Saturday, November 3, 2007
Chinese Jamaican Diaspora
If you closed your eyes at my aunt's house last night, you would have heard a cacophony of different accents: London British, Jamaican, Canadian, Japanese, Californian (or is that just the generic "American" accent?). All of these are people in my family--part of a larger Chinese Jamaican diaspora. As I've already mentioned before, yesterday was my Uncle's memorial service. It was a very emotional time, but it was also very celebratory--and it was one of the few occasions that has brought together my family from so many different regions. And really, as I sat at the kitchen table, listening to reggae music playing in the background, eating the leftover Chinese food from the memorial service dinner, watching family members play mah jong at one corner and Texas hold'em in another, I was struck by just how diverse all of us are: in our tastes, in our accents, in where we live, in what we do. And yet, we are all part of this thing called the Chinese Jamaican diaspora. Our skin tones range in color, from dark to light. Some of us (like my dearly departed Uncle) identified with Jamaica in his heart and soul to his dying day, some of us (myself included) haven't set foot in Jamaica since I was a toddler. And although a few of my relatives continue to tease me about how I can't possibly be Jamaican since I have an aversion to hot peppery food (I just can't take the heat!) there are times when I identify very strongly as a Chinese Jamaican. Certainly last night was one of those times.