The replacing of slaves’ traditional Israelite names with Western ones served a crucial function which Ben Ammi calls “deracination”: the stripping of the people’s racial nature, both as a group and as individuals. Claiming that a people must be connected to its past via language in order to be true to itself, Ammi understands the removal of traditional names as a deliberate attempt to sever the individuals and the collective from their culture, history, and land: the aim was “to obscure and undermine any possibility that their positive achievements could be attributed to Israel”, so that the identifiers of any achievements made by the slaves pointed back to Europe instead. Even the identifier “negro” was a way of disassociating the people from Israel, a Spanish term which lumped all slaves (Israelites and non-Israelites) into the same mass.
In the culmination of this process, “Everything connected with the color black, no matter whether it was race, religion, or culture was labelled base, backwards and uncivilized”. The acceptance of the title “negro” demonstrates exactly how far the slaves and the Black race were subdued, were spiritually broken as part of their marginalisation, of their removal from the new centre to the outskirts of value and meaning. And this has led to the twentieth century where the so “African Americans are nameless, landless, without a language or culture of their own.”
This deracination and renaming could only work in concert with an effort to conceal the actual proud history and nature of the Israelites. So, Ammi argues, the true history of the people now known as African Americans, their identity as the people Israel of the Hebrew Bible, has been deliberately concealed and distorted: “our history … was altered to conceal our true identity … Being that you are descendants of the biblical Israelites your history is permeating all things effecting your existence in the American captivity.” This loss of connection to the past is then linked with the contemporary plight of African Americans: “Your inability to relate to a definite pre-slavery history is coupled to your inability to end your captivity.” This is linked historically to the Catholic Church’s ban on reading the history of the Israelites, the Old Testament, and their subsequent degradation of it as irrelevant, superseded by the New. The Euro-gentiles have spread a false history, wherein the African has no relation to the Israelite; the people of the Bible and of the covenant were white Europeans not black Africans; and the African is nothing more than a slave. Through this narrative the African was self-alienated, “disconnected from our very soul” and desired to be something else than what they were (i.e., they wished to be white).
Ammi calls this a “genocide of the mind”. And at least some of this is consciously pursued by white society: