My family is Jamaican, born in Kingston. My Grandfather passed away a few years ago. He lived in St. Elizabeth. My parents live in Florida now, but lots of aunts and uncles and cousins are still in Jamaica. I’ve never gotten into an in-depth conversation about why they came here, but I know they wanted a better life. Anybody in Jamaica wants to get out, just for better living conditions, better opportunity. I don’t think they ever had to make sure I was Jamaican because everything around me was Jamaican. I spent all my summers in Jamaica; they sent me back with my cousins and aunts. They only cook Jamaican food, and even to this day they never eat in a restaurant because no restaurant food is as good as their food – they cook all day, all they want to do is feed you. Now Sidney is almost as Jamaican as I am, he cooks Jamaican food, he loves Reggae.
I want to take my children places where they can appreciate their own life, to see what people don’t normally see about struggling to survive.
I think a lot of people take it for granted what they have here, just the food, the live music, the culture. Me, not being from here, I see so many people who don’t realize how good they have it.
We found that Jamaica and New Orleans have so many similarities. Some of the food dishes are just almost exactly alike with little twists.
I was born and raised in New Orleans. I attended Morehouse, that’s how we met, in Atlanta. I stayed there for ten years and eventually came back home. My parents are both born and raised in New Orleans. My father’s family, as far as I can find, originates back to New Orleans. My grandmother on my mother’s side grew up on a plantation in Vacherie. She wasn’t a slave but she worked on a plantation that once had slaves. That’s pretty much the background as far back as I’ve been able to go. My parents and I haven’t had a lot of conversations about it. That’s probably why over the past ten years we have learned so much more, my parents included, about the generations that were beyond the last two or three, beyond their grandparents. Even just a few days ago we were sitting around having a conversation and I learned something I’d never heard before.
As far as culture, New Orleans is unique, there is a lot going on. I can’t stress it enough. It’s not like you sit down and you’re taught about it, but you are immersed in it. A lot of cultures are that way; you’re immersed in a lifestyle that teaches you your heritage just by living. So that means getting a phone call and heading down to my grandmother’s house and putting out newspaper and eating crab. Or eating crawfish that my grandfather killed hunting, with the whole family there. You find out you’re from some place unique when you leave here.