I still remember clearly the first time I experienced a culture shock. It was my first time attending a public school. I just graduated from prep school and was pretty excited to go onto the next phase in my academics.
Not gonna lie though. The first few months were tough for me. Some of my classmates noticed that I spoke proper English and hardly spoke patios. They guessed I came from a private institution( which was correct) but they also assumed I was rich or had a lot of money (Which was incorrect). There was even this one girl who kept begging me for money,
I wanted to punch her at the time and yell Mi ah hustle and ah try buss too! I was upset and had to explain to her that I was not loaded as she thought I was. I admit I felt shocked by this and it took me a while to adjust and settle in the school because of this
It was then the reality of class separation really hit me, and it wasn’t really a pleasant experience. I didn’t like being treated differently. I felt upset about it, and thought: What if I attended a private institution? Another classmate of mine even asked if I was really Jamaican because I never spoke patios. I remember feeling very upset because I didn’t like how they were distinguishing me. Sure I came from a private school, but hell, I wasn’t rich. And I didn’t speak in dialect often but I didn’t think that was required to really be considered Jamaican.
I don’t want y’all to get the wrong idea. Not all the students there were like this. Some did not seem to mind and I made some great friends there. But of course, there will always be folks around who will say negative things and you can’t do much about it. Some of them only heard the way I spoke and carried myself and immediately made conclusions about which weren’t true.
I was grateful for the experience though. It opened my eyes to how class conflict does exist and is very much present in the Jamaican society. Colonial structures that were built to accommodate the elite still exist today. It is a social paradigm that will be challenging to change but that change can start with us, the individual. As the old proverb goes: Finger neber say “Look here,” him say “look yonder.” We tend to look at other’s faults and shortcomings rather than our own. Let’s try not to produce notions or an opinion about each other without really getting to know one another. Let’s check ourselves to see if we are participating in this paradigm.
I had to go through a process of assuring myself of what I stood for and what my identity is. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of peer pressure or wanting to fit in especially during your teenage years. It’s not a nice feeling to feel excluded or like the “other” but I think once you know who are are, it gets easier to care less about what others think.Tweet