coloured from the roots

time to get serious.

i hadn’t intended this post to be all heavy and personal, but then it was probably a little optimistic to assume that celebrating the 5oth anniversary of jamaican independence was going to be plain sailing for a british born, half english, half chinese african jamaican.

just so we’re clear, this is not a sociopolitical analysis of what it is to be of mixed ethnic heritage in twenty first century britain. more politically astute minds than mine (in that respect i’m not very jamaican!) can consider and have undertaken that task.  this is simply an insight into what my heritage means to me. i speak for no one but myself. 

and just to lighten the tone, here’s my starbucks receipt showing some colour coordinated love en route to messenger: the bob marley exhibition at the 02 arena

right now is an awesome time to be jamaican… and british. the olympics are in full swing. team jam and team gb are achieving great things. london is buzzing… and today is jamaican independence day.

out of many, one people
that is the jamaican motto. it means the jamaican people comprise individuals of multivarious ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, all of whom are proud to call themselves jamaican.

   my vip ticket to the screening of one people at jamaica house (my aunt got me in!)

this is a concept not widely known or understood by the world at large, which still inevitably sees the iconic dreadlock sporting,  ganja smoking rasta as the ‘true jamaican’ (thank you rastamouse!). when it comes to flying my island’s flag (the caribbean one, not the other one) i am often confronted by confusion and indignation and when the source is a friend, it cuts much deeper than i’m sure they realise. in fact, what prompted this rambling over share was an off the cuff remark that i am “only jamaican when it suits [me].” in other words, when bolt and blake are killing it on the athletics track.

i’m sure that most people of mixed race (yes, i’m comfortable with that term), have at some point ruminated on their sense of belonging and identity. i am no different. i don’t mean that i need to feel like i belong in one group or another. there are far too many completely amazing advantages to being mixed race (not least having so many people to cheer on during the olympics) for me to get caught up in that. in any event, my father has always endeavoured to instil in me a certain fearlessness about who i am and what i can achieve.

no, for me it’s about the right to celebrate all aspects of my identity. it’s about the recognition of diversity, in absence of which one might quickly feel or appear fraudulent. that’s what lies behind the lack of self assurance that stops me challenging them in the caribbean takeaway when they’re blatantly ripping me off over a portion of ackee and saltfish with just the dumpling because they think i don’t know what i’m ordering. that’s what makes me hurt when my friends suggest i’m a glory hunting athletics fan. so i guess it is about belonging in a way, but about belonging to owning all the things i am.

i suppose what i’m trying to say is this: yes, i have fair(ish) skin. no, i don’t have an afro and i need to use urban dictionary to understand patois. i don’t know the complete lyrics to any of bob marley’s songs. but, i am jamaican. i respect fear the matriarchy. to my core, i value faith, family… food! i am passionate and driven. i can’t handle the cold.

i’m also english. my arms flail when i dance. after a shit day, i put the kettle on.

i am proud to be both and nobody has the right to tell me (or anybody else for that matter) who i am and where my allegiances lie.

right, rant over. back to making cool stuff…

happy independence day!

coloured from the roots is a wonderful wire on wood creation by jamaican artist charl baker that expresses what i’ve been trying to say… without all those pesky words ;0)

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This entry was published on 6 August, 2012 at 8:38 am. It’s filed under get serious, over share and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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