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.
- Race is a social construct created by government agencies, based on physical features. (check your skin).
- Nationality is your country of birth and/or where you have citizenship. (check your paperwork)
- 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:
- Race: Black
- Nationality: American
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.