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Jamaican Stereotypes I Actually Agree with

Posted by Kaycia Farquharson on

Smiling Jamaican women riding a motorcycle

We all do it. How many times have we seen someone and within a few moments we conclude: “He/She must be a Jamaican!” It could be that swag in his walk, it could be her well coordinated and fashion forward outfit, or the distinctive rhythm of his speech. There are so many stereotypes attributed to us. Some largely accurate, others are definitely true, but for a select (and often small) group of Jamaicans (but maybe the most visible). Others are simply urban legends, spread by the media, movies, songs and cannabis infused stories.

Some Jamaicans get all up in arms when they are stereotyped, but it's not always negative nor totally false. I’ll share my very informed opinion (by virtue of my being Jamaican) on a few that are actually true.

1. Jamaicans are always late – For work, not so much. We’re not going to jeopardize our bread and butter just so. In fact, we’re well respected for our superb work ethics. For parties, church, weddings, funerals, graduations and just about every other social gathering; you can count on it!

2. Jamaicans abroad work really hard – It’s not chicken feed to send barrel(s) of food, clothing and other essentials back home every Christmas. Not to mention the regular trips to Western Union to fund the various expenses detailed during the frequent phone calls to home. Further, almost every Jamaican working abroad has a dream to build a nice, big house in the land of their birth.

3. Jamaicans are loud – I prefer to think of us as being expressive, passionate and colorful. Talk the truth, isn’t conversing with a Jamaican way more entertaining because of our body language, facial expressions and yes, slightly elevated volume? When we watch television, our neighbors six houses down can determine which program we have on. When we listen to music, even when we wear earphones, those in our immediate vicinity can rock to the beat. Everything just has more vibes when we crank up the volume a little bit (alright, a lot!)

4. Jamaican are happy – Yep. Pure and simple. See, we Jamaicans “nu mek nutten bodda we” (Don’t make anything bother us). When faced with challenges we usually “Tek it to di Lord in prayer” (Take it to the Lord in prayer). We see the glass as half full hence we declare, “It coulda worse!” (It could be worse!).  And we're always hopeful about our future circumstances and believe wholeheartedly that “betta mus come!” (It must get better!). Because of this, we have a warm, ready smile, a quick wit and an easy going nature.

5. Jamaicans are resourceful – We have to be. Many of us come from very humble backgrounds, but we have big dreams. You see, sacrifice plays a huge part in this resourcefulness. Parents do without so their children can get a good education. They work (several) back breaking jobs and save almost every dollar to build the future they desire. Many Jamaicans live by the saying, “If yuh waan good, yuh nose affi run,” (If you want good, your nose has to run). Parents teach their children to “tun yuh han mek fashion” (Turn your hands to make fashion). Meaning, to get creative with whatever you have and make something better.

As for whether all Jamaicans are black, smoke marijuana, are Rastafarians, are poor, only listen to reggae music, only speak patois, are womanizers/man-stealers; I believe all those myths have been sufficiently debunked. Anyway, what do you say? Which generalization(s) about Jamaicans do you agree with?

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