Jamaicans Are Good For That

One evening, I forget the season exactly, a few of my cousins and I were hanging out in my cousin Laura’s bedroom. At some point, we began speculating about the outcomes of our lives. After Deena got her ‘papers’, she might go on to become a local political power broker; Laura would be a track star; Sharon, a financial whiz. Deena – bless her impertinent heart – said: ‘Silk is going to marry a white man.’

It was unbelievable. Everyone knew I loved to write. Shouldn’t she have built on that and gone for something more fantastic, like me becoming a world-famous author – or something? And what exactly was in my temperament that predisposed me to marry a white man?   

Over the years, I noticed that I got more attention from guys outside my race than from black men. I also noticed that three of my female cousins were married to white men. I didn’t think that any of this was extraordinary, because all the marriages seemed to function like every other marriage I observed, and a couple of my cousins have been married for 30+ years. Marriages built on superficial attitudes about beauty and social importance simply don’t last. But I remember mentioning that little tidbit to someone at work, and she said: ‘yeah, Jamaicans are good for that.’ I didn’t confront her about it, because I realized that she was partially right. If you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time working, living or socializing with a Jamaican, you might have noticed that we are not nearly as opposed to dating and marrying interracially as black Americans. Those are not bragging rights, because Jamaican pop culture tends to cherish light skin. Some people are completely blind to the beauty of a black woman who is not light skinned, and I touched on that theme in the post “She’s Pretty …”. Deena’s pronouncement might have been made in girlish mischief, but put together with what my co-worker said, it almost sounded like a damning confirmation of superficiality.  

So here I am, married to a really nice guy, who happens to be white.  He’s adventurous and personable. His family embraced me and the same is true of mine. After having lived with this guy for some time now, I have to say that my main aversion to the idea of marrying any white man – is that they were boys at some stage. Nose-picking, reptile-catching, running, screeching boys.  The kind that wrestle you for no good reason.  Or drag you down the stairs by your ankles. Or stare at your chest. NOT that my Hubby did all the abusive stuff, but every now and then he shows me that he is, indeed, a guy. Believe me folks; I weighed all sorts of questions before I let him slip the ring on my finger. Where would we live? What kind of spiritual life will we lead? How will the children be brought up and will they be well adjusted and healthy?  (Not, will they have ‘brown’ skin and ‘pretty’ hair?)  Actually, I do have more to say on the subject of what our future children might look like, if we have them, but that is for another post.

At the end of the day, the fact that my heritage is Jamaican, and that Jamaicans are infatuated with light skin was not enough inducement for me to run out and snag the first (actually fourth) guy outside my race that I could find.