Growing up, I always called myself a Jamerican.
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.
I call myself Jamerican : the amalgamation of American and Jamaican culture infused within me. Click To Tweet
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.