I’m not one of those people who can identify where someone is from just by looking at them. I hate when people ask me to guess where they are from because I honestly have no clue. I’m always amazed by those who can look at someone and pick up on the mannerisms and connect them to specific countries.
I remember growing up constantly saying “pardon” whenever my grandad spoke to me and my siblings. Only picking up on one or two of the words, through his strong Jamaican accent. My dad would be there saying “grandads talking to you“… how could I answer when I didn’t even understand what the question was?
After years of pretending to know what my grandad was saying, I started to pay close attention when he was talking. I was no longer pretending, I actually knew what he was saying and could have a conversation with this amazing man I get to call my grandad.
It never bothered me until I got older and noticed how in tune everyone else around me was with their culture. Friends laughing and joking about common phrases and words used in African homes. When I couldn’t even understand my grandad asking me if I was alright.
The anxiety that would arise when someone learnt that I am Jamaican, which was then followed by “speak in patois then“.
I didn’t understand what it meant to be Caribbean. Never being to Jamaica meant I felt a disconnect and to this day still feeling that same disconnection. Especially around family who embraced the language, food, music and culture.
Being asked “do you know this song, by so and so?” Thinking if it ain’t by Aaliyah or Chris Brown, then no.
If I was asked “what does it mean to be Jamaican?” I probably would have come out with the same response as a non-Caribbean person with a very limited amount of knowledge. Something along the lines of; Whining, Jerk Chicken, Reggae, Rum and Dreadlocks.
In a strange position where I am not necessarily proud to be British, but I probably seem more British than Jamaican.
Notting Hill Carnival gives me the opportunity to feel closer to my roots. The music, colours and costumes it all makes me feel so proud.
When asked what my favourite bashment song was, I couldn’t even answer. I thought it was all about sex and I didn’t understand what was being said half of the time so I avoided the genre all together. It has always been dancehall over bashment for me.
I hope that when I eventually visit Jamaica, It can help me understand myself better.
I know we are all African, so in the grand scheme of things does it really matter?
It definitely matters to me, just to have some basic knowledge and some experiences could help me feel secure in my identity. At the moment it’s a bit of a weird feeling.
I have recently started to question my identity and look deeper into it. Especially as I have noticed that a large majority of successful black people are African. I’m just speaking from what I have seen, I not sure what the statistics are.
This is such a random post, but it has been a reoccurring thought recently. I like sharing my random thoughts, someone reading this might feel the same way.