Random stories from a Kingston girl

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Uptown Girl

I have this saying that if you are not careful, Jamaica turns you into a snob. And it does it in so many different ways...

Example 1: Yesterday I had a flat tyre. Now, I know how to change a flat and if this was while I was living abroad, I’d have knelt down by the roadside and got on with it. But no, I can’t do that here, my car limped the short distance up the road to a gas station and got a guy there to change it and gave him a money.

Example 2: If I go to a big party or concert somewhere like Mas Camp, I’ll only go now if I am going to the VIP section – I can’t deal with the hassle and harassment in the cheap area.

Example 3: If my car is in the garage, I’ll call a friend to come and pick me up as I’m not going on the bus. And this is the girl who used to walk to the underground station, then take a train, then get a bus and then walk again to get to work when I lived abroad.

Example 4: I was in Notting Hill carnival one year, and was quite ok with the jumping up with anyone and the crowd reaching through the security at points. Yet when I came home and jumped carnival last year, not only did I pick the ‘uptown’ carnival, but I also picked the band which had the rep as having the best security people. And I made sure that these security people kept the crowds away when we went through certain areas.

And if you live in uptown Jamaica, you have to make a distinct effort to ensure that this snobby side doesn’t completely take over. To avoid joining in with all the uptown conversations that say Jamaica is going to the dogs, that say that everyone who lives below half-way-tree is lazy, that take for granted that you should never have to do anything manual for yourself which you can pay someone else to do.

I’m lucky – everyday my job reminds me of the problems out there, but also introduces me to people who are trying to make the best out of what they have. Hopefully that will help me not to let the snobby side take over completely…

21 Comments:

  • At 4:40 pm, Blogger Gela's Words said…

    Oh yes, Ja has more of a class problem than a race problem. Although the class demarcation really started with race - you know, Jamaican whites, brown skin curly hair people are assumed to be people of means over the darkskin people because that's how it started. Oh well.

    Funny, it's not so much money too, not many of the so-called people of means can afford to put on a Beenieman type wedding and even though he had all these uppercrust peeps there, do they consider him their peer. I bet you not!

     
  • At 4:41 pm, Blogger Gela's Words said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 5:31 pm, Anonymous Tiff said…

    haha.. also in jamaica u get so used to not having to pump ur own gas or carry your shopping bags to the car that it's a bit of a culture shock when u go abroad and have to do these things urself! :)

     
  • At 5:34 pm, Blogger Melody said…

    All your concerns about security seem quite legit, KG. As for de other stuff, I'd say if nobody frowned upon de deviant subculture it could somehow usurp de main or ideal culture. In that, even de snobs have their function -- ah guess de challenge is 2 avoid stereotypin' all residents from underprivileged communities.

     
  • At 4:11 am, Anonymous cream said…

    I'd say that security is a problem all over the world nowadays and there is no shame in trying to avoid becoming a victim!
    Yes, you may come across as snobbish but at least you'll be safe!

     
  • At 8:47 am, Anonymous Marissa Bustamante said…

    Are you sure that you're talking about snobbery? To me it sounded more like self preservation. A woman alone is at risk but a white woman alone is most definitely at massive target for harassment and criminal activity.

    You and I both know that if someone got out of line at Notting Hill the authorities and most importantly other people in the crowd would almost certainly intervene and because the perpetrators also know this, they behave themselves like civilized human beings. Well, most of them anyway. The crowd wouldn't stand idly by while some yute says; 'Chupse(kiss teeth). Gyal, I goin jook out you poompoom for you right ya so.' right to your face and start attempting to fondle you on a crowded bus or 'Pork! What you a do here? You wan me chop you bumbo?' as you change your tyre on the roadside. Whereas in Kingston and many other Jamaican environs the crowd would say nothing and walk past as if they hadn't seen or heard the offense or your pleas for help. In fact, they may not intervene even if the yute decided to act on his words. The yute dem know this all too well and that is part of the reason for their boldness.

    Please, don't become an apologist for one of Jamaica's great ills. The harassment is so incesant that you start to accept and not notice it after a while but, it isn't right. Self preservation is in no way snobbery!

     
  • At 10:41 am, Blogger Cooyah said…

    i feel you babes

     
  • At 2:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi my name is Valentina and I'm 23 years old. I came from Italy, in the south of Italy, and I love Jamaica and Jamaican people because you are solars and hospitables. I have been stayed in Jamaica on January 20....great island...wow!!!

    http://harajuku83.spaces.live.com/Personalspace

     
  • At 9:24 pm, Blogger De Immigrant said…

    Yes JA is all about class, what school you went to, where you grew up, who your parents are. From you open your mouth to talk your status is quickly identified. And unfortunately class prejudice is EXTREMELY rampant and effective with no real government laws to to numb the sting that the poor victims feel almost daily.

     
  • At 6:51 pm, Blogger Leon said…

    Can't really blame you. Jamaicans are becoming crude and vulgar. I find myself being a bit snobbish too, despite the fact I'm a middle class guy.

     
  • At 6:14 am, Blogger Teenage Perfectionist said…

    That is just beautiful Check out my blog.

     
  • At 2:14 pm, Blogger Scratchie said…

    Guilty I guess. But the state of affairs promotes it.

     
  • At 4:31 pm, Blogger Mad Bull said…

    >> that take for granted that you
    >> should never have to do
    >> anything manual for yourself
    >> which you can pay someone else
    >> to do.

    You mean there is something wrong with this? ;-)

     
  • At 8:33 am, Blogger Dr. D. said…

    KG, difficult to change some of these things. We all have to be aware of our personal safety.

