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Why Are Jamaicans So Angry?

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Why Are Jamaicans So Angry?Why Are Jamaicans So Angry?

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

The Jamaican culture is fun and lively. The people? They are warm, friendly, caring and kind. And this is not me tooting the horns of fellow Jamaicans because I am one. It is the truth.
The care and level of customer service that many travellers receive when they visit Jamaica is one of the main reasons visitors return to the island so often.


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But have you ever scrolled through social media, watched podcasts or attended a comedy show and noticed how Jamaicans are depicted? The kind, loving spirits of Jamaicans are not what is typically displayed.

Our aggressive nature is always highlighted. Many people from around the world don’t just view us as a place with great food and wild parties, but as a people with aggressive tendencies.

Where did they get that belief? Maybe it's the recurring theme in the movies, such as the top-rated, "Shottas," or because of our high crime rate. So it does lead to the question, why are Jamaicans so angry?

Nature/DNA?

Back in university, when we had this discussion, one of the main reasons we came up with is that it’s simply in our nature. It’s in our DNA. It is a well-known fact that the last of the people captured in Africa usually ended up in Jamaica.

They were better able to manage the long voyage, strong-willed and determined. It just so happens that they were the more aggressive of the bunch. They put up a fight. These are our ancestors and we have inherited this trait from them.

However, if that were the only factor that mattered, wouldn’t all Jamaicans be angry and aggressive? Another important factor, of course, is nurturing. The communities we are raised in, the beliefs instilled in us, and the different environments we are exposed to.

Socialisation

In his seminal work "Young Boys Learning to Fear, Hate, and Harm: A Recipe for Sustaining Tribal Political Violence in Jamaica's Garrisons," social anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle wrote that "as a child grows, he or she is taught directly and indirectly through socialisation”.

Dr. Gayle went on to say that "children in violent communities are raised to survive violence”. Some children in this setting are taught to be violent to survive and are exposed to enormous violence. Others are taught how to avoid violence and are protected from experiencing it by parents, other community service providers and social units.

Children learn in various ways, including observation, imitation, coercion, persuasion, reward, punishment, instruction, and example. Socialisation begins in childhood and, it was thought that girls exhibited more indirect aggression and boys more physical aggression.

Jamaican boys are taught that displays of affection are a sign of weakness, except anger. That emotion is always permitted.

Personality Defects

Most Jamaicans' aggressiveness is exacerbated by personality disorders, which include power struggles, psychosexual dysfunction, and dependency issues. Many of these sufferers are enrolled in our educational institutions at various levels.

According to a February 21, 2018 Gleaner editorial, "a 2008 survey estimated that 20% of persons in Jamaica, aged 15 to 74, suffered from depression”.

Poverty

Another reason for Jamaicans' angry behaviours is the lack of financial satisfaction. Unfulfilled needs, born of a tribalistic political system spun out of control and supported by unworkable policies, are at the heart of Jamaica's pauperisation culture.

Denying economic empowerment through living wages so people can pay for their children's education, electricity, affordable housing, and food is another manifestation of this.

What Do Jamaicans think?

A Jamaican blogger, Alexis Chataeu, found it interesting to ask fellow Jamaicans why they are so mean, and these are some of the responses she got:

  1. “Most of us speak patois, which is an aggressive language, like German. We don’t beat around the bush and don’t like To waste time. Most foreigners are more on the placating or diplomatic side. The majority of Jamaicans aren’t. Dem too soft and hypocritical.”
  1. “I wouldn't say we are mean, per se... We're just short-tempered and aggressive. This is seen in our language and interactions, e.g., you're laughing and slapping the nearest person. But, this aggressiveness, is seen as playfulness in our culture. But to others, it isn't.”
  1. “What non-Jamaicans should try to understand is the intention behind our perceived 'meanness'. We may be loud and in some cases brutish but we're polite and respectful. We may not coddle or preen but we still care about you. Don't let the frown scare you. Our hearts smile.”

Jamaican people, just like others around the world, come with various personalities. Some are more sweet-natured than others, some a bit more abrupt and aggressive.

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References & Sources For Why Are Jamaicans So Angry?

  1. Jamaica Observer. 2022. Unmasking Jamaica's aggressive personality. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 September 2022].
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