I could not help but wonder the age of my great-grandmother because she looks much younger than my great-grandfather. Back then, the girls married young and I would think my great-grandfather robbed the cradle. But, no one knows their exact age here in this photo.
From what my Aunts tell me, C. Cezar-Guillory was no push over. Her father built the first school for Creoles of Color in Soileau, LA which both my Aunts attended.
We also visited the Creole National Park at the Oakland Plantation in Natchitoches, LA and found more history on Creoles. There were Creoles of color which were the descendants of the French Creoles, those from France that were born in the United States. Which leads to the issue of skin color....
Many believe that in order to be officially a Creole you must be of a light complexion...not necessarily true. The documentation from the Creole National Park proves that during intermixing of slaves and owners some were of "high yellow" and some took on the skin color of the darken skinned parent, it all boils down to genetics.
Now, there were regions in Louisiana were some Creoles would marry their cousins in order to keep the skin color of a more "white" completion so that they could enjoy more privileges . The fact of the matter is that being Creole is not about skin color, it's all about heritage.
I remember growing up and hearing about the parties that some could only attend if they could pass the paper bag test. Which means, a brown paper bag would be held up to your face and if you were darker than the paper bag then they would not be admitted into the function. This is all a result of the Big House mentality. We all know the story.
I've always hated the whole skin color thing and today we still struggle with skin color insecurities as a people. I'm sickened by the poison that some still feed their children about being light skinned or should I say "bright skinned, as some call it, as being better!" I'll try to contain myself but that ignorance really sets me off!!
I remember both sides of the spectrum because my sister who was darker received less praise and attention than I did from our maternal family. Let the truth be told, I've always believed she was more beautiful than me anyway. She shared a story with me recently where one of our Aunts offended her a child. We were all playing with our cousins at my aunts (her two grand children were our cousins) house and it was getting late so we asked if we could stay the night and she responded saying " sure ya'll can, but that dark one can't (my sister)! For the life of me I don't remember the comment but I guess it was not directed towards me so I'm not sure how I processed the whole situation.
To add insult to injury, I have friends from many different places and once, one of my Nigerian male friends told me that I should thank him for selling off our people because that was the reason for my skin color. (he was joking of course) But that comment started a nasty debate, needless to say, I was the Matron of Honor in his wedding after I worked him over.
Additionally, my buddies from some of the islands are so proud to not be call Black American that they make it a point to say the are anything but Black American. We've often debated the fact that many of the Africans were dropped off at those islands ports (including Haiti) and hence their heritage? This has always been a debate within my circle if friends and I beat that drum to death because of their arrogance of not being a black from the US. Does it really matter, no because the world sees us all as Black Americans, regardless of our accent or skin color.
Yes, I'm very proud of my Creole heritage but when people ask me where I am from I tell them Louisiana and my last name is the only thing that raises any questions. The bottom line is I am Black and love talking about my Creole heritage. I can tell you I am often not given the chance to show who I really am when introducted for the first time because too many times people tell me "I thought you were "stuck up" or my all time favorite "bougie" until I got to know you." I pride myself on "keeping it real" so I know I'm not either. If you feel otherwise, please share.
As I think back, I remember the prejudices within our own family race and now that I know how to deal with...I have little patience for any of it. When the rubber meets the road, we should be happy with who we are and not feeling as though we are better than anyone for any reason. If we treat each other with respect and dignity regardless of our differences, this world would be a better place!
Ok, I went all over the place with this post, it's out now!