Over the past two decades since the Gullah/Geechee people came together to stand on their human right to self-determination, leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation have stood up against the on-slaught of mechanisms designed to displace them from the Sea Islands and to degrade their culture. Being vocal about the displacement caused by and the use of the word “plantation” on gated areas has caused many of the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation to be shunned and to even be targeted with threats. Yet, they have continued to speak out clearly against the denigrating effect of seeing the word “plantation” on gated areas, especially on Hilton Head Island, SC.
They have spoken about the exploitation and displacement of Gullah/Geechee people due to gated and resort areas. These places take on not only the name plantation on signs, but they are managed based on a hierarchy that mirrors that of the original plantations of the Carolina and Georgia coast. Their management systems are designed so that they can use the expertise and energy of people of African descent to work to build up the wealth of those that own them. The jobs available to Gullah/Geechees in plantations pay minimum wage and rarely will a “native” person rise to the point of being in management or being seen by the millions of tourists that go to these places annually. You would need to go into the kitchen, the housekeeping closet, or spot a landscaper to see a Gullah/Geechee that works in these spaces for the most part. So, over the years, less and less native Gullah/Geechees work on Hilton Head Island, SC, Amelia Island, FL, Kiawah Island, SC, and in the various other gated areas along the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast.
The remaining Gullah/Geechee communities and historic institutions on Hilton Head now have signs denoting them as “Historic Gullah Neighborhood” while the displacement of Gullah/Geechee families continues. The signs are like markers of the continuing demise of the people. These will remain as things such as the Hilton Head runway and Highway 278 continue to expand to bring in those with the mindset that want to go back to the time of the plantation where there is racial and economic inequity and imbalance.
On Juneteenth, Dr. Amir Jamal Toure, inaugural Gullah/Geechee Nation Wisdom Circle Council of Elders member, spoke out on Hilton Head Island, SC against the continued use of the word plantation:
Also, by the 20th Anniversary of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, the mascotification and economic exploitation by Revelry Brewing Company and Gullah Gourmet in Charleston, SC has to come to an end! Revelry Brewing Company and Gullah Gourmet need to immediately cease and desist using the terms “Gullah” or “Geechee” on their products. Revelry Brewing Company and the Gullah Gourmet are NOT Gullah/Geechee owned companies. They are Anglo / white owned companies that are using the name of a living historic Black cultural group that is recognized by international law as their own nation. These white companies are using the name “Gullah” for their own economic gain.
Why is this important?
The leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (http://www.gullahgeecheenation.com/) and its citizens have contacted Revelry Brewing Company and the Gullah Gourmet in the past and called for them to cease and desist the use of the word “Gullah” on their products as a means to economically exploit the name of the descendants of the Africans that had been enslaved on the Sea Islands. These companies that exist in Charleston, SC continue to disrespect the human right to self-determination of the Gullah/Geechee people and continue to use the name “Gullah” for economic gain. In spite of detailed media stories such as this one in the Atlanta Blackstar which clearly outlines that the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor which is a United States government entity focused largely on promoting tourism which is one of the mechanism of displacement of native Gullah/Geechees is came to work with a company that has joined many others in marketing alcohol to the Black community and tourists and how they are using the term “Gullah” as a mascot for their product: https://atlantablackstar.com/2016/12/17/a-community-under-attack-how-the-gullahgeechee-nations-are-fighting-against-culture-vultures-keen-on-destroying-them/ In spite of the public outcry that followed the article, the Revelry Brewing Company has continued to sell beer labeled “Gullah.” In spite of the removal of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben from other companies products, Gullah Gourmet has not stopped exploiting the “Gullah” name either.
The marketing of an alcoholic beverage and food products bearing the name of a proud Black community is unacceptable and immediately must cease! The Gullah/Geechee Nation has stood on its right to self-determination and will not stand by and allow the continued exploitation of their culture to take place once again in Charleston, SC which was the major auction block in North America on which their African ancestors were sold and where their families are still fighting against cultural genocide while others try to cash in on their name. Hunnuh ain dun nun a we and disya ain gwine stand tall tall!
We are calling on people around the world to stand with the citizens of the Gullah/Geechee Nation to stop the mascotification and exploitation of our culture and our name! Please sign and share this petition:
The statue of John C. Calhoun was brought down a few nights ago and then the City of Charleston announced a new commission to discuss racial equity. Racial equity must also include economic equity and the protection of the human rights of the native Gullah/Geechees.
Tenki Tenki fa standin wid we! WEBE Gullah/Geechee Anointed People!