jet creoles

Who Ya People

It is a worldwide celebration of creole peoples everywhere-from Louisiana, to the Caribbean, to Brazil and even Cape Verde. It is a cultural celebration.

On a Facebook post, my Louisiana Creole community posted a question:

“You know you are a Louisiana Creole if…”

Undoubtedly, one individual had to pounce on this as an opportunity to insinuate that all Creoles of Color simply do not which to identify as black.

As a lover of history and culture, I thought it my duty to share the difference between nationality, race and ethnicity.

Basic definitions:

  1. Race is a social construct created by government agencies, based on physical features. (check your skin).
  1. Nationality is your country of birth and/or where you have citizenship. (check your paperwork)
  1. Ethnicity is a cultural identity based on language, religion, and/or a shared history/ancestry. (check with your people)

So, if you want to label me, here are my boxes:

  1. Race: Black
  2. Nationality: American
  3. Ethnicity: Louisiana Creole

Ignorant people are unable to make the distinctions between these classification systems. They, often tend to shout the loudest, not knowing they are only making a fool of themselves. Race, nationality and ethnicity are not mutually exclusive. In other words, one label does not determine the other. My race does not change if I renounce my American citizenship and become British. Being American doesn’t automatically make me black. Claiming my Creole heritage does not mean I am not a proud black woman.

Some might ask, well what is the best way to identify? Identity is a mixture of where you were born/reside (nationality), how other people view you (race), and who your people are (ethnicity).

Why I think more people should identify by ethnicity:

  1. America is an extremely racialized society. Since, our country is this way. Many assume other nations are this way as well. Race was created as a means to belittle and control people on government terms. It is a way to manipulate people by creating a permanent class system. It also assumes that because people share physical features they are more closely related biologically otherwise. We know this is false.
  1. Nationality is an extremely broad category. The US, like most modern countries is a multiethnic melting pot (or tossed salad).  In a country with over 300 million people, we are as diverse as they come. Traveling from one state to another is similar to traveling between small countries elsewhere. Each region has its on flavor. So by identifying solely as an American, fails to show the diversity in our experiences. Being American is different for a Texan vs. New Englander.
  1. Ethnicity is about finding your kinfolk. It is the closest link to other human beings after blood relatives. It is based on a shared history and often a shared ancestry. (Is my history more closely related to a white Louisiana Creole or to a black Kikuyu Kenyan? Even though our skin color is different, we have more in common with a white Louisiana Creole. A Kikuyu speaks a different language, has a different religion, has no link to America and biologically are extremely different form my ancestors from Central and West Africa.)

Identifying as Creole is about acknowledging our of shared cultural history. It is about community-building, not race-baiting.

So, who ‘ya people?
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Photo: ComehomeLA

Louisiana Diaspora- IT IS TIME TO COME HOME

Louisiana has been losing residents by the thousands for decades, equaling to hundreds of thousands of individuals who have left in a pursuit for a better life. The reasons are normally the same: economical issues, educational opportunities, and even at times political corruption.

According to a study the state had the first positive net migration in 2008-2009 since 1981. In fact, during the 2000s decade, Louisiana led the nation in net migration loss, this does include Hurricane Katrina numbers. However, families have been leaving the bayous of Louisiana for a long time. During the years of 1985-1990 alone an estimated 250,000-300,000 Louisiana residents left the state. Because of this, Louisiana even lost representation during the 2010 election.

In saying this, people left for different reasons. Many of our families had their reasons for leaving, listed below are some examples of why people left Louisiana:

1920s – 1930s: The Great Flood, Escape Racism, loss of agricultural life in the south, the Great Migration

1930s-1950s: Racism, loss of agricultural jobs in the south, Industrialization in larger cities, especially in the north, educational opportunities, the Great Migration

1960s-Present: Better paying jobs, loss of agricultural life in the south, lack of educational opportunities, natural disasters (During the past century, hurricanes have flooded New Orleans six times: in 1915, 1940, 1947, 1965, 1969 and 2005

The reasons are numerous and many reasons aren’t even listed. However, recent data explains the young, educated, and talent of Louisiana are leaving because of the difference in pay. In 2008 a Louisiana resident on average would expect wages of $37,529 compared to others who left of $45,949.

With that said, Louisiana realizes people leaving is a major problem. The loss of talent hurts industries and makes it harder to find qualified individuals for certain jobs. Not to mention, the people that know Louisiana best are those whose roots are in Louisiana. A new campaign that is quickly gaining momentum is asking for Louisiana’s children to “Come Home”.  The Come Home, Louisiana campaign highlights that Louisiana provides a “Work. Life. Balance.” atmosphere.

The following are a few campaign ADs calling the children of Louisiana home:

comehomeLA 1



“They say everything is bigger in Texas…but bigger is not always better” -Reginald Belizaire

“I love New York, but I always did what I could to keep Louisiana with me…” -Alix Gonsoulin

Miss home? Born and raised in Louisiana and want to return home? Is your family from Louisiana and you consider it to be your home? CLICK HERE to start the process of returning home.


