Jamaica is more than weed, white sand beaches and big-dick art pieces. Jamaica is life!
I am from Jamaica, so I would definitely say that. I bet that is what you are saying. The truth is Jamaica does hold a special place in my heart, but even if it was not my homeland, I would appreciate it just the same.
The island has come a far way from the days of slavery and its British colonial roots to now be the owner of one of the world’s most potent cultures. It is a culture that is non-ubiquitous, vibrant, colorful, full of life, unapologetic and subtly theatrical. One that pulls you in whether you are from Hobbit land in New Zealand or a small town in Morocco. The culture is potent, heart catching and leaves an indelible mark on you.
Despite all the things Jamaica is known for, many of them are overshadowed and misconstrued by many a misconceptions and stereotypes. So let us take a trip to my island and quash some of those misrepresentations >>>
Not every Jamaican smokes weed
I have lived in the United States for 5 years, and whenever I meet people, the first thing they assume is that I smoke weed. Even if I do not smoke it, I must know the amazing effects it has on the mind and body, because I am from Jamaica. It is almost a badge of shame to come from the island and have never been around the herb, worst yet, not smoke it. The reality is, even though it has become super prevalent in many culture and sub-cultures in recent years, Jamaica’s included, not everyone there smokes weed. The attachment and connection between Jamaica and weed came about through the popularity of Rastafarianism on the island. The community is a big advocate of the herb and with world icons like Bob Marley having been purveyors of its benefits, Jamaica rose to the top in the “weed hall of fame.”
Bottom line: A huge percentage of Jamaicans do not smoke weed. Of course, we all know someone who does, but that does not mean everyone is sitting on beaches all day digging out their palms and saying “irie.”
Not every Jamaican is related to Bob Marley
This must be the next high ranking question after the weed one. Once you come from Jamaica or even have the slightest of ties to the island, you must be related to Bob Marley. Even if not by blood, you should know his grandfather’s aunt’s niece’s uncle who died in 1935. It is not enough that you happen to just be born on the same island as him, but you must share his bloodline. After all, he is the biggest thing from the island since sugar cane and weed.
Bottom line: Bob Marley and his ancestors did not have that much seed to spread.
Almost every Jamaican home has a TV like anywhere else
During the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic games, Jamaica dominated the scene with stars like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Anne Frazer. Jamaicans back at home were engulfed with excitement and took to the streets in celebration. They congregated in squares and town centers especially around semi-finals and finals events to watch their girls and boys win. These races would be shown on huge projection screens set up in these places and huge crowds would gather to chant, party and rally around their team.
Images would circulate across major news networks and social media around the world, and of course the speculation started. Why are they gathered in a square to watch a race? Do they not have televisions at home? Are they that poor? Which graduated to definite statements like “Jamaicans are so poor they cannot even afford televisions.”
This could not have been farther from the truth. Like most countries in the Western Hemisphere, Jamaica has a growing economy with enough working people for most of them to afford a television set. It was such an insult for that to even be implied. People gathered in the squares just like they do in even developed countries to participate in the community vibe of it all and have something to smile about.
Bottom line: Televisions are not that expensive to only be a first world luxury.
We do not say “Yea mon”
I am learning French, and I can imagine how I must sound when I try to imitate the French accent and language to a native speaker. Like an idiot, in most cases I am sure. Hence, I can relate when someone comes to me with the same pretentious nonsense. Almost everywhere I have been or worked, once someone discovers my nationality they immediately begin to imitate how they think my language sounds based on impersonations from movies and songs.
Miss Cleo, the clairvoyant or Tae Diggs in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, for which the impersonations are so off, are popular ones. They hit you with the “Yea mon” and “Everything irie mon,” as if Jamaicans walk around saying these phrases in place of “yes” and “no” everyday. It is even worst when they ask if English is Jamaica’s first language? Stupid!
Bottom line: No one in Jamaica says “Yea mon” we say “Yea man.” Also, our first language is English, but we have our own native dialect which is referred to as Patois (a mixture of broken English, broken French and even broken Spanish, do not ask me how).
Jamaica is more than stereotypes. It is an island carved out of hardship, wars, rebellion and resilience, but it has grown to become a dominant force in world culture without even knowing it. It still has its demons to battle and a lot of growth to do, but I am proud of my island and happily call it my homeland. The people, music, culture, flora and fauna make Jamaica a must visit.
Do you know any Jamaica stereotypes?