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


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.


2 thoughts on “Being Gullah (Geechee) Is A Privilege, Not A Problem

  1. Coastal GA (Sapalo Island / Riceboro, GA decendant) Geechees say hello! University of Chicago grad. Plenty of family members still speak in the dialect. Go on and do little girl!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s