-Jambalaya Magazine Contributor



broccoli soup

Broccoli and Crab Soup a la Lwizyan

The cooler days of autumn are here in Louisiana. Not only time for gumbo, but soups using fresh vegetables from our gardens are tempting and satisfying as well. So now it is time for some BROCCOLI and CRAB SOUP A LA LWIZYAN!!! The warmth and taste of this soup will nourish your body and your soul!


broccoli soup

1 stick butter
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (any color)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
4 cups chopped broccoli flowerettes
1 small head of chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 quart spring or purified water
1 large can evaporated milk
4 wedges Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese
1 8oz. package cream cheese
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound crabmeat, claw or lump
Creole seasoning of choice
1 capful crab boil

In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine butter, onions, bell pepper, celery, carrots, broccoli, garlic, shallots, parsley and mushrooms. Saute until carrots and broccoli are tender. Add water, evaporated milk, garlic & herb cheese, cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheeses are melted and mixtures come to a boil. Add crabmeat, seasoning and crab boil. On low heat, simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and cover soup, allowing to set for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnishing with cheddar cheese if you desire. Enjoy as this soup warms your body and your soul!

-Dana Rodrigue (Jambalaya Cuisine Writer)

Dana Rodrigue

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What do Louisiana Creoles look like?

I will say this,

This post will not “define the race” of Louisiana Creoles. There is a big misconception that Louisiana Creole has a certain look, type, or even race. However, the real truth is that the culture is multicultural. Therefore, the people are multicultural. There are individuals who have more French or Spanish ancestry. Not to mention, others that have more African or Native American ancestry. Yet, all can be a descendants of the Louisiana Creole diaspora.

The BIGGEST surprise to many non-Louisiana folks is that often times we are all related. I will explain this, back in the 1700s and 1800s people in Louisiana intermixed for many reasons. The reasons were sometimes good and other times not so good. All be it, the bonds of the people in Louisiana are not just cultural, they are often DNA linked. Especially in Louisiana’s rural towns and villages people of different skin tones can all be related to a common ancestor. This story is more prevalent than not.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and some indivuals accept having a multicultural family and others not as much. All be it, with sights like there is a wealth of information being presented to us about our ancestors. For example, I always knew I had a love for Irish culture. Now, you may not know me, but I am darker brown individual. But, when I took the DNA test, it revealed I had a nice amount of Irish heritage…who knew? But, with a little research I found out Louisiana has quite the Irish past.

Today, I want to dedicate this post to all of us doing family research. The families who are bringing individuals together, regardless of “Race” or a “look”. Because at the end of the day, we all call Louisiana home. These words are only justified by my friends and Pointe Coupee couzans, a family of different ethnic backgrounds, but of one culture, Louisiana Creole culture. These individuals had researched and confirmed via 23andMe that they are related, yes indeed, couzans (cousins for non-Louisiana folks).


The family ties into one family, the Gremillion family of Pointe Coupee Parish (near Baton Rouge, Louisiana). These individuals are now residents of different areas of Louisiana and different states. In saying this, they may not have known they were related in past decades or even century, but moving forward they continue building strong relationships. They are proud to be related regardless of the issue of race in our country. They each share two strong bonds, an ancestor, and a Creole heritage.

So the next time someone asks, “What do Louisiana Creoles look like” I will simply say, “like a culture that transcends racial barriers”.

The Gremillion Family story can be seen on PBS Genealogy Roadshow in 2015

Make the Louisiana Diaspora proud Gremillion family!

-Jambalaya Contributor (@jambalayainc instagram)


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Slavery NEVER happened in Louisiana

The plantation industry is a big business in Louisiana. In the past, the plantations were the breeding grounds for agricultural life in the south, today it is all about tourism. The state of Louisiana has been able to keep and restore many of it’s old plantations. These plantations are all across Louisiana, from the northern parish of Natchitoches to the parishes in the southern swampy part of the state.

There are a number of these plantations that give tours to tourists. I have been on about 4 plantation tours. I love history and as a descendant of Louisiana, I wanted to learn more about the slave life in a former French colony. All be it, there is one problem, some plantations hardly mention the topic, some tour guides can barely give you any facts about slavery in Louisiana.

I believe my statement is best described by Lamar White Jr. in his piece, Why 12 Years A Slave will Always Matter in Louisiana:

“We spend millions of dollars marketing our plantation homes as sleepy, nostalgic, and beautiful destinations for weddings and tour groups, and we spend millions more incentivizing renovations of these homes under the pretense of historic preservation. And maybe that would be okay and understandable, but at the same time, we’re scrubbing all vestiges of slavery from these plantations. With few exceptions, it is almost impossible to find a plantation in Louisiana that preserves its slave quarters with the same diligence and care as it does its main house. And again, with few exceptions, you’ll likely never hear anyone in the Louisiana tourism industry admit that plantations, to quote my cousin Paul White III, are actually “concentration camps.” That thousands of African-American families also lived, worked, and died in these places, that hundreds of African-Americans were brutally murdered in these places, that the majestic oak trees in the brochures were once used for lynchings, that right beyond the immaculately manicured gardens there are long-forgotten cemeteries.”

