I am a Jamaican but…
I have many friends across the world and I always look forward to meeting new ones. One of the things that really bugs me is that when I tell foreigners that I’m Jamaican, they immediately stereotype me. The sad but funny thing about this is that the stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Stereotyping me or any other Jamaican for that matter is like saying that a girl is fat because she eats a lot. After all, we have skinny people who eats way too much but never seem to put on an ounce.
So here goes, I’m Jamaican but…
- I can’t dance to save my life: There ain’t no shame in this game. I lack co-ordination when it comes to dancing. Growing up, my younger sister was the dancer while I was the “bookworm”. The few times I have had to perform, I either got my family rolling with laughter or the wall and I got in tune as I rocked to the beat of the music. I don’t go beyond rocking! So when someone ask me to dance because of my “Jamaican-ness”, I do nothing but laugh because my Jamaican-ness did not ensure my dancing capabilities.
- I don’t have dreadlocks: I have natural hair. I will afro it. I will twist it. I will rope it. I will cornrow it. I will bun it but I will never lock it. I prefer the challenge of combing my hair to it being stuck in locks and styling from there. In fact, dreadlocks are a style normally favoured by Rastafarians and I can assure you that Jamaica is not full of Rastas.
- I don’t curse: Personally I find using colourful language to be disrespectful and distasteful. I’ve often found it strange that this type of language is celebrated as self-expression and used to convey emotions. Frankly the words themselves have no meaning. I must admit that I generally find it amusing when foreigners think that acting Jamaican means that they have to use our colourful manner of cursing.
- Mi nuh chat straight patois: So the Jamaican Patois is celebrated worldwide and whilst I have no problem with it, I can’t speak undiluted patois, I tend to mix it with English. Over the years my ability has improved but I used to get laughed at by my Jamaican friends when I attempted the language. I am only able to manage a passable version when I get really excited and even then it sounds really strange coming from my mouth. I usually take comfort in the fact that my American and English friends sound worse than I do.
- I’m not always aggressive or loud-mouth: I have always hated the way how not just Jamaican women but black women as a whole are sometimes portrayed in movies. One of my most favourite movies is Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s Just Go With It. In it, for comedic effect, they had this scene where a pregnant black woman (with a face contorted by anger) is seen running down a little boy with a “I’m gonna kill you” expression after he tossed a drink in her face. Why is it that the black women are always portrayed as being loud-mouth and aggressive when this is not particularly true? We may get loud when we are excited but who doesn’t? We may get a bit aggressive when we are truly threatened or angry but again, who doesn’t?
- I don’t know any of Bob Marley’s songs in its entirety: I understand that Bob Marley is a popular figure in Jamaica’s history and has made a great contribution to the country in terms of gaining international recognition but I can’t fathom why persons believe that because I am Jamaican that I should know his songs. The Beatles are famous to the Americans but you certainly don’t hear me asking my American friends to sing me a Beatles song…I’m like you, I sing out loud when the song reach the part I know then start humming foolishness when the part is gone.
- I’m not a fan of dancehall: This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I am a Christian. I didn’t like dancehall before I got baptised and my dislike hasn’t improved since. I especially find the songs that describe women by calling them all sorts of derogatory terms to be very distasteful. I won’t even get into the ones that talk about killing or the ones that take the intimacy out of sex and make it something dirty.
- I’m not a die–hearted fan of track and field: My friends think I am crazy when I say this but it’s true. I know Jamaica has Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and everyone gets in a swoon when they are about to run but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all team Jamaica and I like that fact that they win but I don’t have to watch the race to feel pleased.
So there you have it, I am a Jamaican but…. Jamaicans are all unique in our own little ways. Don’t try to clump us together like we are clay. We all have different personalities and likes and dislikes. I’m sure not all Scots play the bag-pipe and wear kilts. Have you ever been stereotyped because of your nationality? Tell me how, hit me up by commenting below.
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I am a dynamic young lady who loves the Lord and seek to have a joy that no one can take away. My all-time favourite thing to do is gaining discoveries by design from My Father during our time each day. Reading, learning and trying new things falls behind in a close second place. My dream is to use my God-given talents to positively impact as many people as possible. As a proud Wolmerian, with a zest for life, I adhere to the “Age Quod Agis” motto in that whatsoever I do, I always do it to the best of my ability.
I really loved this article Chan! I smiled and laughed throughout 😀 It is so true that we are stereotyped by all these that you pointed out and more. 🙂
Do you live in Jamaica though? If yes, then do you think of yourself as a deviant in your society or do these same points apply to many other Jamaicans aswell?
I’ve lived in Jamaica all my life and no, I don’t consider myself a deviant. Many of these points apply to others as well. Jamaicans are generally seen as a generalization of what is projected on the international level, however persons need to understand that we though we are Jamaicans, we are all individuals with eclectic tastes. We cannot be judged on the premise that Jamaica is re-known for reggae and dancehall or track and field and thus all Jamaicans like these things. This deduction is faulty.
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Ok. So it’s just biased media and people being prejudiced. I wonder if we will ever be able to solve that.
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Probably not, people will always see and believe what they want to see and believe.
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OK, I was laughing #1! Lol I can totally relate to this post though.. 🙂
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Lol I laugh at #1 as well, the sad but funny truth 🙂