TikTok Creator is busting myths about Gullah Geechee culture with posts racking up hundreds of thousands of views

TikTok sensation Akua Page is educating a new generation of social media users with its viral videos about Gullah Geechee culture, dissolving stereotypes and stigma video by video.

Page, 28, is the creator of the popular TikTok channel Geechee Godddess, and she uses the social media platform to break down stigma and stereotypes about the Gullah Geechee culture and its people.

“The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of West and Central Africans who were stolen and kidnapped and forced to work on plantations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida,” Page said.

Page’s TikTok channel has amassed more than 55,000 followers and her videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. TikTok, most popular with young people, especially Gen Z, asks Page questions ranging from the origins of the Gullah language to hoodoo medicine.

Unlike today’s younger generation with unlimited access to information on their smartphones, Page says growing up introduced her to Gullah Geechee culture and its roots through the popular 1990s children’s sitcom Gullah, Gullah Island.

Gullah, Gullah Island premiered on Nickelodeon in October 1994 and was aimed at young children. Natalie Daise, along with her husband Ron, co-starred in the program, which taught many life lessons and introduced children to the culture of Gullah Geechee through song and dance.

Daise says that more than two decades later, she still understands the impact the show had on young black children, especially those descended from Gullah Geechee.

“All I can say is that it took so many years for us to see the full impact of what we were doing,” Daise said.

Daise says she met Page three years ago and is proud of the work she is doing with TikTok to bring Gullah Geechee culture to a new generation. “I love the work she is doing for a new generation, developing language and culture,” Daise said.

Page launched her TikTok channel to educate her followers about Gullah Geechee culture during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says after years of working as a teaching assistant, using social media to teach black history was a natural fit.

“I was already teaching people about the culture using YouTube and Instagram, so TikTok was the perfect outlet to continue the work I was already doing,” Page said.

One of Page’s biggest fans is Victoria Smalls, who shares Gullah Geechee’s legacy and is executive director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a nonprofit organization on John’s Island, South Carolina.

“There are more Gullah Geechee people in America than just the people of the Gullah Geechee Corridor, through the Great Migration and other types of migration,” Smalls said.

According to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the Gullah Geechee are descendants of Africans who were enslaved, many of them from rice-growing regions of West Africa.

They were brought to the southeastern regions of the United States, particularly North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, to work on the coastal rice, sea island cotton, and indigo plantations. The National Park Service says the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor stretches from as far north as Wilmington, North Carolina on the Atlantic Seaboard to as far south as Jacksonville, Florida.

“The people of Gullah Geechee are here today because their ancestors were enslaved for their expertise in harvesting and processing rice,” Smalls said of the history of the Gullah Geechee’s ancestors.

A 2005 National Geographic report estimated that around 200,000 people of Gullah Geechee descent live in the United States, and Smalls says many of these have spread to all parts of the country.

In Page’s TikTok videos, she shares elements of Gullah Geechee culture, including arts, crafts, food, music, home remedies, and the language, which hasn’t always been celebrated.

“We’re changing the perspective of how people see Gullah Geechee culture, because when you call me Geechee, those used to be fight words, that used to be almost like calling someone the N-word. I’m happy, people know.” there’s no reason to be ashamed of being Gullah Geechee,” Page said.

Smalls says older generations used to shy away from flaunting their Gullah Geechee heritage to avoid being stigmatized.

“Sixty-five and older, these are the people who were taught not to speak Gullah in mainstream society, at work, at school. Gullah was raised by them, either by their parents who wanted a better opportunity for them, didn’t understand that the Gullah language is something worth holding on to and is an actual language,” Smalls said.

“Growing up in Charleston, like I mentioned, I didn’t really connect with my history. At least through the school system, Geechee was something they were trying to make us feel ashamed of,” Page said.

Page says she’s proud that her TikTok channel has evolved the way it has, and she regularly receives positive feedback from people who are curious about Gullah Geechee’s culture.

Going forward, she plans to continue offering Gullah Geechee tours in Charleston, South Carolina, in addition to her channel, highlighting historical landmarks associated with the Gullah Geechee people. She also hopes to continue using her platform to build unity in the black community by offering more historical knowledge and perspectives.

“There were many things that divided us, but just sharing my culture brings unity within the Black diaspora,” Page said.

https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/07/17/were-changing-the-perspective-tiktok-creator-tears-down-myths-on-gullah-geechee-culture/ TikTok Creator is busting myths about Gullah Geechee culture with posts racking up hundreds of thousands of views

Dustin Huang

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