Why Are Jamaicans So Mean? (Jamaicans Give Their Answers!)

Most people who visit Jamaica describe us as friendly and helpful. They praise our customer service and wish they could learn to live at our more laidback pace. We know how to party until the sun comes up and can just as easily relax at home and sleep through the Sunday rainfall. We are an “unbothered” people — for the most part.

Still, there is another side of Jamaicans. We generally don’t beat around the bush. We are forward and direct. Because of this, many foreigners see us as aggressive, especially when they work with us. Even while enjoying social time, non-Jamaicans often mistake our loud conversations for fights.

Soon enough, someone asks the question, “Why are Jamaicans so mean?” In fact, not only is this the search query that brings a lot of people to my blog, but it’s also a question I get asked often.

Instead of trying to answer this one myself, I’ve enlisted the help of fellow Jamaicans to tell you why we are so mean after all — or that you’re totally mistaken.

1. We Prefer Direct Communication

I dislike Southern Hospitality. Every time a Southerner gives me this as their reason for why the South East is a great place to live, I burst their bubble by telling them that this is precisely what I hate about it and why I don’t trust them. At this point, their eyes are bulging out of their heads.

So, I explain, “I come from a culture where if we don’t like you, we make it perfectly clear. I can respect that. What I have zero respect for is the White lady waving to me while standing under the Confederate flag over her front porch. That makes zero sense to me and I’m not waving back.”

Put more simply, we are not a culture that beats around the bush and we dislike people who do. This is the number one reason Jamaicans gave for why so many people think we’re downright mean.

2. We Engage in Playful Aggression

Have you ever seen two Germans having an exciting conversation before? Chances are, you assumed they were arguing. But, were they really? The German accent is very aggressive. If you’ve never seen jokes about this in pop culture before, I’ll start you off with this video.

The same is true of the Jamaican accent. It sounds aggressive. When you add a few decibels and fast hand movements, you’re left wondering if you should run for your life. Maybe you should, but half the time we’re just playing around. We could lose patience with a friend in two seconds and then be fine again in five.

3. You Crossed the Line

Jamaicans do not take kindly to insults. Reprisal killings make up a significant portion of our murder rate in Jamaica. No, I’m not saying we’re going to kill you if you say the wrong thing.

What I am saying is that we have a culture of responding aggressively when you cross the line. If you think a Jamaican is being mean that’s probably because we thought the same of you and decided to show you what mean really is.

4. You’re Exploiting Our Culture

In some cultures, imitation is flattery. A prime example of this is America. When you come to the U.S., Americans want you to look American and sound American. Bring the food from your culture, but please do leave everything else at the door. Your religion, your language — all of that can go.

Jamaica is the opposite. In our culture, imitation is an insult. We absolutely hate when you meet us for the first time, and five seconds into learning we’re Jamaican, you’re trying to sound like us and talking about “Jamaican mon” and “Bob Marley.” On a good day and if you’re a tourist, we might let this slide.

On a bad day? Just try not to catch us on a bad day, eh?

5. We Have Finite Patience

As one tweep explained, we have a short temper and an even shorter supply of patience. Generally speaking, we don’t like stupid questions and we hate repeating ourselves. On a good day, we’ll humour you. If you catch us on a bad day, well — I already warned you about our bad days.

6. You’re Mistaken

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed is that foreigners who spend a lot of time around Jamaicans are genuinely confused by the question, “Why are Jamaicans so mean?” The thought never crossed their minds. I’m not sure if that says more about their own personality types than our culture, but we sure welcomed them when they came running to our defence!

7. You Don’t Understand the Cultural Differences

At the heart of all this is that some cultures and the specific people within them perceive Jamaican cultural cues as too aggressive because of the lenses they look through. If they took the time to understand that we are a less restrained and more expressive culture — and how much we love that! — they would understand why we feel less inclined to meet their own cultural standards.

Being prim and proper has its time and place, but applied to us outside of a formal setting, it often stinks of Eurocentric ideals.

