Marcelle Fontenot is an anchor at KATC TV-3. She’s a native of St. Landry Parish. Her story was captured as part of Voices of Race in Portrait, an exhibition by Conversation Starters that explores the experience of race in Acadiana through interviews and portraiture.
I was in the field as a reporter, working in Saint Landry Parish where I’m from. I was covering Mardi Gras, and I went out to a community that was having a boucherie. There were people, there was music. There were people everywhere. It was a great time. It was hard to say it was work, but it was, indeed, a day at work. We were having a wonderful time, and then I was approached.
This lady walked over to me and she’s, like, “Hi.” I’m, like, “Hi!” And she asked me how I was doing, and I said that I was fine and, you know, what a great day. And I’m going on and on about the event, and then she looks at me and says, “What are you doing here?”
And I was like, “Oh, I’m here covering this.” You know, my answer for what I was doing, right? And then she said, “No.” She said, “What are you doing here?” And I stepped back, and she turned and walked away, and I just stood there for a few minutes because it didn’t register, right?
And then in that moment, I looked around and I realize I’m the only black person out here. So, obviously, this is what she means by “what am I doing here,” right? And that was hard because I’m from there, you know? I’m a part of that community. I’m a part of this community, and it’s not something I ever noticed. And it affected me — it hit me different. Not that I thought I lived in a place where someone wouldn’t approach me and ask that very question, or many other questions, but it was a reality check.
I know, for me, I look for the good in everyone. You know, I can’t say I don’t see color because I think that’s a farce when people say, “Well we don’t look at color.” Right? No, you see color. It’s how you deal with it, or how you respond to it, and what you know about it. So yes, I see color but it’s never been an issue, but I realized that my color became an issue in my professional life very, very early on.
Marcelle’s story was facilitated by Brady McKellar and republished with permission. Voices of Race in Portrait is showing Feb. 8 – Feb. 29 at Acadiana Center for the Arts.