I cannot help but feel emotional about the way plantation history is handled in Louisiana. As though the story of the plantation owners is more valuable than the thousands of slaves on the plantations. However, thankfully one Louisiana citizen has taken upon himself to change this, I think his quote “Who built this son of a b*tch” sums up why he believes slavery needs to be talked about on the plantations. Mr. John Cummings a successful New Orleans real estate agent, has spent $7 million of his own money, renovating the Whitney Plantation. READ THE STORY HERE.

John Cummings

The best thing about this plantation is, it is 100% dedicated to the lives of the slaves. Yes, the only plantation in Louisiana to do so, you will be able to visit and understand more about slavery on the plantation in depth. Now, I will say there are plantations such as the Laura Creole Plantation that has incorporated slavery on their tours. All be it, the Whitney Plantation will be the first African American based museum dedicated 100% to slavery.

Unique things that will be seen at the Whitney Plantation in the future will be 400,000 names on a plaque to intimately document slavery’s existence in this state (Louisiana) through 1865. I cannot wait to see my ancestor’s names amongst the others.

I only pray that we continue to tell the stories of our enslaved ancestors, they built Louisiana, they built the south, they built this nation. I am honored to see there will be one plantation tour that will discuss the horrible side of slavery. The fancy plantations and their romantic theme, wasn’t romantic for the more than 400,000 slaves during Louisiana’s history. The real truth is many slaves were beaten, worked to death, sold from their families, and endured horrible conditions. In order for us to heal our racial wound in this country, we have to have real discussions about the past, acting as if it didn’t happen, is not the answer, it never will be.

TO visit the Whitney Plantation (Opening December 2014) CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

This article is dedicated to my 2x great grandfather, Thomas Roberson of Pointe Coupee Parish, the first in maternal grandmother’s lineage to be born free and not a slave. (Below is my grandmother (left), Orea Hill, the granddaughter of Thomas Roberson)


-Elroy Johnson IV (instagram: @bayoulonestar)




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Photo Credit: Whitney Plantation (Slave Quarters)


Similar Stories: Louisiana Plantation Tours Skittish on Slavery History (The Advocate)

Similar Stories: Why saying I’m Black wasn’t enough

(Looking to visit a plantation? Here is a couple of plantations that incorporate slavery on their tours: Laura Creole Plantation and Evergreen Plantation, we hope in the future to add more to this list)


Passe Blanc “Blacks who passed for white”

The term “passe blanc” is a familiar term in Louisiana. The term refers to people of color who passed for white. Unfortunately, our country has had many issues with race. In saying this, many Louisiana descendants were light enough to pass for white and some did. These individuals often saw the possibility of switching identities as a means to a better life: no racism, better education, more job opportunities, and the “American Dream”. The real reality is many “Black/Creole” individuals left Louisiana as a person of color and arrived normally in the Northeast or Midwest as a “White/French” person.

Below are some real stories of individuals not knowing their families past…..

For more information about this unique part of Black history, check out this NPR story.

-Jambalaya Magazine Contributor





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What is the Louisiana Diaspora?

Here with the Jambalaya Magazine we celebrate the “Louisiana Diaspora”. This term maybe unfamiliar to the masses, because we often use the word “diaspora” to refer to immigrants to the United States. However, the term isn’t exclusively for those from other nations. The culture of Louisiana is UNPARALLED meaning the history is different than many American states. The history, culture, and native languages creates an “un-American state” in the United States. The people of Louisiana hold their culture and traditions close to their hearts. The main reason is because Louisiana has traditions older than the United States. In saying this, when our families leave Louisiana for better opportunities, we don’t stop thinking, living, and believing in Louisiana.

The way the Louisiana diaspora often views Louisiana, is how Japenese-Americans view Japan, or Jamaican-Americans view Jamaica, or Mexican-Americans view Mexico. We may not have been born in Louisiana, or we may have been and left, all be it, it is home. The state of Louisiana has been my family’s home for at least 6 generations, I still have many cousins and aunts living in the Crescent State.

In saying this, the writer Lynell George is apart of the Louisiana Diaspora, this Los Angeles native has deep roots in New Orleans. His story New Orleans is my second language, is the anthem of the tens of thousands of Louisiana families who have moved to find a better life. His view point is summed up in the quote, “In certain ways, I knew New Orleans before I knew Los Angeles.”

-Elroy Johnson IV






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"Celebrating the Louisiana Diaspora"


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