“Colonists referred to themselves and enslaved blacks who were native-born as creole, to distinguish them from new arrivals from Africa.·Over time, the Creoles and Africans created a French and West African hybrid language called Louisiana Creole or Louisiana Creole French. In some circumstances it was used by slaves, planters and free people of color alike. It is still spoken by Louisiana Creoles in Texas and Louisiana. It can primarily be heard in Zydeco music, at Creole Rodeos and among Creole and some Cajun neighborhoods. Louisiana Creole is typically not spoken in New Orleans in modernity, but certain words and phrases are still used.
As in the French or Spanish Caribbean and Latin American colonies, the Louisiana territory developed a mixed-race class, of whom there were numerous free people of color. In the early days they were descended mostly from European men and enslaved or free black or mixed-race women.
As a group, the mixed-race Creoles rapidly began to acquire education, skills (many in New Orleans worked as craftsmen and artisans), businesses and property. They were overwhelmingly Catholic, spoke Colonial French (although some also spoke Louisiana Creole), and kept up many French social customs, modified by other parts of their ancestry and Louisiana culture. The free people of color married among themselves to maintain their class and social culture. The French-speaking mixed-race population came to be called “Creoles of color”. It was said that “New Orleans persons of color were far wealthier, more secure, and more established than freed Africans and Cajuns elsewhere in Louisiana.”
Under the French and Spanish rulers, Louisiana developed a three-tiered society, similar to that of Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Saint Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other Latin colonies. This three-tiered society included white Creoles; a prosperous, educated group of mixed-race Creoles, of European and African descent; and the far larger class of African slaves (though Cajuns are considered to be the fourth). The status of mixed-race Creoles as free people of color (gens de couleur libres) was one they guarded carefully. By law they enjoyed most of the same rights and privileges as whites. They could and often did challenge the law in court and won cases against whites. They were property owners and created schools for their children. There were some free blacks in Louisiana, but most free people of color were of mixed race. They acquired education, property and power within the colony, and later, state.
After the United States acquired the area in the Louisiana Purchase, mixed-race Creoles of Color resisted American attempts to impose their binary racial culture. In the American South slavery had become virtually a racial caste, in which most people of any African descent were considered to be lower in status. The planter society viewed it as a binary culture, with whites and blacks (the latter including everyone other than whites, although for some years they counted mulattos separately on censuses).
While the American Civil War promised rights and opportunities for the enslaved, the free persons of color, who had long been free before the war, worried about losing their identity and position. The Americans did not legally recognize a three-tiered society. Nevertheless, some Creoles like Thomy Lafon used their position to support the abolitionist cause. And Francis E. Dumas emancipated all of his slaves and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards.
Following the Union victory in the Civil War, the Louisiana three-tiered society was gradually overrun by more Anglo-Americans who classified everyone by the South’s binary division of “black” and “white”. During the Reconstruction era, white Democrats regained power in the Louisiana state legislature by using paramilitary groups like the White League to suppress black voting. They worked to establish white supremacy by passing Jim Crow laws and a constitution near the turn of the century that effectively disfranchised most blacks and Creoles of color through discriminatory application of voter registration and electoral laws. The US Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 supported the binary society and the policy of “separate but equal” facilities (which were seldom achieved in fact) in the segregated South.
Whites, heavily influenced by White American society, increasingly claimed that the term Creole applied to whites only. According to Virginia R. Domínguez:
“Charles Gayarré … and Alcée Fortier … led the unspoken though desperate defense of the Creole. As bright as these men clearly were, they still became engulfed in the reclassification process intent on salvaging white Creole status. Their speeches consequently read more like sympathetic eulogies than historical analysis.”
Sybil Kein suggests that, because of their struggle for redefinition, white Creoles were particularly hostile to the exploration by the writer George Washington Cable of the multiracial Creole society in his stories and novels. She believes that in The Grandissimes, he exposed white Creoles’ preoccupation with covering up blood connections with the free people of color and slaves. She writes:
“There was a veritable explosion of defenses of Creole ancestry. The more novelist George Washington Cable engaged his characters in family feuds over inheritance, embroiled them in sexual unions with blacks and·mulattoes, and made them seem particularly defensive about their presumably pure Caucasian ancestry, the more vociferously the white Creoles responded, insisting on purity of white ancestry as a requirement for identification as Creole.”
