Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Generation, Rules the Nation

Jamerican: A conjunction of Jamaican American, (or North American- depending on perspective); first coined and made popular by the Brooklyn based rap group “Born Jamericans” signifying their Jamaican parenting and American birth and upbringing. Since then it has evolved to include a delineation of Jamaican and American combinations. All of which are designed to reflect American distinction rooted in Jamaican pride and culture. The delineations can be identified in the following levels: LEVEL ONE: Born on the island of Jamaica, partially or predominately raised on the island, then migrated abroad; have become acclimated and comfortable with a number of American cultural commonalities, (like street food); may now only have an accent; and are proud of the strives that they have made abroad, but will retire “A Yard” – “Da Yah Long Time” LEVEL TWO: Is the largest and most inclusive population. (This level is the driving force that keeps the loving spirit of Jamaica international). May be born on the island of Jamaica but predominantly raised abroad OR born abroad but of Jamaican lineage (this may be one or more parents) and raised with a strong Jamaican hand (literally). –

Our evolution is not always a shortcoming; it is sometimes the bane of our existence, our calm in the storm, or motivation to keep on going. However, we have certainly evolved. Bred from parents who are predominately Jamericans themselves—the question is—what have we evolved into?

Caribbean flags—not only those yellow, black, and green—drape from the pockets of overtly eager young adults who’ve come to the parkway to lay claim to a country they weren’t born in but feel their summer vacations entitle them to. I can relate. I am one of them. What is the true meaning of a “Jamerican?” Is it the immigrant who becomes Americanized through adaptation—as Urban Dictionary seems to suggest—or the offspring of an adopted citizen who only shows traces of their culture when around native tongue? The answer is, we all are.

There are two instances that come to mind when I hear the word “Jamerican”: 1) The statement, “My household was strict, my parents are Caribbean.” 2) The frequent commentary/question of, “You’re not Caribbean. Where exactly were you born?” Both instances are quite the nuisance. Although my parents are the product of rule stricken households with immigrant mothers for wardens, they’ve never passed along the tradition. Brown stew chicken and ackee frequented my dining room table but scrubbing floors and cooking three course meals were never added to my chore list. During the evolution of the Jamerican, there has been a vast shift for some, if not most. Immigrant parents who were sticklers for religion, cleanliness, and lastly academics have produced children who’ve flipped the priorities. My mother and father struggled to finance their way through school to create a meaningful life for their offspring. Such a life would be free from the extreme hardships and trials they had to bear at every stage of their own lives. Academics were top priority, a few chores had to be done before Saturday romping, and church was an option. My parents were the first of their families to experience more than one sort of socialization. They weren’t only brought up among the preacher’s hand and their mother’s tone but, had the chance to delve into a world of philosophies.

A revolution occurred somewhere along the line. It was decided that the “more Americanized” children would have a say in their schooling, religious beliefs (when old enough to form them), and allowed to speak up for themselves (also known as chatting back).

Grandmothers hissed their teeth loud enough for China to hear as young boys and girls everywhere started to speak when they were NOT spoken to. We became referred to as “this generation” or “these pickney.” We had evolved. Our parents had learned quickly that doctors and lawyers were not the only professions placed on pedestals and whispered to us, soft enough for grandmother’s fading hearing, “You can be anything you want to be.” We did just that. We became speakers, actors, writers, philosophers, singers, and poets. Some of us became the struggling inspiration for such professions, but aren’t we all of one human race? Don’t we all love the same, sweat similarly, and wear our pride high enough for angels to see?

I may never be able to make black cake in the perfect state my mother and grandmother are privy to but, I will always have a legacy to indulge in. I will tell my children hand-me-down stories of climbing mango trees, auntie’s house in the country, and the market trips to town. I will cook authentic dishes placed into my memory by my mothers moving hands and a spatula. I will turn my boys into shreds of laughter with the sound clips from my father and his brothers’ antics along the Montego Bay coast. I will bring my husband to tears with the stories I was never quite old enough to hear but knew anyway. Am I not Caribbean too? Aren’t we?



dparrish2003 said...

Thank God you didnt have to work like that growing up. Dont get me wrong, a little of that would have hurt but I think your parents choose the right paths to bring you up the best way possible. Tell em' I said hi!

sunnysideup said...

That was perfectly stated and i agree with your 2 levels of "Jamaricanism." Makes me think about friends of past. Haha... oh boy.


Unknown said...

"there has been a vast shift for some, if not most. Immigrant parents who were sticklers for religion, cleanliness, and lastly academics have produced children who’ve flipped the priorities."

i couldn't agree more with that statement.