What are the biggest misconceptions about Jamaica?

Hey everybody! I'm currently working on a video/documentary project for the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo that focuses on athletes from the Caribbean, and this involves presenting background information about the places they're from... and A LOT of Caribbean Olympians are from Jamaica! So, the damn "suits" on this project are expecting the usual bullshit to the tune of "island paradise... steel drums... Bob Marley" and I REFUSE to present a Western/American stereotype of Jamaica! I want to learn about the REAL Jamaica! So, what are the big misconceptions about Jamaica? What is the REAL Jamaica? What kinds of things do you think form the "soul" of Jamaica? What do most Jamaican's love most about Jamaica? What are the biggest national or social problems that most Jamaicans think about? What are the things about Jamaica that Jamaicans feel most proud about? How is Jamaica different from all the other islands and nations in the Caribbean? What makes it special? What do Jamaicans care about most in how their country is represented? What's cool in Jamaica? What's not cool? What are the local things that outsiders would never understand about Jamaica? I appreciate your input on this! I sincerely want to break this cycle of countries like Jamaica being represented by dumb, outdated stereotypes. I want to present Jamaica as a place with good and bad, with nuance and poetry, just like every other place on Earth.... and to do this, I really need to learn about the REAL Jamaica!!

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Find people, places and things. We'll ask thousands of Jamaicans to help you.

Advice

I’ve lived in the US since I was 10, I’ve heard many of my friends over the years who were considering a trip to Jamaica say things like “don’t leave the resort”, referencing the island’s reputation for violent crime. Jamaica is most dangerous for Jamaicans, usually tourists fall victim to pickpockets more than anything else. Also the area around resorts are usually safe and most violent crime occurs in places tourists would never visit.

Advice

I’m not Jamaican but I’ve been there and know a lot of Jamaicans/ about Jamaica. Here’s one big thing people should know…it’s that not all Jamaicans are Rastafarians . Don’t get me wrong plenty of Jamaicans smoke weed and listen to reggae but the island is much more conservative than American media presents it as and most people are actually devour mainstream Christians and not affiliated with the Rastafari movement. Also weed is not fully legal in Jamaica. It has on it recently legalized cannabis for Rastafarian spiritual use, tourists and for licensed medical patients and dispensaries.

Advice

Based on a few visits and listening to reggae all my life, reading about it etc. Hardly an expert but some impressions:

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So, what are the big misconceptions about Jamaica?

–everyone there smokes weed and is into rastafarian culture and thats what defines life there. that its all about partying. That kingston is terrbily violent and you shouldn’t go there.

What is the REAL Jamaica?

-small bar with a pool table, juke box, drinking red stripes. strip malls/plazas, kingston alleyways. small vans serving as buses. traffic congestion. the small convenience stores.

What kinds of things do you think form the “soul” of Jamaica?

-the music, patois language, british colonial legacy, prim and proper behavior. cool fashion.

What do most Jamaican’s love most about Jamaica?

-how relevant it is worldwide and well known their culture is despite being a small island. beachfront bbqs with sound systems

What are the biggest national or social problems that most Jamaicans think about?

-poverty

What are the things about Jamaica that Jamaicans feel most proud about?

-their sports stars, the music obviously, the natural beauty of the landscape

How is Jamaica different from all the other islands and nations in the Caribbean? What makes it special?

-haven’t visited enough of the others to answer this

What do Jamaicans care about most in how their country is represented?

-that education is a high priority there

What’s cool in Jamaica? What’s not cool?

-cool:-the weather at night, sound clashes, the food, fashion and clothing style, patois language

-not cool: violence, dire poverty, super polluted with trash in some areas, coral reefs disappearing

What are the local things that outsiders would never understand about Jamaica?

-im not an insider, but probably that it’s a lot more focused on manners, etiquette, education than people assume. more conservative than people think.

Advice

Thank you for writing this up!

It sounds like Jamaica is a place where there’s a lot of cultural pride, especially when the island and its culture makes big waves internationally, while at the same time poverty is a big concern. What do most Jamaicans feel is the source or cause of poverty on the island? Is it the government? external factors? Internal factors?

I also glean from this that Jamaica is fundamentally an intimate place… as in, it’s easy to go out and make friends. Is this a part of national pride? Do Jamaican’s feel that they are more friendly and welcoming than other places in the Caribbean? (FYI: I certainly think so… I visited Kingston for two days in 2015 and loved it, but I don’t want my BRIEF experiences to bias against what naitive Jamaicans have to say.)

It also sounds like Jamaicans don’t get enough credit for being educated and well read/well versed?

How do Jamaicans feel about all the cruise ship people that visit the island during tourist season?

Advice

Most Jamaicans feel that the cause of poverty is that the government is perceived to not have poverty eradication high on it’s priority list. This causes some underprivileged people to think that violence is the only way out. There’s also a political, almost protected aspect to gang violence here, which feeds into the “the government doesn’t care about poor people” view.

Jamaicans definitely feel friendlier than some other Caribbean islands. It’s been my experience that people from the Eastern Caribbean are much colder initially, but they warm up and get super friendly after a little while. Jamaicans tend to start out friendlier.

Re being well educated….ehhhhhh…on a whole, Jamaicans mostly aren’t super well educated. Our literacy rates are very very good. But in terms of higher education….no.

The cruise ship arrivals are neither here nor there for most Jamaicans. Tourist areas love them because of the sweet sweet USD they bring in. Most people outside of those areas don’t really care

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