My Family Passed for White (A Hidden Secret)

My Family Passed for White (A Hidden Secret)

Jambalaya Magazine & Clothing

Julia Dumas, Culture Blogger

One Culture, Many Colors

One of my earliest memories is attending church with my Dumas family in Saint John the Baptist Parish. It was a small, white building of the Protestant denomination. Us children were gathered together in the front learning to sing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. For those that do not know, it goes a little something like this:

Jesus loves the little children
All God’s children of the world
Red and yellow, black, and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

One of the greatest flaws in humanity is our need to create hierarchies. We separate, then judge one another to make ourselves feel better. Early humans differentiated themselves based on religious beliefs and royal birth status. Today, class and color makes one person feel superior to another based on our social order. Most people know this is lunacy, but some truly believe people of different colors are a different type of people. There are prejudices so ingrained in our society that we often do not detect the bias until irreparable harm has been done. Sadly, the Creole community is not immune.

I would like you to meet my cousin Paula.

Paula, like myself and most other Creoles, has the blood of people from the four corners of the world flowing their her veins. She likes to say, “I am every woman!” Her family’s story was once considered scandalous. In the 1930s, her grandparents, who were Creoles of Color, left Louisiana and chose to live as white for the rest of their days. Remember the movie Imitation of Life?

In Creole country, we call this passe blanc (passing for white). It is a choice many people made, but very few have been willing to speak of. It is a subject full of shame. Some people are ashamed of their African heritage, while others are ashamed of the choices their ancestors made by passing. There is no shame here, only a longing to reconnect to a family and culture stripped away…

Read the entire article here.

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