    And while class prejudice does exist (here and in many other places), there are many of us who are preceived as being 'upper class' or 'uptowners' who
    are quite aware of what priviliges we have, but at the same time do feel for those who are not as priviliged as we may be. It is how one lives with others and the way in which we interact with others that makes the big difference.

     
  • At 9:55 pm, Blogger Ale said…

    I have never been to jamaica, but i think what you are describing is something that happens "at home", because "abroad" any ol' trip to the grocery store for some bread is a chance for an adventure. doing the mondane stuff "at home" just doesnt have the sam appeal.

    i live in nyc- and had some visitors from overseas one year for New Years Eve... they all wanted to go to Times square to celebrate... i ofcourse said I would NEVER be cought dead with "commoners' but if i was say in Rome- i'd be right there in the croud of screaming drunk people loving every second!

     
  • At 3:42 pm, Blogger Irie Latino said…

    Hmm...let's see. Music that degrades women, music that advocates shooting gays and "informers"...this is the norm in Jamaica...this is the popular culture...how could I not be a snob? A total lack of discipline on the streets where drivers (particularly those in the white toyota hatchbacks with the red plates and the minibus drivers...mi nah hide it man,,,mi ah talk it!) pay no attention to their own safety, their passengers' safety and the safety of other drivers. A lack of discipline many times when we have to get into a line to pay for something in a store...how many times have I had confrontations with these people cutting in front of me and the cashiers who serve them...how can I not be a snob. And by the way...have you noticed on the local entertainment channels that once you reach celebrity status you start to "chat bad" even if you used to speak proper english before...I won't call any names but you all know who you are. Why do we have to appease the "chat bad" people...I mean shouldn't we be leading by example. I have nothing against patois and slang but how are we going to promote proper English if we are going to use patois and slang for official interviews just to prove that we are one of the crew. To all you new "uptown" artists out there I just want to say that no matter how badly you speak in an interview I still know that you live in Cherry Gardens, ok? You still have no street cred...get used to it. And that goes for the clothes you are wearing, too. Yep, this is the popular culure so I guess I am a snob. I'm also tired of the "I am just expressing the views of the people" excuse. I sing about killing "battyman" because that's what the people want, I sing about murdering informers because that's how ghetto peope feel, yes I am nastily degrading women but that's what the people want...ok I get it...YOU'RE WITH STUPID THEN!...well I'm not, so I guess I am a snob. Look, there's a lot wrong with this country and it is getting worse because people who know better seem to feel that the right thing to do is let those who don't know better go unchallenged. We feel this way because somehow those of us who are luckier financially and more "privileged" think that we owe that to them. We don't owe that to anyone. What those of us who can make a difference owe to this country is leadership, compassion and support for those who need it, equal righs and justice for all people and working for a system that will benefit and uplift everyone. Whew, what a rant this turned out to be...and I could go on:)

     
  • At 3:47 pm, Blogger Island Spice said…

    KG, such is the reality of the Caribbean. Labour and by extension service is cheap so more of us can afford to pay for things we would bloody well do ourselves in developed countries.
    Its good that your job keeps you grounded, I have many friends in JA and the rest of the islands who really have no contact at all with the 'common' folk.
    That said.. I am guilty of all you mentioned, and more ..

     
  • At 8:00 pm, Blogger Guyana-Gyal said…

    Your examples don't sound like 'snob', they sound more like being safe.

     
  • At 12:51 pm, Blogger Melody said…

    Just gotta luv how Latino lists all de 'perps' 1 by 1.

     
  • At 11:24 pm, Blogger Yamfoot said…

    One of the reasons I like being in Grenada, is that I don't feel that great divide that I do in Jamaica.

    I decided not to buy a car, so that I could lose weight. The spin off is that I get to mix with everyday people who walk and take bus. Because the people are generally friendly and non-aggressive, walking to and from work (total 35 - 40 mins) is such a pleasure.

    At heart, I am a socialist. I would ensure that everybody had equal opportunity in life, to make something of themselves. I think the other view is that whomever can make money, good for them.

    Give everybody the same education, the same opportunities as those people who have it all, and you'd be surprised what somebody from Gem Road in Kingston 11 could turn out to be!

    And sometimes, we think that people who live below Cross Roads don't have feelings anad therefore can be spoken to and treated in any way, and that really breaks my heart. That is one of the great lessons that my parents taught us, that you have to speak politely to everybody and treat everybody like family.

    Ok, i dont know if that is what this post was about but that's what I wanted to comment.

    And oh,,,,the first time in Sainsbury in Guildford, I stood up there looking around wondering where di hell is the packer! How shocked was I that I had to pack my own bags! Then I had to pack some things in the knapsack and each time I went to the supermarket, I would try and get better timing, so that I wouldnt keep up all the other people in line.

    Now, in Jamaica, if there is no packer, I start to pack it myself. And when the cashier calls for a packer, because how dare the customer have to pack his own groceries, I tell her it's ok.

     
  • At 8:13 pm, Blogger Island Man said…

    CARIBLINKZ.COM is your one stop shop to everything Caribbean. We have finally found away to bring all of the great and exciting features of the Caribbean to your computer screen. With CARIBLINKZ.com you'll find everything from Politics and Government organizations to Restaurants and Culture and so much more.

    Planning a trip or just curious here is your way to become a tourist in the comfort of your own home or to just refresh and update your current knowledge. CARIBLINKZ.com provides you with exclusively Caribbean content that ensures to keep you informed. So add CARIBLINKZ.com to your favourites because when you have something that you need to find in the Caribbean you'll already have the ONLY link that you'll ever need. Search-Find-Connect.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home