Commentary

A Place to Call Home – Jamaicans in South Florida

Jamaican Children in South Florida
Written by Calibe Thompson

I’ve been drafted onto the board of a foundation. Fancy stuff! I’d always seen folks with a long list of board appointments on their resumes and wondered if those tags were only there for pomp and fanciness. But this appointment is important to me and the small team of ladies I’ve pulled together to make up the public relations committee.

You see, as bold and ever-present as Jamaicans are in the mish mash of Caribbean cultures that make up South Florida’s population, we don’t have a place to call our own. Yes we run Lauderhill, and you can’t take two steps anywhere in Miami Gardens, Tamarac or Miramar without hearing a “yardie” accent. But the Haitian community has Little Haiti and the Haitian Cultural Center, and the Cubans have Little Havana and Calle Ocho. We call South Florida Kingston 21, referring to the next corporate zipcode our capital city could claim, but we Jamaicans don’t have a place here with our name on it.

When I was called to sit on the board of the Jamaica Diaspora Legacy Foundation I figured it might be a nice resume tag. But as I’ve learned more about the group’s mission and objectives, as I learn about how important the space could become to the real people who make up our oh so colorful community, the more personally important it has become as well.

The foundation exists to create a complex for us Jamaicans, where our art, artefacts, dance, theater, roots and culture can be displayed for all to enjoy. Our associations, our alumni, our cultural organizations and music fraternity will no longer have to feel like we’re “kotching” in someone else’s space. We’ll have our own. One young lady excitedly described her vision of a place she could take her kids on Sundays to listen to reggae music and eat Devon Stout ice cream. I’m not sure that’s exactly what it will be but I’m glad it’s inspiring us to dream.
Civic pride is not a trait Jamaicans have ever been short of. The Jamaica Cultural and Resource Center project, for us is another welcome source.

Calibe Thompson is a television producer, author, public speaker and a board member for the Jamaica Diaspora Legacy Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at www.jamaicalegacyfoundation.com.

About the author

Calibe Thompson

Jamaican born TV host, producer and director Calibe Thompson is Head Dread at Blondie Ras Productions, creators of “Taste the Islands”, “The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly”, “Miami Fitness TV” and other terrestrial and web based series broadcast regionally throughout the Caribbean, US and Canada. She is also an opinion columnist for the South Florida Times, voiceover professional and on-camera personality. Thompson’s mission is to continue to showcase the best of Caribbean culture to the wider world.