Creoles of Color and Constructions of Race in Jim-Crow Houston
While most of the scholarship on Creoles of color focuses on Louisiana, this paper examines how Creole migrants affected local racial dynamics when they relocated to different states in the twentieth century. For example, some Houston Creoles practiced “discontinuous passing” to temporarily obtain the privileges of whiteness in segregated spaces. Yet they asserted their mixed-race subjectivity when they returned home to Frenchtown. These actions incensed black activists who thought the phenomenon of passing impeded racial progress. Furthermore, some black Houstonians charged that “colorism” affected relations between the Texans and Louisianans. Creoles of color did not remain isolated from black Texans, though. Exchanges between the groups inspired unique forms of cultural hybridity, like the zydeco music that emerged in the 1940s. Creoles’ relationships to their African American neighbors, and in some cases, the growing population of ethnic Mexicans, demonstrate the complexities of race in migration cities where different groups made contact.
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