Is racism a problem in Jamaica?

by Brian


The reason I ask is because my wife and I would love to spend our winters in Jamaica, possibly move there someday!

However, since I am white and she is black we are concerned that we would encounter problems.

ANSWER: July-17-2009 by Wellesley Gayle

Hi Brian,

Interesting and most appreciated question.

I am going to answer you from a personal position, and I will encourage other Jamaicans to post their comments below as well.

And just to be clear, I am interpreting racism as "prejudice or discrimination based upon race".

So racism, to a certain extent, I believe is real in Jamaica, but certainly not to the extent of what we see or hear about in, say the USA and the United Kingdom.

In fact, I would assume it is everywhere, whether we like to believe it or not- as long as there are different races in the same area, racism is, and probably will always be there.

And maybe, just maybe it is natural- in that, in the same way that some of us are taller or shorter, or slimmer or fatter, or richer or poorer; attitudes from and towards individual will be different based on background and personal preferences. The defining line however, is perhaps when (other whether or not) an identifiable group - geographically, demographically, politically, etc., takes and accepts a single position towards a race.

If they do, then clearly they would be racist, and I am confident that Jamaicans are not- by any measure.

On another note, I personally think that a lot of us Jamaicans does have a strange but subtle tendency to correlate anyone on the lighter side with greater beauty and brains - no surprise many of our young ladies are 'bleaching' and the dance hall artistes trumpet the beauty in the 'browings' - by the songs they sing and/or by the companion they choose.

So that said Brian, you should not have much concern in that regard.

Yes, you can expect passerbys to take a second look at you and your wife, but that is natural, there is nothing more to it. It is probably unusual to see a white man with a black woman since we are predominantly a black country.

But, by the way, we do have an increasing number of inter-racial relationships in Jamaica, many tourist, for example, find true love in locals and are thoroughly enjoying it.

I hope that helps Brian.
Stay in touch.

I welcome further comments from Jamaicans below.

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Comments for Is racism a problem in Jamaica?

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Nov 30, 2011
wrong answer NEW
by: Anonymous

mi neva did wa dat

Sep 30, 2009
Racism in Jamaica
by: Brian Tagg

I am also a white man married to a wonderful Jamaican lady for 29 years and still deeply in love.

I remember my first visit to the island in 1980 and had some concerns about it and the reaction to me from her family as they say "no problem".
I was treated with much love and sincerity and was absolutely overwhelmed.

On my arrival at Kingston the airline had managed to lose all my bags leaving me with only the clothes I stood in.

I cannot describe how the family and complete strangers rallied round with gifts of clothes to tide me over, the experience made feel very humble as I knew this would not have happened in London England.

When traveling about you will get the odd stare and shout of hey whitey! Believe me these are not racist as it would be in Europe or the US it's just in rural areas they are not used to seeing white people, as regards your relationship 99% of the time people smile and often make nice comments.

In nearly 30 years of visiting Jamaica I have never had a problem. So go rest easy you will have a ball!

Brian Tagg

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