Black Creoles of Louisiana - Marriage and Family

Marriage within the Catholic church usually takes place during the partners' teens and early twenties. Among upper-caste Creole families, a marriage into a similar status family or with a White may be regarded as successful. As social boundaries with African-Americans are increasingly blurred, marriage outside the Creole community in this direction can serve as an affirmation of connection to the Black American mainstream. Because Louisiana civil law derives in part from the Napoleonic Code, common-law marriage based on a period of cohabitation is generally accorded legal status. There is a tendency to stay within or near Creole settlements and Neighborhoods. In rural areas, families may divide land to assist a new couple. Childbearing is encouraged and families with an agrarian base are large by American standards. Extended families in close proximity allow for mutual child rearing with assistance from older girls. Widowed elders often reside with children and grandchildren. Within the domestic sphere, much respect is accorded women and elders who emphasize values of self-improvement through church attendance, education, and hard work. Young men may challenge these values of respectability by associating outside family settings with people in bars and dance halls, and in work situations with other men. Creole men in groups may assert their reputation as great lovers, sportsmen, cooks, dancers, talkers, and workers, but over time they are expected to settle into a respectable home life. Much is made of the distinction between individuals who choose the street and club life over home and church life.


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