Jamaican Americans
Preserving the 'Yaad' Culture & Traditions

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Jamaican Americans
by Rose-Marie Gordon-Cole

I remember my first visit to the US; spent a weekend in New York, Flatbush and had to pinch my self as I was convinced I was somewhere in Kingston Jamaica. The sights, sounds, and smell, were just too familiar.

Jamaican Americans

Related: Famous Jamaicans.

From the handcart men selling cds on the sidewalk, to the smell of jerk chicken taunting my taste buds added to the sound of the Jamaican patois been spoken surprising not just by Jamaicans alone. This scene is very familiar in and around the New York area and other states in the US where you find a lot of Jamaican Americans.

If you were born in Jamaica but is now a citizen or resident of the US that makes you a Jamaican Americans (aka Jamericans).

Jamericans can be found in every state of the US, with New York home to more than half of the over 900,000 Jamaican Americans. The first Jamaican Americans was said to have arrived in the US in the early 1600s as volunteer workers on frigates.

It is amazing how we take our 'Jamaicaness' (if there is such a word) everywhere we go. The Jamaican Diasporas ensures that this heritage is preserved through, the fostering and encouraging of cultural programmes and events in the US and around the world.

Some of these events are...

  • Cultural expositions- show casing Jamaican talent through art and craft, dance
  • Festivals which introduces you to a taste of Jamaica, for those persons who have never been and a reminder for those who longed to be home. This is through food and entertainment.

The Jamaica Tourist Board along with other private entities, work very hard to ensue that these events are maintained. In addition to what is done in the US for the Jamaicans living there, the Jamerican society also contributes continuously to the Jamaican economy through remittances and export/Import.


With all the economic problems that the US was experiencing the Jamaican Americas still managed to continue sending remittances to their love ones. As a matter of fact up to February of this year there was a 7.4% increase in remittance to the island compared to the same period last year.

Another fact obtained from the International Fund of Agricultural Development states that “remittances represents approximately 15% of Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year".


There is one thing that I try not to do whenever traveling to the US and that is taking a ton of Jamaican food with me, as numerous Caribbean stores can be found in and around the major Jamaican communities and is stocked with some of the most unlikely items; blue cake soap, tin mackerel, cerasee bush, pigs tail, just to give you an idea. And if you are in the Florida area it is common to see ackee and mangos for sale in the Caribbean stores.

Most Jamaicans who have relatives abroad, from the first and second week of December is geared and ready to join the long lines at the nearest wharf to collect the annual “barrels”, stock with everything from the Christmas outfits to saltfish. Irrespective of the economic situation the barrels a come... :-)

Related: Our Jamaican Store

Posted: 09/04/2011

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Famous Jamaican Americans

The following is a list of world famous JaAmericans, extracted from Wikipedia


  • Tyson Beckford[1]
  • Shari Belafonte[2]
  • Corbin Bleu (1989 - ) film/television actor & vocalist (High School Musical)[3]
  • Camille McDonald
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph[4]
  • Tiffany Chin-Sim[5]
  • David Reivers[6]


  • Afrika Bambaataa - Musician[7]
  • Beat Prophets[2]
  • Harry Belafonte[8]
  • Busta Rhymes[2]
  • Canibus[2]
  • Heavy D[2]
  • KRS One[2]
  • Sean Kingston
  • Notorious BIG[2]
  • Renee Neufville[2]
  • Ernie Smith[2]
  • Steven "Bigg Steve" Anderson
  • Olivia
  • Christopher "Kid" Reid
  • Sandra Denton
  • Pretty Ricky
  • Sean Paul - Rapper

Other Notable Jamaica Americans

  • Louis Farrakhan - leader of the Nation of Islam[9]
  • Samuel Fraunces
  • Gil Noble
  • Colin Powell - former 65th United States Secretary of State[10]
  • David Paterson- Governor of New York
  • Ben Gordon- British-born Chicago Bulls basketball player
  • Patrick Ewing - Retired basketball player who played with the New York Knicks
  • Claude McKay
  • Chili Davis
  • Devon White (baseball)

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