Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 21

Correction of a Falsified Image 17 prejudices o f the present can be traced back to those o f the past and actually find explanation in the former aristocratic mindset and perception o f the colony’s indigenous and enslaved people as inferior, if not savage. To ensure order in a city that was populated by many different cultures and races, strict regulations were put into place by the 54 articles o f Louisiana’s Code Noir (1724). This document, which relied on the Code Noir that was originally created under Louis XIV in 1685, regulated all “relations between masters and slaves” and made it “imperative on masters to impart religious instruction to their slaves” (Louisiana ’s Code Noir online). In relation to the practice but also the perception o f Voodoo, two o f the 57 articles are important. According to Article II o f the Code Noir, all slaves had to be instructed “dans la religion catholique, apostolique et romaine et baptises” (in the Catholic faith and baptized) (Le Code Noir online). According to Article III, “tous exercices d’autre religion que de la catholique, apostolique et romaine” (the practice o f any other religion than the Catholic one) was forbidden (Le Code Noir online). The same article forbids slaves to assemble for any reason, an idea that found a more detailed outline in Article XIII o f the Code. Here it is stated that all slaves were restrained “de s ’attrouper le jour ou la nuit, sous pretexte de noces ou autrement, soit chez Tun de leurs maitres ou ailleurs, et encore moins dans les grands chemins ou lieux ecartes” (to gather either by day or by night, under the pretext o f a wedding or for any other reason, neither at the house o f their masters nor somewhere eise, and much less on busy streets or in secluded places) (Le Code Noir online). Whereas secretive gatherings, during which enslaved Africans practiced their spiritual traditions, provided the oppressed with “a vital means o f mental and emotional resistances to [their] bitter hardship,” the same innocent gatherings, when detected, where perceived as a threat to order and social values by the French and Spanish colonizers (Bultman 148). Hence, they were suppressed. Disrespect o f the articles led to corporal punishment that, in the case o f reoccurring offences, could lead to the offenders being branded with the fleur-de-lys or being judged with Capital punishment. Even though the French colonizers had an enormous influence on the modern mi