The Final Verdict

So, what’s the main takeaway here? Jamaicans are not mean. We’re aggressive, but not mean. We like to yell at each other, but we’re just joking around. If you look awful in that dress, we will tell you so and hurt your feelings. But wouldn’t you rather know now than later?

If you have Jamaicans in your life, cherish them. While we do have some exceptions, most of us are the most genuine people you could ever hope to meet. If we hurt your feelings yesterday, we’re sorry, but thicken up that skin because Lord knows we might do it again tomorrow!

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39 thoughts on “Why Are Jamaicans So Mean? (Jamaicans Give Their Answers!)

  1. I could definitely see what Marty was saying. Listen, how I see is it that Jamaica has it’s own culture just as any culture mixed from its traditions environment and a fingerprint of factors. The culture doesnt define everyone there but can be found in many. From what I have observed it is a egoistic culture. Before you pop off and take egoistic for completely bad or your own definition… we are all egoistic it’s part of our survival nature. It comes out in society through materialism and other behaviours and characteristics. They aren’t necessarily bad that’s to each owns interpretation but to me I see a lot of this materialism in Jamaicans. Dressing to the nines. Having little but putting on the fake diamonds. Spending everything on the BMW. Again ot all are like this of course, but it’s a trend. Being done up to the nines.
    There is also an attitude of being a bad man or bad gyal. This all feeds into the done up looking good sexy thing. Then we get to the attitude of being tough. Straight forward. Blunt. Aggresive. Where the ego part comes in like Marty said is when they get it back. Usually a toughness like this and materialism is surface meaning a deeper weakness.of some sort. This is inevitable as attaching your worth and identity to external ‘things’ creates a very unstable self worth which is affected by the external. Therefore when those blunt comments or people do get some kind of blunt thing or criticism back, my god they do not take it well. You can see the sensitivity between the hard shell. They will talk about it for days. They will cut out people because they get so hurt. They will lash back. They will defend. They’ll tell you you cant take critisim and a second later you’ll give constructive critisim and they’ll get defensive then turn it around on you and attack. And then later still swear they take critisim fine it’s you with the problem.

    These are all symptoms of living more from ego seen in any culture. There is also a what many call today ‘toxic maculinity’ part of the culture. Men being very bossy to women, using them, cheating. This is all also part of ego and a learned hardened exterior they have. But they also cant handled being cheated on for example. It’s a hard exterior with a soft interior and lack of emotional control. At noones fault of there own. But it is this way.

    They can be very mean. I know some very nice jamaicans but if you date a jamaican man especially who grew up poor and had to be even harder. Be careful. They deserve love just like anyone else but you have to take care of yourself too

    Funny to see the comment above from Marty and what came across as defensive reply from the author.

    1. I am sorry that that has been your experience with Jamaicans, but I cannot say the same as someone born and raised in the country and who has lived in two other countries since then. Maybe that’s the Jamaicans you attracted and the circles you moved in.

      You are correct that there is a lot of pride in our culture, which is why the lion is such a big symbol in Jamaica. However, your observation of how that pride plays out is shallow and inaccurate. Maybe you knew a lot of poor Jamaicans and poor people have similar problems anywhere. What you described, for instance, sounds more correct of African-American “hood culture” to me than Jamaicans at large.

      Pride primarily plays out in CLASS structure in Jamaica. We are not a racist society, but a classist one. People do not posture for looks and ego. They do so because CLASS is what runs our society and money is not the only determining factor associated with class for us. It also comes down to where you went to school, where you work, who you know, what you drive, where you live, how often you travel, the first impression you give off, how you carry yourself, etc. Personally, I much prefer this over America where you can be the President of the United States and still be called a N1gg3r and asked for your birth certificate.

