What Color Is Creole? | Letters | Chicago Reader

What Color Is Creole? 

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To the editors:

I'm deeply offended by the gross inaccuracies of your February 24 article on a Cajun restaurant in Oak Park that should have been balanced by the author's knowledge which obviously was woefully lacking or professionalism, i.e., a little bit of research.

The latter would have shown her, Bryan Miller, that Creole people, cooking and culture originating from Louisiana are black as in African American.

I couldn't believe the restaurant owner, Patsy Younghouse, was actually talking about Creoles as if they are white. Simply watching Frank's Place on T.V. could have taught the writer and her that much. I can't help but wonder what black women did her grandmother or grandmother's mother get her recipes from. It's a sad commentary on this country when white people like Younghouse are still defining blackness in their own racist terms by whitewashing whatever they deem notable and distinct about it--that is to make something over as white or white inspired.

The fact that your paper is promoting this, ipso facto, by publishing the article without even posing a question to balance Younghouse's off-handed postulations speaks to the continual lack of integrity among whites when it comes to race and authenticity.

Mara Scudder
Near North

Bryan Miller replies:

Ms. Scudder is dead wrong on several counts, and might want to consider doing a little research herself, instead of letting her opinions substitute for facts.

The Oxford English Dictionary (to cite one respected source) has a copious list of applications for the word creole, some of them relating to blacks in other countries, but notes, "In the U.S., it is applied only to the French-speaking descendants of the early French settlers in Louisiana, etc." This, to be sure, undoubtedly includes many blacks, but more whites. Ms. Younghouse's Louisiana heritage literally goes back centuries, and those recipes really are a part of her own family lore; creole cooking is a regional cuisine, and not race specific. To accuse her and her family of having stolen recipes is simply malicious.

Perhaps Ms. Scudder considers the OED and its editors racist, coconspirators in a fiendish plot to "whitewash" the most admirable traits of black culture. If she thinks of network television as an educational tool, I wouldn't put it past her. In any case, there are a thousand targets more worthy of her antiracist zeal and ire than this article.

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