Jamaican Chinese

Jamaican Chinese

Last night, I was experiencing my typical “too early to sleep, so let’s see what’s on Netflix instant viewing” moment. I had just finished watching Frontier(s), which I could only describe as a genre bender cross-bred of Hostel, High Tension, and Devil’s Rejects, where the heroine fight survivalists-style with a family of neo-Nazi eugenics fanatics. English subtitled. No digital effects. Brutally unmerciful. Drained of any desire for more violent imagery (I’d rather be playing Grand Theft Auto IV), I was in the mood for human drama. After having logged into my Netflix account, I noticed the message: “Since you’ve enjoyed Boyz In The Hood and Carlito’s Way, we think you may like Shottas.” It looked intriguing, as it starred Ky-Mani Marley (son of Bob Marley), and co-starred Wyclef Jean and Tyson Beckford. So, I chose it as the film to spend the rest of my night with…

My exposure to Reggae and raggamuffin were mostly through hip-hop music of the 80s/90s era (when the music was good). So, I hadn’t realized my ignorance when I IMed Jess C. (whom was online at the time I was watching Shottas) that I should learn to talk in a Jamaican accent,”’cause it sounds cool.” I was being ironic as I’ve never seen or heard a Chinese person with a Jamaican accent. I had spoken too soon when a character in Shottas (which is Jamaican for “gangsters”) named Mr. Chin appeared on screen speaking the language of the Carribean.

I woke up the next day to a text from Betti Vaughn: LOL. this morning my mom’s friend’s hub showed up 2 fix our sprinkers n’ guess what he was?! Jamaican n’ Chinese. LOL – We were just talkin’ ’bout it last night. =D

Instinctively, I had to get on my computer and Google “Jamaican Chinese”. Apparently, there has been a historical significance of the Chinese emigrating/immigrating to Jamaica for about 150 years now, mostly to seek a better life than communist China provided. And that famous celebrities like Tyson Beckford and Naomi Campbell are of Jamaican and Chinese ancestries. Damn, the Chinese and Jamaicans must breed some good-looking people! “Most Chinese Jamaicans are Hakka (a subgroup of the Han Chinese people who live predominantly in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Fujian in China. In Mandarin it would be pronounced Kèjia) and can trace their origin to the Chinese labourers that came to Jamaica in the mid 19th to early 20th centuries,” according to Wikipedia. Most of the later generations immigrated to either the U.S. or Canada. “Assimilation has taken place through generations and few Chinese Jamaicans can speak Chinese today; most of them speak English or Jamaican Patois as their first language. The vast majority have anglicized given names, and many have Chinese surnames. The Chinese food culture has survived to a large degree among this group of people.” You can find a lot of info and historical aspects regarding the Chinese Jamaicans at ChineseJamaican.com.

Quite intriguing… but I wonder what a Chinese Jamaican Gangster would be like? Yah, mon.


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