Our motto masks no issuesThursday, July 09, 2020
Columnist Louis E A Moyston in his piece 'Racism: Alive and well in Jamaica', published in the Jamaica Observer on July 7, 2020, wrote that, “The race and colour problems in Jamaica are denied and rejected in the motto chosen: Out of Many One People.” Such an interpretation is a misrepresentation of the different ethnic groups that came to Jamaica.
The Jamaican heritage admixture, as shared in the article, 'Out of many, one people — our heritage' ( Observer October 22, 2019), includes, but is not limited to “the Akan people (Twi, Ashanti, Akyem) along with other Africans from the Dante and Bono people, followed by Igbo, Yoruba, Ettu, and Fon people, Ibibio people, and Congo or Guinea people along with the Indian, Chinese and Europeans”.
We also have descendants of the Miskito and Tainos.
Ethnicity does not apply only to the Indians and Chinese who originally came as indentured labourers.
Ethnicity refers to the cultural characteristics of someone. In this sense, ethnicity is something that is not always visible. Ethnicities are therefore not an exclusive term for other groups outside of Africa. Failure to recognise that most Jamaicans have an heritage admixture of these different ethnicities leads to the ultimate misunderstanding of our identity and the role that ethnicity plays in Africa. To exclude African descendants with the designated one cap Africans classification is misleading. This one-name-fits-all cap was the first act of emasculating people of African descent, since it struck at the very root of identity.
Out of Many One People is not a “mask”, but a factual reality of who we are as a nation.
Dudley C McLean II
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