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View Diary: Louisiana's multi-colored history and hypocrisy (298 comments)

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  •  History points a finger at hypocrisy (117+ / 0-)

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 03:32:30 AM PDT

    •  I was hoping you'd take this on... (27+ / 0-)

      ...and it's illuminating to see how an unquestionably racist position can be seen by this individual as not being racist.

      Thank you for this diary.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 06:26:13 AM PDT

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    •  to add to your article (20+ / 0-)

      at one time, the city and the French Quarter contained 18,000 Creoles. Anne Rice wrote a fairly factual book called "The Feast of All Saints" (also a movie), that describes Creole life pretty well. Check it out.

      Some Creoles were slaves and some had slaves, some worked their way out of slavery, and some bought others out of slavery. As a culture, they were very successful, sending their children to France for education and upbringing. As it always seems to be in the US, New Orleans had a distinct culture until the Anglos came down the MS river and forced their Anglo based ways on the city. The Creoles stayed in the Quarter and on Esplanade, where their mansions were, while the Anglos moved to the other side of Canal st. This is why the street names change at Canal- the Anglos did not want to use the French street names for "their" part of the city. The feds shut down Storyville, and forced segregation upon the city, classifying anyone with any Negro blood as black. The Feds tried to force seating segregation upon the streetcars by making blacks sit in the back of the car, behind a movable barrier, but the locals would have none of it.

      "Creole" was the original name for anyone born in La., but this morphed into a Louisianne of mixed blood, French, African, Haitian, Spanish, American Indian, Italian, but founded upon French culture and language. The Creoles had what became to be known as "the paper bag test" - if your skin was any darker than a brown paper bag then you were not allowed in, and it is their social organizations, - social aid and pleasure clubs that became "Krewes" that Mardi Gras is founded upon. The Creoles has a scale of "blackness" depending on your percentage of Negro blood: Quadroon, Octaroon, etc., but you had to have Negro blood in your veins to become one. At one time they Creole society was so powerful that some whites tried to pass to get in, claiming they were a sixteenth black. In truth, it became hard to tell who was of what Blood line, especially with people who had Spanish or Italian parentage.

      An interesting tidbit: when the Italian immigration to New Orleans happened, the Italians took over the Quarter and mixed with the Creole culture. There was a labor wanted sign that read, "whites- $1.00 dollar per day, blacks, 50 cents, Italians 25 cents. And the largest mass lynching in the US happened in New Orleans, to 11 Italians

      http://www.niaf.org/...

      The rest of La is very different from New Orleans, hence this guy in Hammond who won't wed a mixed race couple. (BTW, have you seen pix of Mr. McKay? He is about as Creole as they come.). I lived and worked there for quite some time, and found that the rest of the state was odd- some Cajuns, with their isolated culture and history of accepting runaway slaves into their midst would turn around and become racist, while others didn't care at all. One only needs to look at the development of Zydeco music to see this- blacks, descendants of freedmen and runaway slaves who grew up in the Cajun culture, speaking basically 18th Century French, playing accordion and dancing the two step. But it seems to me that the Anglos- those of Scots - Irish, and English descent, were the worst racists. Heck, I am mostly Italian and when I wanted to marry a woman of Scots Irish descent, her father had a fit, and this was in the mid 70's. And I've worked with people there who call themselves black, but have Italian last names and had lighter skin than I do.

      So you can't judge the state as a whole- La. has to be taken in as two or more entities: New Orleans, the rest of the state, which can be subdivided into Cajun, white and black.

      The post does raise the question, and this cuts both ways- "how much blood does a person have to have to be called "black"? I have seen black resentment against Creole people and black women getting mad at white women, for "Stealing out men" so it is a two sided sword.  So. at what point does a person with Negro blood become grouped as white? It still bothers me that Obama is called black, even though he could be white, just as easily. Where do we delineate?

