“Jamaica’s apparently peculiar position is usually explained along lines somewhat like this: We are neither Africans though most of us are black. We are neither Anglo Saxon though some of us would have others believe this. We are Jamaican! And what does this mean?”
(Nettleford, 1998 p.23)
I believe, Nettleford couldn’t have said it any better. The issue of Jamaican identity is one that is heavily based on our unique predisposition. We cannot claim an identity solely based on race, as we are indeed ‘out of many one people’ and we are all somehow surrogate; separated from the land of our forefathers and not indigenous to this land. So we are, therefore, residents of this country- Jamaican. Though previously as a colony we were divided, and stratified based on the colour of our skin, as an independent nation, we have embraced our different shades and cultures to form one, that is uniquely and originally ours. This is a point also highlighted in Nettlefords ‘Mirror Mirror’,(p.23)
I agree with Nettleford, that a big part of our development is our ‘quest for identity’ (p.19-21). However, this ‘quest’ is further complicated as we are constantly bombarded by the influences of others thanks to globalization .It is up to us as a nation then, to decide on ‘who we want to be’ and what we want to be seen as (p.19). We have the ability and right to choose how we want to be perceived.
Onto Nettleford’s question: ‘…what Does this mean?’ As ‘Jamaicans’ are we Rastafarians who smoke marijuana and eat ‘ital’ ?or are we high speed runners who dominate the track? Or are we simply a developing nation? Are we all of the above? Perhaps a fair conclusion would be: “..we are neither Africans though most of us are black. We are neither Anglo Saxon though some of us would have others believe this. We are Jamaican! And what does this mean?”- It may very well mean, that we fit no mold . We are Jamaicans, an identity that only defines itself. We are a complex and diverse nation, and this ‘identity’, is perhaps, our biggest achievement yet.
(Agree? Disagree?Share your views in the comments below 😉 )
Nettleford, R. (1998) Mirror, Mirror. Identity Race and Protest in Jamaica. 2nd edition Kingston, LMH Publishing p. 16-33
Photo source: My Jamaican family.(2008) retrieved from:http://myjamaicanfamily.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html
Photo source: Jamaica 50. (2012)Infusion Inc. Retrived from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=458317907546268&set=a.445300142181378.103324.121908361187226&type=1&theater