs. Wood…hired a mulatto woman to nurse the child; but she was such a fine lady she wanted to be mistress over me. I thought it very hard for a coloured woman to have rule over me because I was a slave and she was free… she was a saucy woman, very saucy; and she went and complained of me, without cause, to my mistress, and made her angry with me… The mulatto woman was rejoiced to have power to keep me down. She was constantly making mischief; there was no living for the slaves- no peace after she came.”
At another time, a slave who had long doled out harshness to other slaves, is very remorseful for the deeds his master has made him do.
“The husband of the woman I went with was a black driver. His name was Henry. He confessed that he had treated the slaves very cruelly; but said that he was compelled to obey the orders of his master. He prayed them all to forgive him, and he prayed that God would forgive him. He said it was a horrid thing for a ranger to have sometimes to beat his own wife or sister; but he must do so if ordered by his master. I felt sorry for my sins also. I cried the whole night…”

History has failed to act as a guide for the present. These myths have become a poor substitute to fill in the blanks on an otherwise scattered history. The Black community clings to these myths because we do not have a solid foundation for our history. We are always seeking our true selfs and our true origins, constantly trying to figure out why this could have possibly happened to us, where we have come from, and where we are going. So much power, influence, manipulation, and contention is wielded by myths. Fights have been waged over accusations of being a Sell Out. The notion that we will always be divided comes from the notion that we have always been divided. If we can attribute some of this to descention between us it may give us a semblance of an answer.