      I think America needs to go learn some New Orleans history, and accept the fact that there are no sharp lines between the races anymore, and the number of people of mixed race heritage are growing. We have a Creole president. And those who still keep to the ways of racism are dinosaurs, futilely fighting to keep their hate for blacks alive. And the GOP is doing it's best to keep racism alive for its political advantage.

      Skunks Stink. Republicans Lie. It's their nature.

      by azureblue on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:25:42 AM PDT

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      •  Yes have read Rice (15+ / 0-)

        and its a good read - but this isn't just NOLA history.  I lived in Baton Rouge. Perhaps it would be better to speak of parishes with large sugar plantation based economies.  The northern part of the state is different.

        Be careful not to conflate those who call themselves true Creoles (white) and the "beige aristocracy" of  families descended from gens de colour.

        Dominguez' work is important in this regard.

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:32:10 AM PDT

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      •  Anne Rice's books (7+ / 0-)

        are incredible.  I was just going to ask if anyone had read "The Feast of All Saints".  The story is a great picture of what it must have been like back then.  What I think we all forget is that, fundamentally, some people felt that blacks were their property, to do with what they would.  And, believe me, that's exactly what happened.

        Great diary!

        "Life's a bitch and then you die; that's why we get high Cause you never know when you're gonna go" -- Nas & AZ the Visualizer

        by avamontez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:51:21 AM PDT

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      •  The "paper bag test" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sephius1, Deoliver47, James Robinson

        was at the center of an episode of "Frank's Place" (a "sitcom" with no laugh track set in NO and  examining the cultural differences between the northern and southern experiences of blackness).  

        Generally I don't take teevee shows very seriously (I don't have teevee at my house), but that series and that episode in particular delved into these issues with a depth and subtlety not found on The Cosby Show (which was a huge hit at the time --the late eighties).

        I'm just throwing that in because I never thought that series got the attention it deserved.

        I can't think of anybody who's ever changed my mind about anything by yelling at me and telling me how morally superior they are.

        by Urizen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:53:44 AM PDT

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    •  Great history lesson. (12+ / 0-)

      I never understand  why people can't let go of the antebellum thinking from 150 years ago.  Is that what "conservative" means in Louisiana and other southern areas?  I live in central Texas and hear coded racial terms all the time.  I'm disgusted by it all.  Life is way too short to keep hammering at this.  Besides:

      Race, biologically speaking, is a minor issue when it comes to propagating a species.  In virtually every breeding population of virtually every kind of sexual organism, there is racial "mixing".  The progeny are called "hybrids".  Hybrids go on to mix with other hybrids and so forth.  The great sorting out know as evolution creates enough hybrids that some will survive environmental changes and some will not.  

      With regard to humans, it goes something like this:  Modern humans evolved in Africa then migrated to various corners of the world where environmental and survival conditions isolated breeding populations from one another such that outward physical appearances became unique to those populations.  But these isolations didn't last long enough for these populations to become genetically unique and not able to breed back into the original gene pool.  The outward appearance is called phenotype.  The genetic imperative is the genotype.  

      With the advent of international and inter continental travel, so-called racial gene pools were forced to mix.  Marco Polo's adventures to Asia added to all the sailing around the world of the Portugese, Spanish and English explorers to demand that genes between the two or more populations were mixed.  When Euopeans stole Africans and moved them to the West, plantation owners had their way with the female slaves and produced the original population of "mulattos".  This activity has continually been going on for over 300 years now, so I don't see any way for racial "purity" to be an issue.

      Certain white groups insist that their blood is "pure".  Well, not exactly.  Their ancestry includes an intermixing of various European and Asian gene pools such that racial "purity" is moot.  And, of course, they would never admit that their original ancestors are African.  

      When I taught biology I always told this story.  I wonder how many science teachers could get away with that in Louisiana?

