What is Geechy?

I recall my mother using the word geechy when I was younger. Based on context clues I always assumed that geechy meant bright skinned girls with long hair. Especially when my mother used the word in sentences such as “Your brother always did like those geechy girls.” While reading one of my articles from my Ethnography of Narrative course, someone used Geechy in a way that I hadn’t considered. So I chuckled to myself wondering . . . what does geechy really mean? You know I had to look it up online! Of course there’s the Gullah definition, but that would be geechie or geechee, not geechy (as so noted). So, what exactly did my mother mean when she used the word?

According to the Urban Dictionary (no, I didn’t consult Webster or Wiki for this one), Geechy means:

A person that is country/Southern to an extreme. Typically a very country person of African-American decent from the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama areas but they can dwell in other states as well.

Trick Daddy
I’m a ol’ sneaky, ol’ freaky, ol’ geechy-ass nigga
Collard green, neckbone-eatin-ass nigga
Always wearin my jeans baggy saggy
You know Florida, Georgia, South Cakalaky

Funny that they used Trick Daddy as a reference, huh? I guess if you have an urban dictionary, you should be required to use urban references.

Do you agree with this definition? If so (or if not), you can click the Urban Dictionary link and give it a thumbs up or down. As of today, 57 people agree and 37 people don’t. People are so difficult to please.

I conclude this post with Cab Calloway’s “Geechy Joe” (1941).

33 thoughts on “What is Geechy?

  1. LOL…my people are geechy. My mom used to point out specifically that it was my dad’s side of the family (originally from Georgia) that was geechy (“country talkin’, rice eatin’ geechies”). Alrighty, mom!

    As a kid, I thought it had to do with coming from a certain part of Georgia.

  2. My family is of Geechie orgin and we have always kind of sorta worn that distinction with pride. Being raised on the coast of Georgia I’ve always been told that my Geechie heritage is something I should be pround of not just because I’m from the region. No not just because I eat fried fiss, grits and hush puppies and stewed okra & tomatos, corn over rice. Nope my grandmother always pointed out the gap, the gap a lot of Geechies have are their birth mark. This is representative of the region of Africa my people come from and it took the people with the gap to bridge the gap between English dialect and African dialect to preserve our African traditions…She also pointed out just because you talk fast and people can’t keep up doesn’t mean you are stupid…No sir that’s a sign of advance intelligents…the type needed to bridge gaps…

  3. The Geechie side of my family is from Charleston, SC. When I was younger my mother’s side of the family teased my sister and I for our accents and eating rice every meal of the day. My accent is not as prevelant since I have been grown and in the corporate world. However, that culture is one that I embrace, hold on to and teach to my child.

  4. I have always had a gap. I was told that it was there because the person lied alot. At that time, it was not as wide. So I made it a point not to lie alot. However, the older I get, the wider the gap gets. I guess I must be lying too much huh? I want to know the origin of the gap teeth.

    • Me too because I definitely have one and love it. It is who I am. I have amily that got their gaps close. I embrace mine because it represent a family trair trait which I am proud of belonging too.

  5. I’ve heard many things about “geechy” people. One older lady at work said that she was told long ago that it was a black man with a long neck that loved to eat rice. Growing up in the south and hearing how relatives, and other people used it, I always assumed that it meant a very country black person who was into casting roots (voodoo).

  6. My mother always called me a geechy. I always thought it means a person that likes rice a lot, since I did as a child. But I am glad to see so many other meanings.

  7. gullah/geechie simple means your a black indian. back after the seminoles war the u.s goverment force the black indians back into slavery. after a time the white people of states like Georgia, started calling them geechie

  8. Gullah/Geechie actually does not mean Black Indian. It is an ethnic group on the coast of the Carolinas and Georgia. Their roots can be traced to West Africa, some specifically Seirra Leone (through linguistics). They have managed to retain some cultural aspects from the region they originally come from. Since they lived on the coast instead of the mainland, they were able to retain cultural practices called Africanisms. Generally, some people may use it to describe Southern Black people in general, but that is not what Gullah/Geechie actually means. They are a valid ethnic group within African Americans. I’m from Georgia and everyone is not referred to as Geechie because it is a distinct ethnic group. For more information see the documentary The Language You Cry In.

