Month: February 2014

What is the Jamaican culture?

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How could one determine or define the Jamaican experience, both as a native and a foreigner? (I purposely put foreigner because that’s how I want Google to find this)

This question came to mind after a discussion I was having with my brother about the Jamaican way of life or doing things; how a simple thing such as joining a line in a bank can be a whole day experience; may end up being a kiss teeth and a phone call to your favorite teller or bank manager or even security guard.
But mostly the question came up after I posted an article that was published in the Gleaner Online on February 5. on Facebook. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140205/cleisure/cleisure11.html
Of which some people are still upset with me about that. (I just posted it, I didn’t write…but I agree with what the author was saying).

I was arguing in my comments, not that Tessanne doesn’t have talent, but the fact that she won a reality TV talent show that could have been decided in one night…OK maybe two.
So after repeatedly telling people to “come kiss out mi mouth” (another part of our colorful expressive culture), I thought…hmmm…”maybe this is also part of our culture’

What aspect of our culture?
You might be wondering: Our “Bandwagonry” of course!
Jamaican Bandwagonry has driven many emerging markets, surrounded by a fad or phenomenon which might be documented on a cave wall somewhere; but once everybody or some foreigner recognizes it’s worth, selfies with the person fade in the background and pictures of “when we were young” at a 4year old birthday party appear on people’s timeline like Measles.

20140213-024646.jpgThe sale of flags, pins, T-shirts, bandannas and other brand Jamaica items, mass produced by the Chinese of course and effectively pushed by the sales team of UHAUnited Higglers of All over, associated with the EAFEat A Food coalition pop up all over.
Bob Marley, Usian bolt and now Tessanne, (I call it the Noah syndrome…) have all benefited from this marketing tool (benefited…Ha!)
Saving Goat Island could really get some needed help with this marketing machinery but alas it doesn’t affect curry goat sales so…

Now this need to be in the midst of the what’s going on trait is something I’ve always wondered about….for example:

Running towards where gunshots are being fired, not away from them.

One person yells fight! and that’s where everyone will be found (and they aren’t there to break it up)

“If the US sneezes, Jamaica catches the flu” – everything that’s popular or semi popular in the United States will be popular here…so much that it’s close the ridicule (who wears fur boots in the tropics?).

The “Jamaican born” title, especially in cases of negative representation is quickly placed on a person even though their great granny wrote “jam” and ” I can” in a sentence well over 50yrs ago. This is done mostly by outsiders thou.

Another question is: Are we just too passionate in the things we do, not only while giving praise but in disagreement?

How we express ourselves through language, attire, music and even in a simple greeting, where actual names have become optional but instead highlights your most noticeable or not so noticeable attributes (names like Blacks, Dry Foot Kim, Big Titty Tara, Browning, 2mins-Tony).

The fact that we can easily be classified as the coolest and the angriest set of people at the same time further divides us, along with the labels of; Rich, Middle class, Poor, Black, White, Mr Chins, Indians, Bleachers, Gully, Gaza, Slimmaz vs Mampy vs Fat people in denial (fat girls in skinny girls’ clothes)

This further complicates my question…who are we as a people?
Are we just one thing, a pick and mix of some of these things or are we all and everything, truly Out of many, One people?

I would love to know your thoughts and/or definition of what you personally think the Jamaican culture is.

And I’m deleting any “Land of Wood & Water” responses. 🙂

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