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:28:39 AM PDT

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      •  LOL - well "science" (10+ / 0-)

        is being resisted in plenty of schools.  Why let a little reality confuse things :)

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:34:05 AM PDT

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        •  Here in Texas.... (9+ / 0-)

          we have members of the state board of education screaming that science is all wrong and should be given as a debate rather than a method to prove or disprove facts.  It's silly, really.  It's silly until you realize how many of our children are being cheated out of the truth.

          This pogrom is, of course, being sponsored by fundamentalist Christians who are scared to death that they are wrong.

          BTW, I'm glad we're back on speaking terms.

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:50:30 AM PDT

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          •  :) let's keep it that way (5+ / 0-)

            I don't hold DKos based grudges.  There is enough to worry about in the world.

            "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

            by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:52:17 AM PDT

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            •  Me too. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sephius1, Deoliver47, RadioGirl

              No kidding.  I wrote a letter of opinion to our local newsrag smacking a local "conservative" columnist who says we did fine before 1913 when there were no personal income or corporate taxes.  How backward can these idiots get?  He cited Biblical scripture as God telling man to tithe 10% without exceptions.  Where?  How?  You get the idea.  I live in a pool of human ignorance, but it is beautiful country.

              "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

              by dolfin66 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:44:33 AM PDT

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      •  Those "pure whites" are (9+ / 0-)

        suspect to me. LOL! I want them to take a DNA test and find out how many of them have an ancestor that came here on a slave ship.

        Unless they know for sure that both sides of their family just came over here in the 20th century, all white people are black, I suspect. And they'd better not dare to try and change the one-drop rule, either. They'd just better come on over for Sunday dinner and stop all this foolishness. :-D

        •  By the same token.... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sephius1, Deoliver47, GenXangster

          maybe all black people in America have one drop of white blood.  Oh my goodness!  We've got a conspiracy!  

          I have a dear friend with whom I have had a very long term friendship.  Her family still talks about our good times together in L.A. before we went our separate geographic ways.  Claudia's brother is a former major league ballplayer and her sister is a lawyer, etc.  Claudia says to me:  "You're black inside."  I couldn't think of a higher compliment no matter what TechmeTonight thinks.  LOL.

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:51:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  :) About 70% of "black" people (4+ / 0-)

            in the States have recent (5 - 8 generations) European ancestry.  

            "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

            by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I knew it was something.... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sephius1, Deoliver47

              along those lines.  I think we should all be very happy about those mixes because it keeps the genetics of the species very healthy and vigorous.  You know, the USA became great BECAUSE it was a melting pot for multiple gene pools.  Adding African and Asian genes to the mix can do nothing but make us stronger, smarter and better able to deal with the rest of an increasingly insular world - at least in the middle east.  I hope we live long enough to see this fruit save the world from human extinction.

              "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

              by dolfin66 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:20:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Keith Bardwell, "Justice of the Peace" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sephius1, Deoliver47, RadioGirl

      moron oxymoron

      History...learned lots again this morning De.
      Great diary - it's a "keeper"

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:58:00 AM PDT

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    •  Deoliver, A Question [?] (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sephius1, mayim, Deoliver47, RadioGirl

      Do you know when this picture of your cousin's grandmother was taken? Or at least, if you don't, when she was born and died?

      Deoliver47, I always enjoy reading your diaries--but this is one of my favorites. A good friend from Louisiana is actually of Anglo (as opposed to Creole) descent. It's so strange to me that in places from Louisiana to here on the West Coast, there are people who have a problem with that. Or me, if they can suspect or find out that I'm interracial, too.

      We sort of take things for granted about strangers. And other people can just bore us to tears anyway. But how often do we know the secrets and the history?

      These clowns claim to admire him [Cronkite] but do not wish to emulate him - GUGA

      by Nulwee on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:36:22 AM PDT

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      •  Yes it was taken in Baltimore (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nulwee, sephius1, mayim, RadioGirl

        MD about 1895.  She was born in 1881 died in 1979.

        She is listed in some census records as mulatto, others as white and others as black :)

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:41:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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