What Does a Jamaican REEEALLY look like?

The “Jamaican look”
Photo credit: traveladventures.org

A who tell people seh ALL Jamaicans are weed smoking Rastafarians that all say, “yah mon”; “no problem mon” and apparently don’t speak English?
Translation: Who spread the rumor that all Jamaicans are weed smoking Rastafarians that all say, “yah mon”; “no problem mon” and don’t speak English? Smh.

I remember a couple months ago I went to play basketball in a pretty Caucasian area. I think along with a friend of mine, the population of black guys in that gym was a grand total of two. Yes; just me and him (if you didn’t catch that). Anyway, after playing a couple games (and losing :/) I was on the sidelines just kinda chatting to the guys who were waiting to play again. It somehow came to a point where I revealed that I was Jamaican and had just moved to New Jersey a few months prior. After hearing this one of the guys exclaimed, with the most sincerity as that of an innocent 5 year old child,

“And you learned English that fast?!”
*record scratch*

Stick a whole heap a pin.

In my mind I’m like… -_______- a weh da yute yah come from man? Clearly not Jamaica. Probably the part of America that thinks all there is in the whole word is just America, and English is only spoken there. That must be it.
I just kinda shrugged it off, you know, because I’m nice, and I proceeded to inform him that English is the language of my country. I even went on to explain that we also spoke patois, which is just broken English (as most of you know), and I pointed out that depending on where people are from in Jamaica, it could influence how they speak; as you will find that people from rural areas usually don’t speak as well as those from the urban areas. Of course there are exceptions.

Anyway, it seems people in other countries don’t think we speak well… or English… I wonder why?

I’m no researcher, so I just share my thoughts and opinion. I probably should research, but mi cyaa bodda. One day, but not today. My guess regarding where the perception of a Jamaican’s image comes from is that the image people seem to have associated with us (as outlined in the opening remarks) probably came from Bob Marley and other popular Jamaican musicians; then everybody else in the world just ran with it and thought we all looked like that until they visited the country for themselves or saw other Jamaicans that looked different. After all, our music played a big part into the country’s foray into the global stage. Wait, did I just say foray? Do Jamaicans use that word? Let me go ask that guy. Although, truth be told, he probably wouldn’t know that word. But he would know that we live in Banana huts 🙂
For many people worldwide, they’ve dropped the thought that we’re all rastas, but I think many still think most of us smoke weed. They say that’s why we’re so calm and happy all the time. Obviously they never heard of Bounty Killa.

Photo credit: urbanislandz.com

People I talked to here in the states were actually really surprised by the way Tessanne Chin looks. Last year when she was on season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice”, that was probably the first time several Americans saw a Chinese Jamaican. I guess they forget that there are Chinese Americans here too. I think though that every Jamaican who watched would agree that she represented us extremely well with how she spoke and carried herself. Never for a moment did she not own up her ‘Jamaican-ness’ and it came through several times while the whole world watched,

It doesn’t help when our other stars *not calling any names, Usain Bolt* try to sound like Americans whenever the international cameras are in their faces. Although, in the latest Puma Ad on tv, the guy whose name I didn’t mention actually didn’t sound like he added an accent. Maybe he got the message.

In a somewhat unrelated point, I found it interesting to note that Patois really is another language, even if we only think of it as broken English, because when spoken around ‘normal’ English speakers, they are completely clueless as to what we’re saying! When you’re in another country surrounded by people who aren’t Jamaican and you’re in Jamaican company, try it. It’s fun! You can say to anybody who’s not Jamaican “look pan da ugly s’mady deh! eeeh eeeh! Him cyaa do sum’n wid dat deh hair pan him head? No sah! Him fi do betta man!” and they’ll be like: “uuhhhhh… what?”


Not just Jamaica

As was so emotionally and emphatically pointed out by two of my Dominican friends (as in, the Island in the Eastern Caribbean and not the Dominican Republic, i.e. Haiti’s neighbour in the Northern Antilles [another of their pet peeves]), MOST–not all, because of course I’m an exception–Jamaicans are apparently just as ignorant as the young man and other Americans I’ve encountered. They related experiences where people thought they lived in thatch houses and didn’t have running water and that stuff. Like everywhere not named *insert wherever you’re from here* is some poor third world country with nothing but rivers, mountains and forests. However, because I’m Jamaican and this is my blog, I get to talk about it and they don’t, unless they start their own 😛 (it’s probably not that important to them anyway).

Photo credit: http://www.kavionart.com

Jamaica’s motto is: “Out of many; One people!”
The country is made up of people who are/are descendants of Africans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Europeans and whatever other ethnicity you can think of. The same bodes for other countries in the world. It’s just for us to educate ourselves about other people–how they look, how they dress, their languages and culture, just as much as we’d want others to do the same with us.

Here’s a video just for kicks! Not meant to offend anybody, but it’s pretty funny!


3 thoughts on “What Does a Jamaican REEEALLY look like?

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