15 Things You Can Only Understand When You Grow Up Jamerican

By Amari D. Pollard

We may have never lived in Jamaica, but we claim the country as if it’s one of our limbs.

Since we were raised by Jamaicans, it was only natural for us to connect more with that culture. And because of that growing up in America—in a completely different society—was always interesting.

You were always caught between balancing two cultures, and often felt like you did or said things differently because the people around you didn’t fully understand how you were brought up and the culture you came from.

But you didn’t care because being Jamaican made, and still makes, you feel special. Plus it lent way to rather entertaining situations.

Here are 16 things that happened when you are raised as a Jamaican in America:

1. Teachers thought you were slow.

In elementary school you insisted on spelling everything in the British manner. Color was colour and theater was theatre, and as a result you always failed your spelling tests and were placed in the lower reading groups.

2. You wanted to call people bumbaclots.

In school when someone was mean or rude to you, you resulted to calling them a b*tch like everyone else instead of bumbaclot (meaning mother f*cker). You didn’t want people to think you were performing some voodoo ritual, and because you were black and Jamaican the culturally challenged kids that made up your school mistakenly thought Jamaica naturally coincided with voodoo . . . if only they knew that was actually Haiti.

3. You are sort of bilingual.

After listening to Jamaicans speak Patois (English-based creole language with West Indian influences) for your whole life you are able to understand what they’re saying but because you’re so god-damn American you can never speak it properly. When you try to speak Patois you sound like a slightly challenged African leprechaun.

4. Friends called just to hear your parents’ voices.

Friends called your house to hear your mom’s accent on the answering machine or to hear your father answer hello, and you couldn’t understand their obsession because your parents sounded completely normal to you.

5. It sounded like people were always fighting in your house.

It sounded, and still sounds like people are fighting 99.9 percent of the time. Simple conversations between family members about work or past memories or Kimye often sound like arguments over whether to drop an atomic bomb or not.

6. Adults are to be feared and respected, but mostly feared.

As an adult you are shocked by the way kids speak to their parents nowadays: screaming at them, hanging up the phone on them, calling them b*tches and d*cks to their faces. You laugh at the thought of ever speaking to your parents like that because you know it would have resulted in you turning around and them slapping you so hard across the butt yelling something incomprehensible, in an angry Jamaican accent. One slap for each word.

7. You think being Jamaican is like being a part of an exclusive club.

Everyone likes to assume that if you and/or your family come from the Caribbean that means you come from Jamaica—obviously it’s because Jamaica is the greatest and most recognized Caribbean island.

8. You claim parishes in Jamaica.

You tell people you were born somewhere in Jamaica when you really hail from some obscure town in the boondocks of Upstate New York. But you still insist you were born in Port Antonio because that sounds much cooler.

9. People always ask about the weed.

They want to know whether you smoke it, whether your parents smoke it, whether you smoke it together, whether you are a judge of what is the best kind. When you say no they swear you’re lying, and think the Bob Marley poster on your wall is proof of that.

10. You know 4/20 has nothing to do with Jamaica.

For some reason people believe 4/20 is a “holiday” that originated in Jamaica (because of course, all Jamaicans have to be weed smokers). But you know that’s just a bullsh*t holiday a bunch of potheads in California came up with.

11. People ask where are your dreadlocks.

You tell them you don’t have any because you’re not a Rastafarian, and then proceed to explain the religious and spiritual reasons behind dreadlocks. But you eventually give up when you’re only met with baffled stares.

12. You lived for the weekends.

There was nothing better than waking up on a Saturday to the smooth voices of old reggae artists like Bob and Bitty and Sanchez (that was what you considered/consider real music), while the smell of salt fish and ackee rose to your bedroom.

13. You also lived for the summers.

Summer meant packing up enough clothes for a few weeks or a month and hopping on a plane to spend time with 75 percent of the family members who still lived in Jamaica. Also, it didn’t hurt that spending time with them meant eating incredible food that you can only get on the island.

14. You feel more Jamaican than American.

Despite the fact that you were born and raised in American, you’ve always felt closer to Jamaica as a country. It’s not that you don’t love America and you’re unpatriotic, but you’re not ashamed to admit that you’re prouder to be a Jamaican.

15. You know you don’t have to be black to be Jamaican.

Ignorant people think you have to be black to be Jamaican, but you know that Jamaica is so ethnically diverse and you understand what many don’t about being apart of a nation, that out of many come one people. Or as the Jamaicans put it, “Out of many, One people.”

Picture courtesy of http://www.yaadhustletv.com

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