(Georgetown/Charleston, SC) – Statement made by Marilyn Hemingway, founder, and president of the Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce:
“We call for the immediate end of cultural appropriation of the Gullah Geechee language, food and cooking traditions, worship experience and artistic expressions for the financial gain of those who cannot or are unwilling to trace lineage to the enslaved, Black persons who built this country through their blood, sweat, and tears of their free labor in the Sea Islands and coastal, inland areas of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and those forced to migrate from the above listed geographic areas to seek better economic opportunity.
Our labors and traditions continue to be financially exploited and the check is due.Marilyn Hemingway
In 2020, it is a travesty that appropriation of the terms “Gullah” and “Geechee” continues and that fair, financial compensation or representation has not been given to those who provided caregiving, housekeeping, cooking and other assorted service duties in many households and businesses throughout the recognized geographic footprint of the Gullah Geechee community.
Our labors and traditions continue to be financially exploited and the check is due.
We call for our community and those individuals who support and respect our community to take direct action:
- Demand individuals and companies to cease and desist the cultural appropriation of the terms “Gullah,” “Geechee,” and/or “Geechie”.
- Boycott companies without transparent Gullah/African American ownership who are appropriating the terms “Gullah,” “Geechee,” and/or “Geechie” and/or imagery of members of the Gullah community.
- Increase and continue to spend your money in Gullah/Black-owned businesses.
During this time of societal change addressing systemic racism and oppression, it has never been and will continue to not be acceptable to exploit the culture of the Gullah Geechee people who “made a way out of no way.”
For more information regarding the Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce, contact Marilyn Hemingway at 843-318- 8644 or Marilyn@GullahGeecheeChamber.org.