Geechee Gals Gettin' It - Vol. 1: Erica Alcox
The Gullah Geechee culture is not only rich in history. The gifts our ancestors gave are infinite and inspire us daily but it doesn’t just stop there. No, Gullah Geechee is a living, breathing culture. What we do today continues to shape our community and narrative. From healing work, to activism, music, entrepreneurship, preservation, counseling, parenting, natural hair care and more, Gullah Geechee women continue to “Reach back and get it” and then put their thing down, flip it and reverse it!
Erica Alcox, Geechee Gal
I’m from North Charleston, SC and I’ve been Gullah Geechee aware my whole life. My knowing came from my mother making sure I knew where I came from. She would tell me about where she was born (Cherokee Plantation in Yemassee, SC) and how everyone took care of each other. My grandfather would also tell us stories. To hear him speak guaranteed you would be aware of the culture. I was and still am proud of such a rich heritage. It means being resilient and proud. Embracing that which is unique and embedded in you that no one else can imitate. We are an original and wise people who prosper from our natural abilities as long as we respect those abilities.
I’m passionate about education and achievement. Knowing that my grandmother graduated from high school the year I was born made me understand the importance of learning. Too much has been sacrificed to provide our generation with the luxuries we enjoy with just a click of a button. There is NO excuse for not cultivating our greatness. Being mediocre and shallow in anything we do is blatant disrespect to our ancestors and our elders.
My calling, business, and purpose are all aligned with my passion for education and achievement. I am an educator in unconventional settings where I coach classroom teachers on classroom management and unique strategies for instruction to better serve our youth. I also provide consultations for small businesses looking to fine tune their marketing strategies and streamline their product development. I look at what they have and help them to get more impact for stronger results. I also blog about life in general as a mother, caregiver, and entrepreneur while maintaining my identity as a woman. My experience playing all 4 roles provides me the opportunity to be that motivational speaker who captures your attention and leaves a permanent reminder to disrupt the status quo.
My blog is called “The Okra Soup Truth” where I give the uncomfortable but necessary truth that we tend to run away from– but only helps us to be better. Just like when you first see okra and aren’t too sure you can deal with the slime; you become a fan of it when you taste it in a delicious pot of okra soup. That “slime” gives the pot that flavor!…and yes I can cook!
Traditions are meant to form a foundation for us to build the future, not to keep us stuck. We can respect our roots while we continue to grow the rest of the fruit. It’s our job to continue to educate our children about who we are and to celebrate this heritage in our daily lives. Never be ashamed of our story. This is why I created Geechie Gurl. I didn’t feel like the popular Carolina brands represented me, so I built something that did. Continue to tell our story and honor that story in our daily lives. I tell stories through my blog about today’s events but I also infuse my Lowcountry upbringing in how I say what I say and do what I do.“It’s not just an accent…it’s an ATTITUDE!” That’s my favorite t-shirt in my product line.
My advice for other business owners is to support one another. Today we tend to operate in cliques. Whether we want to admit it or not, that’s what we tend to do. I understand having our select people that we truly vibe with; however, withholding information and opportunities from someone who you’ve witnessed genuinely working towards a goal is a negative reality I’ve witnessed and experienced. This is detrimental to our future as a demographic. It’s ok to be independent. I find, though, that sometimes we confuse that thin line between independence and selfishness. Even though we still have work to do in that department, I can tell we are doing better. I would also say be unapologetic in your approach to your goals. People will label us “angry” when in actuality we are DETERMINED and CONFIDENT. It’s not our job to ask for permission to be great and accepted.