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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: assimilation of Chesapeake fpoc with LA Creole

Well, I think assimilation would be an appropriate word to describe what happened to some of these folks from Virginia and the Carolinas when they migrated to Louisiana during the late Spanish period. The Perkins[PORKIN in Louisiana], Chavis[CHEVIS/CHEVES in Louisiana], and KEYS[KESS/KEIFF in Louisiana] were English-speaking Protestants. In other words, they were seen as culturally Anglo by the Spanish and the Louisiana Creoles in the colony. Also, they stepped into a world with a totally different system of labeling and describing people too. While the Anglo-American world had a RACIAL classification system, the Latin Louisianians had system based on colorism that described people based on physical appearance. So a term like "Negro" used by English-speakers did not have the same meaning as used by the Spanish and the French[The French used "Negre" to describe persons with dark or brown-skin. It usually suggested someone of African descent, but not in all cases.] Louisiana society was closer to Cuba or Brazil culturally then Virginia or North Carolina]

During that time, The Spanish had an open-door policy to people who wanted to migrate to Louisiana. The only catch was that the only recognized religion in the region was Catholicism. So if you wanted to get married and have your children legitimized, you had to be catholic. As a result, many were baptized or married in the Catholic church. Some still were Protestant in private. Others fully converted into the catholic church and married Louisiana Creoles. So they went "Creole" and many of the children of these unions grew up in Louisiana and adopted the language, religion, and other cultural habits of the Louisiana Creoles. But what is curious is that some of these families still married the same people they married in the Carolinas and Virginia in Louisiana.

The results of generations of cultural assimilation made the CHEVIS/CHEVES family a known Louisiana Creole family of color in Pre-Civil War Southwest Louisiana. Many of them have names like Jean Baptiste Chevis, Basilide Chevis, or Andre Chevis.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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