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#weoutchea #gullah #geechee #harvard #dontBSyourself

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‘Harvard’ Goals… Breathe

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To those who’ve messaged me that my story inspired you or a loved one of yours to apply to @harvard, I am humbled by you and happy for you.

That said, I hope whatever sliver of inspiration I can offer isn’t relegated to Harvard-related goals alone. Your proverbial ‘Harvard’ mayn’t be here… your ‘Harvard’ may be that job you need, conquering an affliction, the inner-peace you seek, certification at your craft, health (be it physical or mental), to pin a demon(s) you wrestle daily, to be forgiven, to be accepted (as is), to pass the bar or simply bake the perfect soufflé.

Quiet as kept, not even my ‘Harvard’ is Harvard. Whenever I make Mama laugh, her laughter echoes through my lungs & I breathe pure joy. When Daddy says “love you, son,” I feel… completed… in a way that I could never find in the halls of Harvard. Yet, it comes full circle when I see the pride of me teaching at Harvard beaming on Mama & Daddy’s faces.

That is my ‘Harvard’… the one that will stay with me, even if I don’t stay here. Whatever yours may be & if anything I do or say helps you get there, my advice to you: breathe. Now, let’s git it! #weoutchea #gullah #geechee #harvard #harvardgoals #♡

TSA Asked Me If I ‘Earned’ My Harvard Beanie… and Instantly Regretted It

TSA: *takes my boarding pass, sees my Harvard knitted cap, gives backhanded compliment* “Nice hat, young man… did you earn it?”

Me: “Oh, nah, I bought it…” 😐

TSA: “Hmpf…” 😏

Me: “…with my Harvard paycheck… I teach there… two languages, six sections.” 😐

TSA: “Hmm…” 🤔 *sees my Harvard ID as I show my driver’s license* “Oh…” 😳

Me: 😐

TSA: “Wow, cool… nice… good for you.” 😁

Me: 😐

TSA: “Well, you’re all set. Have a Happy…”

Me: *ghost*

 — at Boston Logan International Airport.

Being Gullah (Geechee) Is A Privilege, Not A Problem

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Charleston fam told me his daughter’s teacher requested a meeting to discuss her “speech impediment” &/or possible “learning disability” due to her “inability to get her words right.” They suggested she might require “special attention” to “correct the problem.”

Baffled by the teacher’s note, but still deeply concerned, he & his wife met w/ the teacher, who had their #daughter read a list of words aloud for purpose of demonstrating the “problem.”

To their surprise, anger, hurt… what the teacher percieved as their daughter having a “speech impediment” was actually just her Gullah (Geechee) dialect(!). That’s right, a native Black girl attending school in Charleston county, prominent locale of Gullah culture, was thought to be speech impeded due to her “thick” Geechee dialect (that’s native to the region).

In his own “thick” Geechee dialect, fam went off on the teacher, making it clear that there was nothing wrong w/ his daughter’s speech. What was wrong was the teacher’s ignorance of Gullah/Geechee language/culture & attempted whitewashing of a little Black girl. Something most Gullah/Geechee people, myself included, experience(d) in school.

He then told me that he showed his daughter an article about me teaching Gullah at Harvard University’s African Language Program, telling her that if Harvard saw fit to have her language taught as a course in its class, it’s unfit & unacceptable a Charleston school to suppress its use in class. She was elated!

No, we (Gullah Geechee people) don’t need “outside” validation to be valuable. Harvard offering a Gullah course wasn’t the basis of his daughter’s elation. A fellow Gullah native (me) teaching her “problem” at such a highly regarded institution for them only affirmed what they/we already knew, to be Gullah/Geechee’s not a problem, it’s a privilege. #weoutchea #Gullah #Geechee #life #Chucktown #roots #education #storytelling #heritage #gullahgeechee #blackexcellence #BlackGirlMagic #BlackLifeUSA

P.S. Charleston county school district is attempting to make strides on their (not our) “problem” by having a native Gullah academic instruct teachers to better recognize Gullah/Geechee in classrooms.