I celebrate Caribbean American month, I sit inmy house reflecting on my JaAmerican journey.
I was born in New York and I migrated with my Jamaican parents at the tender age of eight weeks. My first recollections of life connected me to my deep love for my country (willed to me by my mother’s and father’s hand) Jamaica.
The saddest day of my life was when my mother sent me at the age of sixteen to my aunt in New York. I certainly did not think that this was a permanent move, I would not have left. I remember the day clearly. I boarded the Air Jamaica departing Kingston to New York. This trip was a harbinger of my life to come. Feeling, like “a big girl” I sipped rum punch ate shrimp…I had a ghastly allergic reaction! Thanks to an angel, I was given Benadryl which saved my life. Once I landed in New York my woes continued. My aunt was nowhere in sight. I did not have her address and vaguely remembered another aunt’s address. So, I departed in a taxi for the Bronx where she lived. When I arrived at my aunt’s home, she refused to pay for the taxi, she exclaimed, “I did not tell you to bring her here.” So, the taxi cab driver departed with my suitcase which was found two weeks later at the airport.
I quickly learned that the family in America did not have the values and the love that I left in Jamaica. After two trying years in New York, I departed (with $25 in my pocket) for college in San Diego. When I was told I had to pay $5,500 I fainted! Anyway, with netball skills (which transferred to basketball skills), track experience and good grades I went on to complete my Bachelors in three years. Each day I longed for my homeland Jamaica. I clung to the “Black, Green, and Gold.” During the tough times I pulled out my faded copy of the national anthem and recited the prayer.
My journey continued with serving in the US Army and working as a Federal government employee for thirty-five years. As I lived in Japan, Germany, and traveled the world, I kept my love affair for my beloved Jamaica alive. Each friend and visitor to my home was always provided a delectable Jamaican dish, notably Easter bun and Christmas pudding. They were entertained with, of course, Reggae music.
As a member of the diaspora, my heart aches for the current US immigration stance. How dare they disrespect the contributions of JaAmericans such as myself?! My heart also aches for the woes of Jamaica…. My love and journey will continue as I vow to “give back” to my beloved country, Jamaica!