This, is a serious nit I need to pick, more with my Black Fam than white folk (since stealing and distorting our culture often, and even with our help, is the norm — especially these days). But you
guys? You non-boulé
folk who’ve not been compromised? SOME
of you should know, or at least learn better. And the rest of y’all boulé
folk — cut this shit out!
“Come By Ya” (in the Gullah patois of my birth) is in NO WAY a feel-good, folk “camp song” born of some African language (well it wasn’t until white folk chose to steal and rework it that way, that is) — nor is it this JOKE of a touchy-feely, white misappropriation they like to throw around, based on their own white fuckery.
“Come By Ya”
was a F*CKIN’ LAMENT
of the enslaved Black folk of the Georgia and South Carolina Sea Islands. It was a pained
entreaty, a cry for help — TO.WHITE.JESUS
(with whom they’d been deeply indoctrinated) — for spiritual, physical and emotional rescue, from the HORRORS
inflicted upon them by those same Bible-thumpin’, so-called Christian, white folk, who’d brought them to Him
in the first place!
I’m here to tell you Fam — indoctrination soaked in naked terror really works!
I was born and raised in Charleston, SC 66 seasons ago. My family are Gullah people born & raised on Edisto Island, a Sea Island not far from the city proper. My maternal grandmother and grandfather were born in 1908 and 1913 respectively. And from her Black Methodist church, to his Black Baptist church, I learned this old, Negro spiritual at both their knees, led by the oldest member of the congregation — my entire, damned life!
The last time I heard and sang it, was at my younger, first cousin, Rhonda’s funeral in January 2018. Held at my grandfather’s church on the Island (at which Mother Emanuel’s new pastor, Rev. Eric C.S. Manning spoke), it was appropriately, the Benediction selection because at that moment, we were all “singin’, cryin’ and needin’ rescue and relief from the pain her death wrought. I remember thinking to myself, “These damed folk, with no damned knowledge of how we, the descendants of formerly enslaved people lived and believed, had bastardized something that for us, meant a soothing — a Balm in Gilead.”
I’ve long since stopped believing in white Jesus but, I’ll NEVER stop loving those spirituals that, over my lifetime, have always made me feel whole and connected to my people.
As usual though, white folk keep trying to take credit for “discovering it” (like that lost-assed Christopher Columbus) or in fact, writing it. From the Library of Congress (please do click on the player and listen to the 1926 song, sung by Henry Wylie of Darien, GA of McIntosh County) and as you read, notice where this white guy claims he got this from):
Kumbaya: History of an Old Song
I am so sick and damned tired of white folk’s first, appropriation, then misappropriation of something that means the world to me. And worse, I’m equally sick and tired of supposedly “educated” Black folk using “Kumbaya” in the same way! Our stories and voices have long been stolen and used to fit the white gaze, so much so that even Black folk don’t have a damned clue of the origins of the words they speak, let alone their meanings and their history— even though we should! But, as Zora taught, “All my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk.”
Since the days of slavery, White supremacy hates the not-knowing (which is why the MAGA folk always blow their tops when they hear someone speaking a language they don’t know). And while it’s mostly true the slavers erased our languages and forbade us to speak them, they were sh*t out of luck when it came to my Gullah/Geechee people of the Sea Islands of SC and GA. And because they were SOL, we had Harriett Tubman, Denmark Vesey and The Stono Rebellion just to name a few. But they’re hip to it now and, as usual, under the guise of “helping” (that whole “White Savior” thing) they’ve got a plan
to make sure it never happens again. Hell, even Yale’s
got their fingers in the Gullah honeypot!