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Race In My Community: A Personal Account

1815 words - 7 pages

Race in My 2My name is Kat. Much of my formative years were spent in south Florida which is truly a melting pot of ethnicities, and I loved it. I am a "German American", my children are Spanish and Portuguese as well as German, my husband is Bolivian, and my closest friends are Jamaican and Cuban. In my opinion one of the most exciting things is learning about different cultures and enjoying their differences. My husband and I moved from south Florida to southern Louisiana ten years ago. After first moving to Louisiana we suffered a bit of culture shock because of the lack of ethnicities. Living on the "North Shore" (across the lake from New Orleans) we encountered a small number of Mexican Americans and a few African Americans, but that was about it for different ethnicities. It seems that Louisiana has its own blended culture "Cajun". However, after some time we discovered that a large percentage of people claiming to be "Cajun" really were not. It seems to me after much contemplation that there is a great chasm where true cultural history should be in southern Louisiana. Other than those of us who moved to the area in the last decade and those with a more distinct cultural history (Blacks and Mexicans) there is mostly the culture of the great pretenders. That is not to say that there are not true Cajun people just that many who claim they are, are not. Why, what happened to the true cultural or ancestral history of these pretenders?After settling in our new home in Louisiana we set about trying to make the community our home. We quickly made friends at church. But being used to much more cultural diversity we started seeking out ethnic restaurants, this mostly in hopes of becoming acquainted with people of other cultures. At this time I thought to check it out on the good ole internet for some cultural education. Just exactly what are the demographics of race and ethnicity here in southern Louisiana, I wondered. What I found was 31% Black, 2% Hispanic, and 1% Asian at the time (Louisiana.Gov). It was hard to believe these numbers because we saw very few people of any race other than white. What we ended up discovering is that the area was very segregated, our area was around 87% white not Hispanic, 10% Black and less than 3% made up other races (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997). Upon further delving into the matter we found that the original demographic data we found was based on the South Shore. A huge percentage of the Black population was in New Orleans. But we learned quickly that New Orleans was not a place we wanted to be, not unless absolutely necessary. The culture here is based on drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Half naked women hanging onto open bar doors, little children dancing for coins as their parents sit in the bar watching and spending their coins on alcohol. And unfortunately that is when we started seeing the prejudice. We are intelligent fairly well educated individuals so we are aware that prejudice exists, but we were...

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