Ignorance and racism… at the same damn time 

Let me set the scene for y’all right quick… 

My mother, father, aunt and I went to the 22nd Count Your Blessings fundraiser. It’s held by St. Vincent de Paul – which is a local soup kitchen, shelter, pharmacy that is run based off donations and volunteers. The fundraiser is coordinated by the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Most people who attend are parishioners from one of the 33 churches. 

It was held at a Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Of the 300 attendees, most were white Catholics. Including the mayor, her husband, and the 4 of us – there were no more than 20 black people there. Most of the Catholic parishes are predominantly white. I believe there are only 3 that predominantly black. They are St. Francis Xavier, Immaculate Conception and St. Paul. 

*Google the word predominantly before you come disputing* 

Needless to say, I was used to this. I was one of 15 black girls in my graduating class of 198 at St. Joseph’s Academy. This was the most black girls the school ever graduated and the school opened in 1868. I graduated in 2008. 

The ticket/entry was $10 and a famous local chef, Chef John Folse made a simple meal. Soup, bread and water. I imagine this is what meals were like in the early days of the soup kitchen. 

Tonight’s meal was the “Soup of 4 Fishes” – which had crawfish, shrimp, crabmeat and redfish with a tomato base and heavy whipping cream.  

I had 2 bowls. Some people even brought to-go containers
 

But anyway… we were seated at a table. There was this elderly white woman who was maybe about 75 years old (you never know because black don’t crack) and her son already sitting down. 

I guess she was wondering, “how did the blacks find out about this event? And why did they come?” So she asked my mom a few questions. 

Lady: So what parish are y’all from? 

Mom: Oh, we’re Baptist.    

Lady: And y’all came to this event? 

Mom: Well, we support St. Vincent de Paul.  

Lady: Oh okay. 

Mom: Yes ma’am, our sorority volunteers every month in the soup kitchen serving lunch. And once we month, we also cook for the shelter in the evenings. My daughter has been volunteering there since she was 13. 

Lady: *eyes light up* OH WOW! Y’all do more than us. We don’t do any of that. 

Mom: Well, you know – we just do what we can. 

Lady: It must be expensive to cook for 300 people. 

Mom: During lunch, we serve the food that’s already cooked. And for dinner, one person will make the starch, another the vegetable, etc. 

Lady: That is so nice. 

Mom: Well, you know – we just do what we can. 

— 

Soon as the conversation ended, I texted our family group text. “You should have said, “St. Francis Xavier.” A few minutes later, I nudged my mom to read the message. OMG, you thought she was at a comedy show the way she fell out laughing. 

The whole conversation was rather uncomfortable and maybe it was just me but the vibe I got was “Who let the blacks in?” And it turns out that we volunteered with the community organization more than she did. And we aren’t even Catholic. 

It reminded me of the interaction on The Color Purple. The one Sophia had with that white woman in the city.  When she saw Sophia’s “clean” black children and asked her to work for her and be her maid. Only my mama didn’t say “Hell no” and get pistol whipped. 

As the event ended, she thanked us again for serving in the community. 

My aunt from New York with Chef John Folse. She never smiles in pictures. I’m glad I caught this moment
If you’re my Facebook friend or follow me on Snapchat or Instagram – this is where I saw the emoji dress.

Facebook: Let’s Bre Honest

Twitter: lets_bre_honest

Instagram: lets.bre.honest

Snapchat: yesimbree 

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