Feudalism in the Commonwealth, by Gary L. Flowers

11/22/2023, 6 p.m.
In 1619, English colonizers brought captured Africans to Virginia on a cargo ship “The White Lion.” The white colonizers also …

In 1619, English colonizers brought captured Africans to Virginia on a cargo ship “The White Lion.” The white colonizers also brought a hierarchical social structure, left over from the days of feudalism in mid-evil England.

In medieval England (emphasis on “evil”), feudalism comprised four levels of economic strata:

The King, The King’s Court (nobles), vassals, and serfs.

Within such a social construct for 404 years the Commonwealth of Virginia — especially in its capital city of Richmond — too few white people, have controlled too much, for too long, at the expense of too many people of color.

Currently, this brand of feudalism in Richmond poisons the population.

The “King” is represented by wealthy white institutions and corporations, individuals and families, self-named “First Families of Virginia” or “FFV.”

The wealth of this upper strata controls who gets what, how much, and when, as it relates to the intersection of economics and politics.

The “King” selects it “Court of Nobles” in the Black community and reward them with financial business and individual contracts, corporate board appointments and patronage (i.e the perception of high social status), private club memberships. The consideration for such economic gifts is compliance to the status quo.

For such Black people, challenging “The King” may cost their social position with the controlling powers and principalities.

Just below the “The King’s Court” are current “vassals” who are the “tenants” of the Court.

As underlings, they execute the King’s will. For example, such competent, but compliant “vassals” may operate nonprofit organizations or charitable institutions that receive “The King’s ransom.”

At the lowest rung of the social ladder in Richmond are poor Black and Brown people who function as “serfs.”

By government statistics, Richmond’s poor (at federal poverty level) is said to be around 27%. However, individuals and families just above federal poverty are nonetheless, poor, which may well elevate the percentage to 40%. Their labor — like serfs of old — is exploited by the “vassals,” under the tutelage of the “King’s Court,” in service to the “King.”

An understanding of feudalism in Richmond helps to explain the recent referendum vote on a proposed privately financed (no tax burden on Richmonders) entertainment complex, including a four-star hotel, 3,000- seat arena, sound/movie stage, and casino by Urban One and Churchill Downs.

Wealthy white people assigned the Black Nobles, operating as the “King’s Court,” along with their underlings, to oppose the referendum, expressly or by the silence, in order to maintain their social status. Meanwhile, the locked out and the left behind poor residents were the biggest losers, with little prospect for meaningful monetary relief in the forseeable future.

At its core, the referendum vote was about race, gender and power. The King prefers compliant Black people who know their place (see The Mis-Education of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson).

Many Black people in Richmond suffer from the “Scared Negro Disease” (see Richmond Free Press, March 2018 and “The Politics of Decorum,” by A. Peter Bailey).

Enter Ms. Cathy Hughes, who was neither compliant or afraid. Ms. Hughes may well be the current incarnation of Mrs. Maggie Walker, in terms of competence, courage, com mitment, compassion, and most of all, cash.

Accordingly, Ms. Hughes threatened the feudalistic order of the once Capital of the Confederacy. For had the project passed, Ms. Hughes would not only have had a seat at the “The King’s” table, she would have become “Queen of Money” in Richmond. “The King” could not have such.

From another historical perspective, Ms. Hughes represent-ed the iconic Harriet Tubman, who famously said, “I could have freed more, if they only knew they were enslaved.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia in many ways is “Ground Zero” for the American Empire, including the good, the bad, and much of the ugly. The problem is “the wealth” is not shared with “the common people.” Virginia still ranks sixth in total wealth, among states in America.

In this case, the feudal plantation prevailed, but the righteous resistance rolls on.

Regrettably, Black people and white people in Richmond are imprisoned in a feudalistic economic and social system.

Ultimately, Richmond must free itself, and value all people’s prosperity, not just “The King.”

As the song says, “Red Yellow, Brown, Black or White, we are ALL precious in God’s sight.”

Gary Flowers is the host of The Gary Flowers Show on WOL Newstalk in Washington, D.C., on Sunday mornings, from 10 – 11 a.m., and in production of a podcast “Primary Sources, With Gary Flowers.”