Skin Deep: Kelsea Auguillard
Skin Deep is a mini interview series by Zoe Njemanze aimed at highlighting the diverse background of people who fall under the classification of “black." Often times, it is forgotten that black is not restricted to African-Americans or Africans. These women have gracefully shared their stories, providing us a window into their history, upbringing, and culture.
My name is Kelsea Auguillard and I’m from Lafayette, Louisiana. I'm currently a second year public health major. I am interested in women's health, sexual education, and overall sexual health education and promotion. After graduating, I would like to get a Master's in public health, and work for either the CDC or Health and Human Services as a Public Health Analyst. I enjoy eating, specifically Italian food (Maggiano’s Little Italy? More like Little Heaven.) I like playing video games (has anyone peeped the new Sims Vampire expansion pack?) I spend my weekends exploring Austin with my boyfriend and ya know, kicking his butt at Mortal Kombat.
What is your heritage (briefly summarize family tree, family history, etc)?
Both of my parents are from Lafayette, Louisiana. My maternal side is a combination of African-American, Mexican, and Native American cultures. My paternal side is a mixture of African-American and French cultures. My father's family started when his French ancestors traveled from France to Nova Scotia in the 1600s. My mother's family started when Severin Lopez, my four times great grandfather, traveled from Mexico to Louisiana and married a Choctaw Indian named Moon Noon.
Did you have to use Ancestry.com or any form of DNA testing to figure out your heritage?
Yes. However, I am fortunate enough to have a family that is able to remember its history. My father decided to do some digging of his own to gather more information. I can now trace my paternal family to the 17th century, when they first began to travel from France to Nova Scotia.
How would you describe your culture? (food, music, dress, dance, etc.)
My cultural food consists of dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya, as well as more general meals that include meats and rice. I think soul food encompasses much of creole food. Musically, my culture is famous for Zydeco, which blends blues, R&B, and indigenous Creole music. There are dances to go along with music, they are usually partner dances, similar to a fast paced swing-out. There is no specific cultural dress, however during Mardi Gras, creoles with ties to Native American tribes dress as Mardi Gras Indians during the parades. These costumes are generally full of feathers and bright colors, and are accompanied by similarly decorated spears and shields.
What cultural events or holidays do you celebrate?
I celebrate Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. People of my culture predominantly practice either Christianity or Catholicism, and Mardi Gras serves as the final party before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of lent.
What do you want the world to know about your culture/people?
Creole and Cajun are not the same thing! There's a difference.
How do you feel about being classified as black?
I am a black woman -- but I am also a creole woman. They are not mutually exclusive. I am a part of both groups. I am influenced and affected deeply by both groups. While the classification of black is accurate, I feel like it doesn't account for the rich heritage and effect of the creole culture on my life and family. I am currently enrolled in French classes to better communicate with older family members and feel closer to my French heritage.