Gullah and Beautiful Charleston

This is Corey. He makes Sweetgrass Baskets.

This is Corey Alston. He makes Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets. He’s from Charleston, South Carolina.

Corey isn’t just a “Basket Guy at the Market”. He has a message. Just like all of us do, or least I hope we all do. It’s the message that we find ourselves telling people; about life, about love, about history, over and over again.

Me, you know what my message is dear and wonderful reader. My message is writing and goals and empowerment and adventure.

Corey’s message is one of enlightenment, education, and healing a painful history.  He sits and he weaves beautiful baskets made of sweetgrass and other materials. These baskets and this way of weaving was passed down in his family from generation to generation. It is an art he teaches his children and they will teach theirs. We are not allowed to learn, however we do benefit from their talent.

As a lover of baskets I stop to admire his while we walk through the Charleston Downtown Market. Immediately I picture no less than 5 places a basket is needed, no imperative, to have in my home.

We strike up a conversation with the man weaving. He weaves the entire time he talks to us. He talks and he weaves. He is young but he tells us his hands ache from arthritis due to the repetitive nature of his work. He sounds proud, and he should be, his baskets are beautiful.

He weaves and he talks.

Gullah… is a language, a secret language used by slaves as code. It is a mixture of English and African. It is not only a language it is a way of life, a people.  Just like Creole and Jamaican Patois.

He talks of the power of words and how we need to learn what these words really mean.

Cracker…a secret warning to others that those who “crack the whips” are coming.

Redneck…white slaves. White slaves were the first slaves. These indentured servants worked outside in the hot southern sun.

Hush Puppies…food made and tossed to the dogs to keep them quiet on the long walk from the kitchen to the main house. The slaves would take forbidden bites as they walked. To disguise this they would throw these left over fried balls of corn meal at the dogs saying, “Hush puppy,” and “Be quiet dog” as they went.  [writers note: hushpuppies are A-mazing]

Corey weaves and he talks. He likes to teach and pass on this message that certain words don’t always mean what we think they mean.

I have been called a “cracker bitch” before and laughed though it was definitely not a joke, I work for a hardworking farmer and I know others who would say “Redneck” with pride, “hush puppies” aren’t just a cute name for a delicious food but now I know describe someone’s survival.

So I buy a basket and as a bonus I get an education, and as an ever cooler bonus I get to use my power of writing to pass on his words.

Corey told us his message, now I tell you, and you may tell another. That’s the way of it, the way we enlighten the world and leave our legacy behind. He made a difference to me.

One more:

Taking someone’s picture…to many it is considered stealing someone’s soul.

This is Corey with my basket. He let me take this picture, I let him keep his soul.

Corey Alston w/ Sweetgrass Basket

What’s your message? Do you have one?

*click on the photos to find Corey and his Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets

For more on Gullah click here