The Jamaican Dream is the American Dream

A few days ago I came across a rather intriguing Jamaican blog called Warren’s Blog. Of particular interest today me is the blog post, What is the Jamaican Dream? I do agree with much of the themes on his blog, but the question posed in the title of the blog post betrays one of, if not the major faults with Jamaican society.

When one speaks of the American Dream, what is usually spoken about is the National Ethos of the United States. Put in simple terms, it is the belief that through hard work one can achieve upward social mobility, success and prosperity, usually symbolized by home ownership. Now I am not prepared to debate the claims of the American National Ethos. What I do wonder is, why do we need to have an “American Dream” and not a National Ethos?

To answer my own question, it is because we have not developed a proper national identity, choosing instead to obtain our self esteem from what Britain, and now America, thinks of us.  If we do indeed have a “Jamaican Dream”, then it is to get a degree, then migrate to the U.S. In fact it seems that the we have taken on the American Dream locally, except that we have replaced home ownership with motor vehicle ownership, minus the American dollars to buy the oil necessary to run such vehicles.

Can we develop our own national ethos? Perhaps, but that seems unlikely at this point, as we seem fixed on questions of means rather than ends. But wasn’t that always the main problem with the American Dream?


12 thoughts on “The Jamaican Dream is the American Dream”

  1. What do you see as the “Jamaican Identity” and according to that what ethos would you apply to it? Another question-Are Jamaicans more active politically and socially abroad than in the home country?

    1. Another question-Are Jamaicans more active politically and socially abroad than in the home country? I should add as a collective and these days.

      1. I think they are more involved in States than here. I see that the the expatriates want to be recognized as a constituency , so that they can vote in elections. And why shouldn’t they? Remittances from abroad are the biggest contributor to our GDP, and there are more of them abroad than in country itself.

    2. I’m working on a series about the Jamaican identity right now. Personally, I think that it should focus on our history from 1838 t0 1938 especially, remove Marcus Garvey as a National Hero, no National Heroes that haven’t been dead for 150 years. Insofar as our daily lives, I would advocate for a move away from our major banks (2 banks control 85 percent of the market for consumer banking) towards more venture capital and credit unions, more power to parish council rather national ministries, and a default on our debt (125 percent of our GDP)

      1. What is significant about that 100 year span? I’ll look it up but it information probably won’t give me your perspective.

        Breaking the monopoly in Jamaican finance and politics sounds like a good idea. That might give Jamaicans access to capital for investment, grow consumer spending, and bring more investment from Jamaicans abroad. What about human capital? Would it be beneficial for some Jamaicans to return? Could Jamaica benefit from the same immigrant influx as the US? Why or Why not?

        This is fun:)

  2. I watched Small Island although the film does the book no justice. according to the book the dream used to be to get to the “motherland” England post WWII…now it is the U.S.?

    1. Satan:

      The American Dream is but a farce. Therefore the Jamaican Dream follows suit. The Ethos shouldn’t be contingent upon material goods but spiritual awakening. I’m sad to realize we work hard just to be even poorer and kept, purposefully, in debt.

      It’s all an illusion.

      1. Exactly. But its even worse for us because we have to trade Jamaican dollars in order to get the US dollars in order to import (most of our industries were destroyed by neoliberalism and a banking crisis/bailout i the mid 90s) the foreign goodies like cars and whatnot. Thus we get a massive tradevdeficit, and dollar devaluation.

    2. I’ll watch that movie. But for most people, especially poor middle class who don’t want social mobility, yeah. And if not that, it is to be recognized by the Americans through music and athletics.

  3. Something I’ve always wondered:

    Why is there so much animus between Jamaicans and Americans? Islanders were dropped off first from West Africa(predominantly) and the America’s followed.

    It seems that this Animosity is never ending. Many american blacks are offended if asked whether or not they are islanders….We are all from the same place, no? So why the madness?

    1. Because I’m from Kingston 20, and you people are from – wherever. Fuck that Africa shit. What the fuck West Africa has to do with shit? You see West Asians allying? How about French and German Americans? Didn’t think so.

  4. we have not developed a proper national identity, choosing instead to obtain our self esteem from what Britain, and now America, thinks of us.

    Is it not an inevitable consequence of being a “peripheral” country?
    Most former colonies have excessively extrovert economies. Jamaica is strongly dependant of US dollars (through tourism and mining, its 2 main sources of income – not to mention debts through the IMF), its “elite” has strong ties with the USA and Britain and the country happens to have important diasporas in the States and the UK. Add to this the fact that Jamaica (whose monarch is still, technically, the queen of the UK) is geographically, economically and politically in the sphere of influence of the USA…
    All this is bond to have strong symbolical repercussions on whatever national ethos the Jamaicans have in common.

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