Rooted in San Rafael

October 2, 2018

Mary scrunches her face as if she just ate a sour candy. As her skin folds, I can see the questions floating through her mind. She admittingly blurts, “I don’t know how to spell it.” The words faux-bear are scribbled on the whiteboard.

Faubert sits in the metal throne of the Cafe, dressed in his black cloak with his name inscribed in a white thread over his left breast pocket. The cold and rigid seat supports flailing freshman but frames Faubert at the head of the table. Despite passing through the cafe daily, few students take the three seconds to glance at his monogrammed cloak to notice the unique configuration of letters: Faubert.

“Well, my father took every first initial of certain people in our family and came up with Faubert.  It actually comes from the French writer Flaubert.” Like Faubert’s name, he lives an intersectional, rich and busy life and yet still identifies with his San Rafael roots.

Faubert grew up off of Union St in San Rafael and raised by his mother, with whom he developed a special relationship, being an only child and considering his father passed away when he was only eight years old.  All points in his life revolved around his home. As a child, he biked to and from Coleman Elementary School. Faubert learned to navigate the careless drivers of Marin and make them aware of a small black boy cruising his way through San Rafael.  continued to bike to school when he was promoted to Davidson Middle School but, then switched out his wheels for sneakers when it came time to attend San Rafael High School. As Faubert reminisced on his high school days, a smile spreads across his face, his passion for baseball oozes from the creases in his face.  He recalled batting on the Marin Academy baseball field, formerly located on what is now the soccer field: “I thought the kids who went here were just the rich kids, snobby ya’know.”

The same two feet that wandered around the streets of San Rafael 20 years ago found themselves on the corner of Cottage and Mission St less than six months ago. Since working at MA and interacting with students, he softened his opinion: “The kids aren’t even like what you think; it’s not the case.” Faubert found himself back at Marin Academy after working as the Sous Chef at Branson for two years.  Epicurean offered him the elite title as Executive Chef here at MA. When receiving this offer via phone, he paused to consider. Faubert’s mom had just passed away recently in the senior home on the corner of MA. He sighed, “[I] had spent most of life with my mom; it was one of the most traumatic things that had happened in my life.”

His mom shared stories of how the color of her skin dictated her status in the Marin community.  Faubert stated, “She was spit on … That’s Marin.” His mom taught her son that, “You are not born racist; you are taught racism.”  This provided insight into the people who lived in Marin. Faubert clarified, “Racism has not gone anywhere; people just ignore it.”  Ultimately, he decided to take on this challenge and saw this as another step in his journey in Marin. 

Courtesy of Faubert Levasseur.
Faubert and Zachary relaxing at the beach.

Recently, Faubert moved from his house on D St into his fiancé’s home in Greenbrae.  He lives there with his fiancé, her father and her daughter, Olivia. Faubert’s biological son, Zachary, lives with his mother in Pescadero.  Faubert lamented that “he wants nothing to do with his father.” Zachary comes to Marin to spend time with his dad every other weekend. They get their haircut, watch movies and hang out.  Both of Faubert’s children are mixed. He confessed, “It’s interesting because both Zachary and Olivia are both black and white, but they both identify more with their Caucasian side and I always try to tell them to relate with both sides.”  

Growing up Haitian, Faubert struggled to navigate the intersectionality of his own identity of being raised in such a predominantly white community, like Marin. Even his own family did not see him as one of their own. He said, “I’ve always been the black sheep in my family… I didn’t talk with the slang… I didn’t present myself as ghetto.”  In an attempt to share his own stories of intersectionality with his children, Faubert finds himself shut out. Both, Zachary and Olivia, tend to lean more towards their view that, “there are good people and bad people.” Faubert said, “Race may not play a huge part in their lives at this moment, but that is why I try to educate them.”

They ARE mixed.  At one point in their life, the fact that they are black and white will come into play. And it’s not gonna be the white side, no offense, it’s who you associate yourself with.” Faubert frustratedly stated that it is hard for him not to project his own feelings onto his kids. He explained that if they do not face racism, that he hopes this is the case. In reality, Faubert is hyper-aware that less than 50 years ago, he would not be allowed to walk down the street holding hands with his fiancé.

Faubert chuckled as he considered his future and admitted that the date for wedding bells to be rung is still to be determined, then equivocate and with hope reveals, “maybe Hawaii…we’ll see.”

Faubert’s many connections to Marin Academy and the San Rafael community make him rooted here through his personal experiences and memories.  San Rafael is home.

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