Will the real Jamaican please stand up? (Jamaica Observer)

March 16, 2010

Will the real Jamaican please stand up? – Social & Political Issues – JamaicaObserver.com.

D. Ranks wrote:


Good Piece, and I applaud it. What I object to, however, is the term “real Jamaican.” Who is a real Jamaican? Is it one who believes as the author does, or is it one who hold an opinion of his or her own? Is a real Jamaican one who is born into wealth or born into poverty? Or is a real Jamaican a Jamaican who does not commit crimes, get involved in corrupted practices? One who can run really fast, or run really slow? Am I a real Jamaican, how about you? and so on and so forth.
I would like to think that each Jamaican, regardless of where they are form, their social status, their beliefs, their crimes or none, in fact evey jackman of us, are real Jamaicans. We are real to the core, but still we are all unique. “Are you a real Jamaica”, sounds like separating the sheep from sheep and saying this sheep is not a real sheep, but it looks like a sheep and sound like a sheep. We are disowning our collective-selves, that is what it is.
I would have preferrd the phrase, “concerned Jamaicans.” Yet even with that there would be critical views on it, becasue we would have define “concerned”. Such is life. But we live in societies of diversity and everyone of us is real, concerned for our welfare or not, we are real to the bone.
No doubt about it, Loyd B. Smith is a real Jamaican, and he expresses it eloquently, much to our benefit. But so is Andem, a convicted criminal, and he is in prison , much to our delight and safety. We are real, but the question we should ask, maybe, is: Just how concerned we are for this nation of ours?

I responded (3/16/2010):

@ D Ranks – In theory, I agree with the critique you are making.  However, I chose not to get into that (sometimes important) splitting of hairs & to focus on the main argument/proposal that is being made.   Lloyd could have said  “concerned Jamaicans” or that other rather odd phrase “well-thinking Jamaicans” & you (and probably myself as well) would have had similar critiques about the ways in which such terms are both exclusionary & unnecessarily limited/limiting.  I think they are also class-laden terms, but that’s another conversation.

Here’s the problem though. At the same time that the term has some drawbacks (anything given a nationalist flavour always does), all of our thieving, malicious, lying, misinformed, shortsighted politicians have been speaking & acting in the name of us “Jamaicans” for a long time.  They certainly consider themselves to be “real Jamaicans.” So do all those who work really hard to wreak mayhem on the society for personal gain.  They are Jamaican by accident of birth, dishonest and evil by choice.   The effects of their decisions inter alia are to undermine our collective abilities to improve our the current circumstances & to mortgage our children’s future.  To me, that is decidedly unpatriotic behaviour, and thus un-Jamaican.  In this case, what you are working for is what distinguishes the “real” vs. the insincere/selfish/destructive etc.   Indeed, I guess we need to consider what a useful opposite would be.

I agree with Lloyd in the sense that we need to take back the notion of what it means to be “Jamaican” & to define it in a more progressive way, that allows people to start to think about “being Jamaican” as synonymous with becoming politically engaged as citizens & taking on the responsibility of making a better society for all of us.  It’s about a group of people being willing to stand up & declare their allegiances & to ask the rest of us, do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?  Are you with us or against us?  You don’t have to take the same side I’m (or Lloyd, or whoever) is on, but know that you are on a side, whether or not you choose.  It’s better to choose. I think that’s what all Jamaicans want – to be able to choose how our lives unfold, rather than be treated like stupid children by our politicians.  It’s a moral argument that does and can hold sway, and certainly effectively counter those other “moral” arguments that we hear too often (religion disguised really) and which don’t ever question power, or the various ways that the architects of those who claim  to have “moral authority” (not mentioning any names….) are actively colluding with power and against Jamaicans as a collective.


3 Responses to “Will the real Jamaican please stand up? (Jamaica Observer)”

  1. ruthibelle Says:

    boy i yell yuh… *sigh* the way things have been going lately in this place, it really mek yuh wonder.

    I thought his ending paragraph summed things up beautifylly, and I hope our P listenin and hearin!

    “There is nothing to fear except fear itself and if we must die let it not be like hogs penned in an inglorious spot (if I may so paraphrase these two well-known quotations which became the rallying point for patriots during World War II). Lest we forget, Jamaica is indeed at war. It is time that the real Jamaicans begin to stand up. Too many of us prefer to play to the gallery or pander to the lowest common multiple. To Bruce Golding I say, “Beware the Ides of March, yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look.” As for those in their ivory towers, seemingly far from the world of woe, “Fire deh a mus-mus tail, him think a cool breeze!” I am prepared to stand up; are you?”

  2. xhanubis Says:

    I think it is a psychological response that persons usually seek the lightest issue in an argument upon which to focus their analysis. This I think allows them the luxury of a response without the required intellectual commitment.

    I don’t think we need to argue semantics to separate the sheep from the goats in this case. Rather than debate, the political correctness of the classifications I think it is more important to stand up and count yourself as a ‘real Jamaican’ to say with pride and without fear, that you are sick and tired of the ‘traitors’ who have been strangling the life out of this once beautiful country.

    I am tired of the political posers, and wagonists, and hustlers and thugs whose only concern is the depth of their pockets and the fatness of their bellies!

    I for one am a ‘REAL JAMAICAN’ and I will proudly stand and say NO MORE.

    • longbench Says:

      xhanubis: Thanks for stopping by! Sometimes, no matter how irritating it can be, having that conversation does help to clarify what we stand for. But at the end of the day, each of us who say we care need to do more. We need to act like we are “real Jamaicans”. We need to open our mouths and speak up, both to the people who are saying “why bother? what’s the point? and to those who are saying “min nuh business, man affi eat a food” and those who ignore us like we are jinji fly, waiting for us to go away. We need to denounce the sheggery wherever we see and hear it, and speak as if we are not simply individuals but carry the deep pride and hurt of the thousands who can’t speak at that moment. Come back again!

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