In 2022 Jamaica we still seem to be preoccupied with who is “Jamaica
white”, “red”, “brown brown”, “brown”, “dark brown”, “black” and “black
black”. Three things in my opinion are mainly responsible for this continued
confusion shrouded and clouded in an undercurrent of racism and classism. A
constant deficiency in the equal distribution of first class education to all, a lack
of actual physical international exposure through travels of resident citizens,
and a seeming refusal in some quarters to graduate from history class without
thinking they’ve abandoned the subject. In some instances it has required a trip
outside of Jamaica for many who thought they were really “white” to be
The national motto, “Out of many, ONE people” seems to be in need of
serious revision, since conveniently we still pick and choose occasions to talk
about “we as black people”, “these brown people” and all the rest, while “we as
Jamaicans” is also used for appropriate moments. The more approved minds
like to point to statistics which say the majority of Jamaicans are black, and as
such, express a louder voice. So are we suggesting that Jamaicans who have
darker complexion are more entitled to gain benefits within our society? When
certain statements are made and the complexion of the majority is used as a
justification in today’s Jamaica they should be cut down hastily like a ready
The former Prime Minister PJ Patterson declared it was “black man time
now” and many sought to dismiss it as just a political ploy to hype the masses.
However, that statement was racist in utterance, severely divisive, rooted and
grounded on the basis of race and complexion. Were all the other previous
leaders white? Or he believed he was ‘more black’ than the rest? Or the ‘real
black’? Added to the already distasteful remark came a suggestion that if he
came off the platform and stood in the crowd it would be hard to differentiate,
since he would naturally blend and fit.
It is shameful that educated minds in Jamaica still support it, though it
served no other purpose than a divisive intent. Sixty years after independence,
but many still promote a concept this country has worked hard to remove and
reject. In Jamaica there is no school, community, profession or position that
now belongs only to a certain complexion or gender.
People around the world, even some Jamaicans say, “you don’t look
Jamaican”. The response is usually, “how is a Jamaican supposed to look?”.
The history and background of many families might show a distant genesis and
mix from all across the world, but when it comes down to basic brass we say,
“yah mi born, mi Jamaican”. Some think moving ahead equates to forgetting
the past, which is a footstool for fools. Ignorance promoted by the educated
distorts history and makes the uneducated proudly misinformed. Maybe we
should just abandon and simply change our national motto to read “Out of
many, SOME people”.