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‘My White Jamaican Dad’: Unlikely YouTube Star

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By Cooper Fleishman on January 23, 2012

I’ll bet YouTuber TypiKelly is right: A lot of people don’t know — or don’t believe — that there are white Jamaicans. This is why she interviewed her dad, a white guy with gray hair who looks as American as Caucasian apple pie, who happens to be from “the Western part of Jamaica.”

It’s astounding to see and hear that accent come out of a dude who looks like my Irish friend’s pasty uncle, but it’s real — and so difficult to make out that YouTube’s closed captioning hilariously misinterprets just about everything he says. Watch: “I can’t really tell you where I come from” turns into Carried it into account from the legal development on the conference or had.

It’s also worth watching because he’s a really easygoing, magnetic guy who seems to have a great relationship with his proud daughter (although he’s unsure why people on the Internet would care). He raves about curried goat. He mentions Yellowman.

Usually, when Americans travel to Jamaica, we hire cruises like Sandals to whisk us into culture-less, tourist-dominated luxury spas, far from areas where you can experience an authentic slice of life.

It looks like this:

But in reality, for most Jamaicans, life is nothing like an idyllic stock image. A huge portion of the country lives in squalor, and wealth is divided neatly among racial lines: There are the descendants of slaves and the descendants of plantation owners. The poor live with “poor housing, limited food supply, and inadequate access to clean water, quality health care or education,” according to Encyclopedia of the Nations:

The descendants of black slaves tend to be among the poorest classes in Jamaica, while white and mixed-race descendants of plantation owners and traders tend to be better off. These extremes are reflected in the nation’s distribution of income: in 1996 the wealthiest 20 percent of Jamaicans controlled 43.9 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 20 percent controlled only 7 percent.

So of course there are white Jamaicans. They descended from the small portion of the population that owned a much larger portion. History has been pretty good to them. As Kelly’s dad reminds us, “The Jamaican motto is ‘Out of Many, One People,’ so you’ve got all different kinds of people in Jamaica, and I’m just an example of one of them.” It’s kind of a sad motto: Perhaps servitude is the only thing that unites Jamaica’s rich and poor. But my guess is Dad would be happy if his video raised awareness of his country’s extreme class inequality — seems like it’s long overdue.

(via Reddit)

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