The Louisiana Senate has passed legislation that would allow people to identify themselves as Cajuns on their driver's licenses.
I'm amused and intrigued by this for several reasons.
• Will one have to prove sufficient Cajun-ness to the DMV clerk? If so, how? Anecdotes? Original, long-form birth certificate? A test for accent along with the standard eye test? I suspect in many smaller DMVs, it would simply be a matter of answering the question, "Who's your momma?"
(I'm half Cajun myself — the recessive half, to be sure, but my mom's side is populated with LeBlancs and Champagnes. Is blood enough, or must one live the life as well? I don't like crawfish. Am I already disqualified? So many questions!)
• Many Cajuns, like south Louisianans in general, openly resent minority and immigrant pride. Sure, they'll say that the Cajun culture must be passed down and preserved, because at one time forced assimilation nearly caused its extinction. That's absolutely true. But when another culture asserts itself, those same people ask, "Why can't they just be Americans?"
I'd be interested in seeing how far a bill proposing "Black Pride" or "Orgullo Mexicano" on licenses would go in the legislature. Probably not as far as the options "preaux-life," "Tiger fan," "good for business," "Copiloting with Jesus," "PC Offender," "Git-R-Dun" and "registered coonass."
• Louisiana legislators in 2008 declared that the state would not comply with the Real ID Act. Because of this, airports and some federal buildings soon will no longer allow non-compliant Louisiana driver's licenses as valid ID for entrance. I got my passport card yesterday, and I'm still having to explain why, because most people (even some city workers) seem unaware that this is the case. Between this and the Cajun measure, a lot of proud residents will soon try to board a flight, only to hear, "This is not acceptable ID, cher." Yay for state priorities!
• Hopefully, the state will take this one step further and customize license plates. Cajun pride may be in the blood, but a plate that screams "DRINKER" tells me what I really want to know about that driver's blood.