  9. Look closly at the Racial make up of Muhammad Ali Sugar ray lenord and his first wife, Joe Louis,Sugar Ray Robinson you are looking at perfect example of a Geechi !It,s a black and cherokee mix of those indians ran of and hid with the choctaw and chicasaw of missippi and Alabama Gorgia ALAGIA Surup!Alaga! The very word Chi means Chinese for southern white thought us mixed Chinamen so did the Chinese! Oh yes Tommy Hearns made big mistake in his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard did not understand Indian blooded Geechi great capacity to deal with pain physical or mental and their great reserves of strenth you will see it in Ali or Joe Or the first Ray Robinson Who is the greater of all! if you ever meet some white cherokee just mention The trail of tears and you,ll get instant Acceptance May Alla and the Budda Bless You !

  10. a geechie is a person of both black american and white ancestry (french). usually very light ( somewhat like Beyonce’s mom.) My family is both from Shreveport and New Orleans Louisiana. This is what I have been told so many times in reference to people who fit this description. it is quite interesting…

  11. lol we are country and i love to eat rice ! I always heard my grandma talkin bout geechie people and i was like i never herd of it. when i looked it up it was the same as being creole (french/black)

  12. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this. It is not a lot of what has been said above as people may think….though there is a strong reason why people believe Geechie people enjoy eating rice (read the article to find out more). I do know that these people were the first African slaves to receive their freedom shortly after the Civil War.

    Interestingly, the only people I know who claim to be of Geechie/Geechy/Geechee heritage have beautiful, very dark complexions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah

  13. I grew up in Charleston, S.C., and was always told Gullah is the dialect and Geechie is the person. I always love to listen to the people, especially on the islands, speak Gullah. I miss that about not living there anymore.

  14. I confess, I am one. Growing up, I really didn’t know what it meant and figured it was derogative. I have and am researching the term and find that it isn’t negative, it about the region where I was born. I have rec’ed compliments that I look as though I am from the West Indes. When I reply that I am from SC, th word geechie usually comes up in conversation. When I was young, my family moved away from SC. I remember having great difficulty understanding my Grandparents speech pattern (they spoke really fast, I was unable to recognize alot of words and found it difficult to follow the conversation)..

  15. i am also descendnt of geechie or gullah. my family is very mixed bieng there is a lot of french,spanish and african. I was told that my great grandfather had the most beautifuld ark skin and curly black hair. My grandmother had strong native american features and we all have slanted eyes. however my one of my grand grandparents is also from Ponchatoula Louisiana my conclusion is we are creole and Geechi mixed being as our complexions range from very light like cafe au late to me mocha brown. which is bery beautiful.

  16. Geechie’s are primarily from SC but they span out through the south they are the gullah people who were hand picked as slaves from a certain part of africa for there rice farming abilities

  17. Geechy – seems to have a collective of meanings. However from my growing up in Georgia & then moving to Savannah, GA – I have learned that it refers to country black folks who live near the Ogeechee River, this is the origin, but generally for the black folks of the Low Country in Coastal Georgia and South Carolina who are of direct ancestry of the Gullah people. It is a regional reference. I do see where rice comes into play because the Low Country was chosen for settlement because of the environmental conditions having the ability to grow rice. There were many rice plantations along the Ogeechee River. Geechy folks are dark skinned, dark haired, have a ‘country’ dialect of speech and eat low country coastal foods.. shrimp, grits, greens, beans, cabbage, rice, sausage, corn, cornbread… ever have a low country boil? delicious! The Geechy are more in touch with their family traditions and the old ways than the folks living in town. It is a interesting cultural, not many changes over the years.

  18. Nice post though the comments are disheartening. Americans are way too ignorant of their culture. A Geechie is a Gullah person. Trick Daddy might be one as many of them resided in north Florida and moved outward for work.

  19. I’m a gheecie and proud of it! Although I was not born in Charleston, I was brought there by my great-aunt, a school teacher, who raised me from the tender age of six weeks. I’m a graduate of Burke High School, Class of 1964, and glad of it. As a brown-skin,long hair AFRICAN AMERICAN girl with decndants on my father’s side of the family that were Low Country natives and decendents of slaves, I sincerely treaure being called a “Geechie Girl” and embrace the words with love and respect.

