In March 2012, I logged onto a free blogging website and wrote:
“This blog is my attempt to chronicle my research. My hope is to help as many people as I can find their roots while exploring my own.”
At the time, I was too embarrassed to use my own name and struggled to find a name for the blog. After a little thought, I decided on “The Creola Genealogist”.
It seemed perfect… at the time. The term “Creola” perfectly embodied with “what” and “who” I was trying to connect- my roots as a “Creola”- a descendant of this mix of “Portuguese and African” people… as I had been told all my life.
In the years since, I have grown to hate this descriptor of my ancestral identity, as if the country of Portugal and the CONTINENT of Africa held equal stature…??? I have been perpetuating a definition that honored the European side in its specificity and dishonored the African side in its ambiguity.
At the time, I also considered “Creola” to be a term of endearment used to describe the women of Cabo Verde without understanding that Portuguese/Spanish colonizers called their offspring with Enslaved Africans “Criolos” derived from the word “criar” or “to breed”. In this way, there is very little difference between “creole” and “mulatto”- derived from “little mule” in Portuguese. Creole is a term of acculturation and assimilation which requires the belief in the superiority of one people over the other. In this case, the superiority of the Portuguese over the Enslaved African. To agree with this is to believe that there is something inherently wrong with my African side and to relegate my ancestors to the status of a breed of animal.
I reject both!
My words should not be taken as an indictment of my “Caboverdeanidade” but as an act of love for my ancestors and my people.
I love Cabo Verde and I love that I am a child of Cape Verdean immigrants. I love Cape Verdean history and genealogy. I love the people of Cabo Verde and the diaspora. I want to continue to share its history and be a witness to that history through my blog and FB pages.
And that is why I cannot, in good conscience, continue to use language that perpetuates a horrific part of our history that continues to manifest itself in our communities today in the form of racism, colorism and any other -ism.
And so, on this day, the 45th anniversary of Cabo Verde’s independence from Portugal, I am declaring myself independent of the term “Creola”!
I haven’t found a replacement name for the blog and I am not in a rush to find one right now. But I would like some feedback and suggestions for what I should rename the blog and FB pages.
*** I have been getting feedback on my use of the definition of “to breed” for “criar”. My broader point on the word being used as a term of acculturation and assimilation is being lost in this. I could remove this sentence but would it really change my argument? Would it negate the fact that there is a sense that our “proximity to ‘being Portuguese’” for some of us, captured by the use of the word, creole, feeds into the narrative that we are somehow “better” than people who have no European mixture? Were Creoles not treated differently than people who were not mixed and referred to as “Badius”? Perhaps, regardless of the origins of the word, I should have only pointed out that the racist history of HOW the word was used in creating this narrative would have been more acceptable. But it still does not change my decision to not use the word to title my blog or FB pages.