Why Was This Secret Language So Important To Black Families?

Black and White photo of White family
Leslie Taylor-Grover
October 19, 2021

“A secret language?” Jasmine’s eyes lit up. “Does it still exist? Where did it come from?” She was full of questions. Her grandmother was proud to tell her what happened. After all, this was family history.

“This language is Tut,” the old woman began. “It’s been passed down for generations. My grandparents came from a plantation in Duck Hill, Mississippi, and the white man there beat anyone to death who tried to learn to read or write.”

Jasmine wanted to cry. She thought about how many books she read and the number of texts she sent every day. Imagine being killed just for communicating! “I’m sorry, Grandmama. I know it must have been hard!” 

Her grandmother laughed.

The language still exists. It takes a little practice at first, but we give names to consonants. Vowels keep their sounds. Don’t be sad, Jas. We showed those white folks a thing or two! Black folks spoke Tut right in white folks’ faces and said everything we had to say!” 

Jasmine and her grandmother giggled. She was proud of her family history.

Even when our people were kept from reading and writing, we still found a way to educate and protect ourselves. Tut language kept us safe and kept white people where they belong – out of our business.

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