Money > Integrity: No Shame In Steve Harvey’s Game

#SteveHarvey: *has his wronged “sister” #MoNique on his show to interrupt, chastise, & lecture about the value of money over integrity*

Also Steve Harvey: *had disgraced racist (who used n-word & planned slavery themed wedding) on 2 of his shows & buck danced for her, literally*

#dontBSyourself

‘Kisses 4 Christmas’: What Christmas Means To Mama & Me

Whenever I’m asked which song is my favorite of those I’ve written, my usual response is “that’s like asking a parent which of their kids is their favorite” or something to that affect. (Parents do sometimes have favorites btw, but that’s a whole other post.) That said, one of my songs does come to mind when I think of those that are nearest & dearest to me: ‘Kisses 4 Christmas,’ a Christmas soul ballad that I wrote inspired by Mama.

Years ago, I was invited by Millennium Music, a local (Charleston, SC) music retailer, to contribute a song to their annual Christmas compilation album. I was excited & honored to do it, but at the time I didn’t have a Christmas song. (Because I didn’t/don’t exactly celebrate Christmas; yet another “whole other post.”) I could’ve easily cranked out a formulaic ditty right quick & submitted it just for the satisfaction of having a song on the compilation, but artistic integrity wouldn’t allow it.

Then, in search of inspiration, I had a conversation with Mama about what Christmas meant to her… her words flowed through me. I wrote the lyrics in one session. She grew up on a sandy road in a rural Gullah village, a child well-loved but of modest means. As a wife of a hard-working but low-earning brick mason, she was never afforded many of the ‘finer’ (material) things &, though she & Daddy did the best they could to provide, she reminded me that the greatest gift she could ever receive was the one I cherished most from her: Love. That’s what Christmas meant to her & what ‘Kisses 4 Christmas’ means to me: Love.

I hear it in the vocal harmonies, lyrics, soulful rhythm & solo guitar my friend, @leebarbour, laid down… I felt it in my then sweaty palms & racing heartbeat as I sat, shoulders slumped, eyes to the floor, nervously playing it for the first time for Mama, hoping she’d like it. She loved it. I still feel that confirmation tugging at the corners of my mouth, forming a smile right now as I type these words.

I don’t have a favorite song of those that I’ve written, but I do have songs that remind me of some of my favorite moments. ‘Kisses 4 Christmas’ is one such ‘moment’ for me… Selah. Merry Christmas, Mama! ♡ #weoutchea

‘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.

Gullah Geechee NEW YEAR’S Tradition: “From Whence We Came” | Watch Night + Emancipation Day Celebration

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This New Year’s Eve, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission invites you to come together with members of Gullah Geechee communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to participate in a celebration that is over 150 years old: the Watch Night service commemorating the date of January 1, 1863 when enslaved people in the Low Country, the Sea Islands and throughout the United States emerged from bondage as a result of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Though Watch Night has continued to be observed in one form or another in the Corridor, it would appear that its original tie to the Emancipation Proclamation has been largely lost.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

These community events will take place Sunday, December 31, 2017 and/or Monday, January 1, 2018 at churches, community centers and sites such as old rice plantations. The Watch Night services will generally begin late in the evening on December 31, 2017. What you will experience in the hours leading up to midnight will vary based on custom and practice in each Gullah Geechee community but tradition holds that these services usually involve music, the traditional liturgy and contemplation of what has passed followed by reconciliation and resolutions for the coming year.

The Watchmen, elders in the community, will signal when midnight is near. At that time, the community will kneel in prayer to welcome the New Year – and collectively reflect on how on January 1, 1863 the New Year also meant a long-hoped for freedom for millions of African-Americans in the United States. Gullah Geechee people, who have been a part of or have long memories of these traditional celebrations within their communities over the years, will educate others about the traditions, history and significance of what occurred on these days.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

You can find a growing list of participating sites on our website. We ask that you be mindful that these are important community events that involve long-standing, sacred ceremonies. We ask that you respect the churches and our community partners by being mindful of local customs regarding attire and conduct.

You should also seek permission at least a week in advance from the site if you would like to photograph or videotape any part of these events.

QUESTIONS? Contact the Commission at info@gullahgeecheecorridor.org or 843.818.4587.

THANKS

Development of this program was supported by a generous planning grant from South Carolina Humanities.