In the 1930s, the governor of Louisiana, Huey Long, claimed that you could feed all the “pure” white people in New Orleans with a cup of beans and a half a cup of rice, and still have food left over!·New Orleans was a city divided geographically between Latin (French Creole) and Anglo-American populations until well into the late 19th century. Those of Latin European descent lived east of Canal Street, in what became known as the French Quarter; the new American migrants settled west (“Uptown”) of it. In the mid-19th century, the Esplanade became the center of the Irish Channel, a neighborhood of Irish Catholic immigrants.”
Hand Colored Portrait Of An Anonymous Free Person Of Color c. 1860′s
Faubourg Treme, home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South and the birthplace of jazz
Faubourg Treme is considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, the origin of the Southern Civil Rights Movement -
Long ago during slavery, Faubourg Treme was home to a large, prosperous, and artistically flourishing community free black people. It was also a hotbed of political ferment. Here black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor co-habitated, collaborated, and clashed to create much of what defines New Orleans culture up to the present day. In so many ways its story reflects the tortuous path taken by African American history over the centuries.
In 1862, after Northern troops captured the city, Paul Trevigne, an ancestor of Irving, edited the oldest black-owned daily newspaper in the U.S., The Tribune, which became an eloquent advocate for African Americans’ civil rights. Before the 14th,15th and 16th Amendments, it demanded the right to enlist in the Union army, to vote and to be subject to equal treatment under the law.
Gender is a lens through which slavery can be studied and understood. Cuba’s slavery system was gendered in a way that some duties were performed only by male slaves, some only by female slaves. Female slaves in the city of Havana, from the sixteenth century onwards, performed duties such as operating the town taverns, eating houses, and lodges, as well as being laundresses and domestic laborers and servants. Female slaves also served as the town prostitutes. (General History of the Caribbean, Vol III, p. 141).
Some Cuban women could gain freedom by having children with white men. As in other Latin cultures, there were looser borders with the mulatto or mixed-race population. Sometimes men who took slaves as wives or concubines freed both them and their children. As in New Orleans and Saint-Domingue, mulattos began to be classified as a third group between the European colonists and African slaves. Freedmen, generally of mixed race, came to represent 20% of the total Cuban population and 41% of the non-white Cuban population (General History of the Caribbean, Vol III, pp. 144–5).
I see MANY indigenous people, most of who are unaware/disconnected from their true identity, claim to be “MESTIZO”, and they do so believing this terminology is somehow a term that respectfully & accurately describes indigenous people who happen to be “mixed” (even if they aren’t) with Spanish-blood. And i guess in today’s age “mestizo” just means someone who is European/native mix, so people don’t really see it as a degrading term.
But the ORIGIN of the word “Mestizo” (and Mulatto) are both created out of racism. When Europeans, specifically Spaniards raped indigenous women, and the women gave birth, the Spaniards did NOT view the child as his son/daughter, nor as a human, but rather half Spaniard, and then half dog, since Spaniards did NOT view indigenous people as humans, but as dogs who were cursed by their Christian “god”, which is why they labeled the “mixed” children “Mestizo/Mulatto”, not just because Europeans viewed indigenous people as less than humans, but also with the intention to detach the indigenous people from their true identity, and then tricking them into adopting a racist-terminology that would further disconnect and/or ethnically cleanse indigenous people, and have them claiming an identity that NOT only detached them from their origin, but is also a term born out of hatred against indigenous people. Mestizo is NOT an ethnicity, nor a race, nor anything at all, so claiming it means to claim to be NOTHING; “I am a NOTHING”, and/or claiming to be what the Spaniards saw in you: A half-breed dog; not human enough to be looked and/or treated like a human, which is why the “half-breed dog” was either enslaved by the Spanish father or sold to other European slavers, and afterwards killing the indigenous mother.