Struggle of Jamaican Immigrants

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When an idea is expressed, closely related ideas are simultaneously conveyed logically. The idea that many teachers and parents express to young children as a way of knowing themselves: ‘Where are you from?’. In logic, the answer would be simple enough to respond to where they were born. Most likely, for Jamaican immigrants who moved to America, their situation could be a little bit different. The new multiculturalism background not only changes the life of Jamaican immigrants, but also challenges their Jamaican privilege. In the face of the impact of multiculturalism, Jamaican immigrants adhere to their culture and strive to integrate into the new environment.

Most people would use the word geography synonymously with identity as if the physical appearance were solely responsible for explaining one’s privilege. To figure out why moving overseas tremendously challenges Jamaican immigrants’ privilege, one has to understand the impact of living in a brand-new culture background. In ‘On Shelf’, Yolande decided to pursue a PhD in Caribbean literature, but the island Jamaica, where she was born, no longer draws much attention to her (Alexia, 222). In Yolande’s story, Jamaican was not a place where she would not call it home. “When she is dead, I imagine that the island will feel less like home because there won’t be anyone return for” (Alexia, 224). For Yolande, after spending several years in the U.S., she already owned her life that she was enjoying. If it wasn't because of her mother, the island she was born would gradually disappear in Yolande’s life. Perhaps geography may explain one’s privilege, but the place where the individual spent most of life would determine one's destiny. Born and raised in Jamaica, to Yolande, she would never forget the island where she was born, but the island itself would gradually fade. Some return to the island of their birth only means memory because they have spent so much time away living overseas.

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Alexia also demonstrates the ideas of race that inform the life of every day. In chapter ‘Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands’ states: “‘The Bay Area’, she told me, and it was clear that she was not particularly interested in me, that although we were both black women” (Alexia, 6). Two college students were both Jamaicans, yet Cecilia’s California claim upbringing causes the other to question her racial identity. The Jamaican girl whose privileged West Coast has blinded another girl to the hard realities of race. Feeling is useful in directing one's attention to matters individuals might be interested in. For a first-time orientation, a Jamaican girl was trying to look for someone who seems familiar, that shares the same skin color with her. It would make sense, human being categorizes people based on an individual's color skin and body characters because those physical appearances demonstrate one's privilege. Similarities narrow the distance between strangers. For Jamaican immigrants, living overseas does not mean abandoning their familial privilege, even if the way they live is different than they used to, familial privilege still holds the power to restore original privilege, the culture they were shared with. They seek friendship and acceptance when living overseas, they are not all like others in the U.S., but almost the same because they simply don't share the same original privilege with others, they will adapt to U.S. culture eventually.

The movie ‘Life and Debt’ begins with a relaxing and happy music, which adds an atmosphere of optimistic. It was a black man, a Jamaican, a middle-aged man playing the piano (Keith, 2016). I began to see their optimism about life in the United States, which is a brand-new living environment for them. Later in the film, we can see that Jamaicans making living by groups. I believe there may be two reasons for this phenomenon. First of all, there are lots of other race people, who do not look up to them, even look down on them, in America. Thus, Jamaican are forced to stay in one single and small town. The second reason is that they are united in order to against other races people, and some of the difficulties that they face in their new place of life in the United States. However, I think even if they are hurt by other Americans, they are still optimistic. They want to climb to the top of America by their own efforts. In the film, there is a Jamaican who said: “I do not care nobody wants to say, I do not care nobody wants to do...I do not care, this is what I do for a living” (Keith, 2016). They are unmoved by the hurt and taunts of others and become stronger through the hurt of others. Later in the film, the same Jamaican said: “We are trying to climb to the top as a black, in Jamaica to here, it is a fight, mentally, physically” (Keith, 2016). That says a lot about the determination and purpose of Jamaicans. Through the film, we can know that their method is to improve their own quality, ability, and various aspects through learning. I think this is a good way.

However, I think this approach will take them a lot of time to complete, and in the meantime will Jamaicans be frustrated by the Americans? We don't know. Even now, the Jamaicans’ fight continues, and I can only hope that they persist and achieve their goals.


  1. Keith. (2017, January 14). Retrieved November 17, 2019, from
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Struggle of Jamaican Immigrants. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
“Struggle of Jamaican Immigrants.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
Struggle of Jamaican Immigrants. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
Struggle of Jamaican Immigrants [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from:

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