  20. My mother’s family is from the south sea islands in South Carolina. My father’s family is originally from Georgia but moved to SC whem he was young. When I was young I remember my father using the term to make my mother angry. She referred to herself and her people as Gullah. I dont think the terms were interchangeable. As the Gullah people thought of themselves as in terms of Africans and retained a close connection to Africa, I believe the term geechie was originally used by other Black people with less of a connection to Africa as a way of saying you just like the rest of us. I think this is the reference to the Ogeechee River.

  21. my mother’s side represent the geechie decent which, in our lineage, consists of native american, caribbean and african. the caribbean region included of isles along the coast of southern u.s, down to brazil; it just depends. there are a lot of misconceptions of the geechie people, however this is my particular background.

  22. I am a geechy gril and I am lost with other beside me we needs. Help. My name and others help me to bring. Ire family. Home we are loss..im am lakizzie j Griffin

  23. Hi i found out that my father and my mother mother are Geechee people. But there are no written information . So how can i trace this information and fine out if this was ture .

  24. I am of Gullah/ Geechy descent. It really doesnt matter about the spelling of a word everyone on this site knows what is being referenced. The Gullah are the first African American Community to be recognized as having a seperate culture from other Africans or African Americans or Blacks, and people of color. The European Americans have many different cultural whites ranging from Scottish, British, Russian, etc…They Gullah come from the Ivory West Coast of Africa allthough they did port in Brazil and and came to the US through the Carolinas to Florida.So that may explain the Creole mixed with Brazillians, and African American skin color ranging from white all the way to dark even more diverse than when all black people were in Africa.

    • “allthough they did port in Brazil and and came to the US through the Carolinas to Florida.So that may explain the Creole mixed with Brazillians, and African American skin color ranging from white all the way to dark even more diverse than when all black people were in Africa.”

      This is ridiculous. And you have a lot to learn about Brazil.

  25. There is so much misinformation about the Gullah/GEECHEE people. NO we are NOT Native Americans, we are the link between Africans and American Americans in the U.S. If you want to know about the roots of the African American culture, look to the Gullah/Geechees. The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor stretches from Wilmington, NC to St. Augustine, FL and 30-35 miles inland. It is an OFFICIAL area designated by Congress in 2006. If you want to know the FACTS contact Queen Quet, the Chieftess of the OFFICIAL Gullah/Geechee Nation. We have a flag, we are a TRUE nation. Queen Quet has even spoken for our people/culture on the floor of the UNITED NATIONS in Switzerland several times. She and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition should be the beginning of any true scholarship of the Gullah/Geechee culture.

    • A “true nation” has its own land, economy and its own sovereignty. I hope you and today’s youth will one day understand this basic notion.

  26. Geechie/Geechy/etc as it is used predominantly by whites today (and thereby among Black youth who learn from whites)…the way in which this term is used today is NOT the way in which this term was used among our ancestors.

    Historically, the term meant a Black southerner, particularly one who was considered to be more “rustic”. In Bahamas, when they use the term “geechy/geechie”, they say it with contempt and it means exactly the same to them – someone Black who is considered to be very rustic/country. The people of Bahamas migrated from the US following the US’s independence from Britain. Yet they still use this term geechy/geechie identically to its historical use – to mean a Black person who is considered to be very country. I’m sure Americans and coastal people will make sure to begin influencing young Bahamians to change their historical meaning of the word. Propaganda rules in this world.

    The term was never used simply in Georgia and South Carolina, as is claimed today – even by those who claim to be “geechie/geechy” in this comments box. In fact, we find this term is used with tremendous frequency in Alabama, for example, during the early 1900s, as well as to mean a Black person from Alabama. As we all know, when someone says “bama” as a slur, they say it to mean a Black person who is considered to be rustic or country.

    The use of the term as meaning only the people in coastal SC and GA is a recent evolution of the term, and came as a result of Lorenzo Dow Turner’s seminal work, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. It would take several decades following this amazing book, and particularly the internet age to influence youth into believing that Geechy/Geechie only meant someone from coastal SC or GA.

    Now there is this yearning to claim exclusivity to the term. Black people can be very, very pathetically sad at times.

    I’ve never known the term to mean a bright person, but I certainly don’t doubt it. This term clearly has meant different things to different people, though I believe the definition I gave is the one understood by most.

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