I was born in the states, but raised by Jamaican parents. All of my extended family is Jamaican as well. As an Air Force “brat,” I was surrounded by several other kids whose parents original origin of birth wasn’t the U.S. I grew up with a Jamerican experience while being raised in the south.
As an adult no longer surrounded by other military families, I have settled with my family south Georgia. Many people I encounter live close to family, and have for generations. This highlights the stark differences between my Jamerican upbringing and theirs. I notice it even more as I compare my parenting with other southern moms.
Here are a few things I have noticed about my Jamaican parenting:
I Love Jamaican Food
There are no international markets near me, so when I want to eat Jamaican food or season my food with Jamaican spices, I have to ask my mother to purchase for me, get it from Atlanta, or my grandmother mails it to me from up north. Sometimes I just have a craving for authentic Jamaican food!
Once when my uncle came to visit from New Jersey, I cried because he ate the last bit of ackee and saltfish (national dish). I didn’t know when we would have a chance to eat it again, and I thought it was unfair because he ate it all the time in New Jersey.
I Am Resilient
There’s a joke that you are a lazy Jamaican if you only have 1 job. There have been many times in my life that I’ve worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time. I’ve learned how to work hard and persevere through tough times. Both of my parents grew up poor, but worked hard through those tough times. They have instilled that in me-the ability to be resilient and not give up when times get tough. Every generation has a hope of making things easier for the next, but I hope that my children will still learn the value of hard work and resilience.
Love of Music
Jamaicans love to sing…all..the..time!
My mother sent me to Jamaica a few times as a toddler, but the first time I remember was in July 2010. All the resort staff was singing, as well as people in the community. I felt such a connection to my roots! Now it made sense to me why I have always done that. My husband used to make fun of me, but now he has embraced that part of my culture-and our kids do too!
Desire To Keep Culture of Jamaica Alive
Growing up, I always remembered my parents being friends with other Jamaicans, or people from other islands. Eating Jamaican food & listening to reggae makes me feel at home wherever I am. I want to make sure that my girls take pride in our Jamaican family.
When my husband & I married, it was important to me that he had a love of my culture. I remember him playing Bob Marley on the way to a date & thinking, “This relationship is off to a good start!”
Acceptance of Diversity
Jamaica’s motto is Out of many one people. No matter the skin color, if you were born in Jamaica, you are a Jamaican. I have met many Jamaicans of different ethnicity, but the culture, the food and the music tie them all together. This is a bit tougher in the south because people are hyper focused on race. I hope that my children will be able to see past race and relate to people on other levels.
Diedre Anthony is a full time school counselor, mother and wife. In her blog Are Those Your Kids? , she focuses on her experiences of raising her biracial girls in an interracial marriage. Her posts are filled with helpful tips about raising children, diversity, curly hair as well as entertaining stories, and anecdotes. Several of her posts have been published by the Huffington Post. You can find her on twitter @rthoseyourkids and facebook @are those your kids.