Growing Up Like A Jamaican – The Book

Markdown:June is a special month for me not only because of my birthday but also because of the “birthday” of my book, “How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican.” In honor of “How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican’s” 2-year anniversary and because I just released the second edition, which includes an excerpt by Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) and comments by Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Forum – they’re both Jamericans – for this month’s blog I am including an excerpt.Bless up!- Dahlia“WE ARE JAMAICANS,WHO ARE YOU?”Let’s face it siblings can be mean. My sisters used to taunt me by singing, “We are Jamaicans who are you?” I was the youngest and although we lived in America, I was the only Yankee in the family. They used to sing about the beautiful waters of Jamaica, cool breezes and mango trees. The best I could do in retaliation was to threaten to call INS, but for the record, my family has always been in this country legally. Do you know your family tree? Do you know the town in Ireland where your grandfather was born? Your mom is part Croatian, but can you find it on a map? According to family records, I am from the Ashanti of Ghana and a descendant of the Maroons of Jamaica. How many people know where they’re from? A lot of people liken America to a melting pot, while others say it is more like a tossed salad. I personally prefer the latter analogy because it allows for individuality. It leaves room for people’s histories. Teach your child about their family history. Knowing where they come from will help to build pride and a strong sense of who they are. Not only should children know their history, they should be able to touch the soil, walk the streets and breathe the air of those who came before them. Every time I go to Jamaica, I feel such a strong connection to the island and the people even though I wasn’t born there. I walk through the house where my mother grew up and if I close my eyes; I can see her as a child sitting on the veranda looking out at the Santa Cruz Mountains. The best gifts that my parents gave me are their stories of what it was like growing up in Jamaica. Hearing their stories solidifies my connection to a land and a people who help define me. I used to wonder where I got off sticking up for myself when others allowed themselves to be used as doormats. I wasn’t always this confident, but it was like something kicked into high gear during my late twenties. Then it struck me that it was the Maroon in me coming out. On my father’s side of the family I am a Maroon. Maroon is a term used to refer to runaway slaves, mostly in the Caribbean, who rebelled against their oppressors. In Jamaica, they escaped into the mountains, fought off invasions by the Spanish and English and were able to set up their own societies. There were some limitations regarding how they were able to govern themselves and the conditions for their existence were outlined in a treaty. About two years ago, my family and I went to Accompong which is the largest Jamaican Maroon town located in St. Elizabeth – my mother’s hometown. We were able to walk the grounds of our ancestors, see the places where they hid and fought off attacks from invaders and see how the town still thrives. There are five Maroon towns in Jamaica and to this day, they operate much like they did in the past. The Accompong tour was exciting; I purchased a copy of the original treaty that was drawn up between the Maroons and the British. It is framed and hanging on the wall of my sanctuary at home. Learning about my history firsthand, solidified for me who I am and where I’m coming from.

About the author

Dahlia Welsh