Since 1996, I have toured various states and countries on the “Save the Sea Islands Tour.” This year in honor of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition‘s two decades celebration, the tour was continued as the “Gullah/Geechee Save the Sea Islands World Tour.” I give thanks for everyone that contributed a dollar or more and to those that sincerely prayed for my safety and the upliftment of the Gullah/Geechee Nation for every leg of every journey that I have taken over these decades.
When I started out doing this work over almost 4 decades ago, no one else used the term “Gullah/Geechee” and now it is a hashtag unto itself. I was led to put the two words together in order to unify my people who had been separated by those that truly sought to destroy our spirits and exploit our abilities in the process. The fortunate reality is that there are people around the world that now know of the existence of #GullahGeechee history, heritage, and culture. However, the unfortunate thing is that due to the saturation of the entertainment and tourist markets with storytelling and misleading representations via museums, replicated sites, non-Gullah/Geechee operated events, tourism agencies, and now even museums that seek to exploit grant money, the work that the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition and the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation are doing has become that much more difficult. These misrepresentations and continued financial exploitation are creating a narrative that is anti-self determination and anti-self-sufficiency and leaves the sharing of Gullah/Geechee history in the hands of those that do not and have never lived the culture and in the hands of the assimilated that wanted no part of it until they could get paid or get a title position on a commission or at an institution.
Meanwhile, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, the Gullah/Geechee Angel Network, Geechee Kunda, Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Committee of Northeast Florida still stand as legitimate Gullah/Geechee organizations that are actually Gullah/Geechee owned, operated, directed, and funded. These groups were founded by native Gullah/Geechees that seek to insure that our history, heritage, cultural traditions, and land ownership are continued. The projects and programs that they sponsor and host are proudly authentically Gullah/Geechee! Tenk GAWD dem chillun kno who webe!
Each one of these groups pay homage to our ancestors by continuing to hold onto the land that their blood, sweat, and tears is within and to continue to teach the next generation how to be self-sustaining on the land and how to spiritually give thanks for it all and in the midst of it all. The work that they do daily is becoming more and more difficult with funds being funneled away from the traditionalists into the coffers of institutions and organizations spearheaded by non-Gullah/Geechees coupled with the numerous land issues including displacement, gentrification, climate change, sea level rise, seismic gun testing, and attempts at oil exploration. However, no matter how difficult the challenge, if our ancestors had the will to survive the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and chattel enslavement, we KNOW we have the will to fight back and leave a legacy of self-determination for our children in the Gullah/Geechee Nation!
While slavery’s indelible mark on the psyches of those that work against self-determination is quite apparent, there are thousands of others that do not seek to compete against us or undo the work. They instead want to collaborate and be part of the efforts to insure that Gullah/Geechee culture remains intact on our homeland from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. They work with the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation via the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank and the aforementioned organizations to improve the quality of life for not only this generation of Gullah/Geechees, but for the generations to come.
I will never be able to individually thank all of the people that have supported me over the decades or even on the Gullah/Geechee Save the Sea Islands World Tour this year. However, I am thankful for social media that allows many of you to communicate your support and to encourage me to continue the journey. Hunnuh chillun mek mi kno sey, mi libbin ain dee een vain! Tenk GAWD fa hunnuh ya!
As this year’s world tour draws to a close and we get prepared for our annual break at the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, I want to leave everyone (whether you are for or against me) with this message that succinctly provides information on how one sustains a nation:
For those of you that contributed to the Gullah/Geechee Land Legacy Fund (https://www.gofundme.com/gullahgeechee-land-legacy-fund) and to the fundraisers to send me to the United Nations and on this global journey, my message from Thailand will only confirm the reason you are a part of Gullah/Geechee sustainability. For all others, I pray that this message will have you rethink things and not just follow or troll us socially, but truly come and work WITH us. “Wok togedda chillun, don cha git wearee” da wha hunnuh see we da do e ain juss wha hunnuh yeddi! So, fa all hunnuh wan da support de #GullahGeechee, GAWD bless hunnuh and tenki tenki! Mi pray fa see hunnuh pun de necks journee fa #GullahGeechee sustainability!
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) has dedicated her life to sustaining the land and cultural traditions of her people. She has coupled her efforts with the global community to combat climate change and sea level rise and to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She continues her journey to keep the Gullah/Geechee legacy alive on the land. Tenk GAWD!