      As for the “hurt” when criticized, this one had me laughing. Jamaican culture has something called “gimmicks” where literally all we do is make fun of each other. We grow up learning how to dish it and how to take it. And that goes for everyone, women included. Jamaican men can try to boss Jamaican women around all they like, but unlike America, we have a predominantly Black Matriarchal culture. I know that’s bizarre for Americans and most other nationalities because America is a White Patriarchy. Also, what many outsiders view as us fussing is us having a good time. There are no hurt feelings, but if you don’t know our culture you would assume otherwise. I’ve seen it happen all the time, particularly with Americans sticking their nose into our business when we were perfectly fine. Here we are laughing and some random person comes over to ask why we’re arguing. Like…what??

      You have judged Jamaican culture through what I assume is American lenses, but our culture is much richer and much deeper than your surface-deep analogy. All the best.

  2. I never thought Jamaicans were mean! I guess I can see how people with less sense could simplify it to that.

    What I’ve noticed more is that yes they are blunt and straightforward for the most part and aggressive which is fine but it tends to be biased straightforwardness. The annoyance of a person and going on about them or off at them can be so intriguing to watch as the person freaking out is also usually guilty of the same offenses. They might tell someone their question is dumb but go on to ask an even ‘dumber’ question but dont dare try to tell them theirs was dumb.

    No humans like to be critisized or wrong but the force seems stronger in the jamaican culture. The more bold and straightforward someone is the more they seem to be this way. The softer spoken ones seem less of this. It’s usually a symptom of a fragile ego which is understandable because the culture is also very egotistical and ego is seen as mainly positive to them. And there is big emphasis and focus on peoples external identity and value. Clothes, looks, being right, what they have or can do… with a lack of intrinsic worth and emotional understanding. Theres a big detachment there. So people will be very unbothered straightforward and confident but it is attached to those outer things so they will put you down for your dumb question like I said but will not want to hear about their own. They may even argue to the death that it wasnt or just let what you say pass by with blissful ignorance as they reassure themselves.

    1. Your experiences are yours and your observations are your own. But, I can assure you, if you ask anyone in the world who you’ve just described, they would tell you: AN AMERICAN. I have immigrant friends from all around the world and that is precisely how we view America and its people. Thanks for commenting.

  3. See, I too came here trying to understand why some woman with a Jamaican accent on the phone made me want to beat her senseless! I just wanted the chance to get back at her.

    Oh yeah I’m French-Canadian. We’re assholes when we’re mad.

    This is indeed an example of a misunderstanding based on cultural differences, and of course the woman on the phone was not being a monster. (She was probably just pissed that she’s in Canada in winter!)

    I had an Acadian mother and believe me, her French-Canadian behaviour was seen as very aggressive over in English Canada.

    This person who had negative experiences, I wonder if she’s from a northern European background, because I know I need to keep my eyebrows from moving around them. I’ve had to explain to a Scottish-Canadian that I’m only joking with my abusive humour.

    So my tendency if someone was yelling at me would be to yell back “why are you such an a88hole today?!! ” 🙂 But even through the yelling, chances are we’ll reach an understanding.

    What can you accomplish by not having a conversation that might solve problems?

    Pretty sure I’d have a great time in Jamaica.

    1. Hello Marie! I appreciate your outlook and will say that we get on much better with Canadians than Americans, in Jamaica. Canadians are not as bossy and the Commonwealth ties sometimes makes it easier for us to catch the dry humour.

      I don’t know much about French Canada, so I’ll have to take your word for it! But, I can definitely see how the French can be more “passionate” then the northerners are used to. Remember, the Irish suffer the same fate despite being quite northern themselves. 😂

      I’m not sure what that lady’s problem was. I think it’s silly to think Jamaicans are assholes and then wander into the lion’s den thinking she stands a chance. 🤣

      Happy new year!

  4. @alexis

    I didn’t say jamaicans invented rudeness either. That’s on you once more. My “anecdote”, as you condescendingly put it (there’s that jamaican charm again), comes from working with only Jamaicans for the last 2 and a half years. It’s by far a more solid argument than “ask anyone in the world”. Seek peace. Seek therapy. Flee from projections. Peace out.

    1. I can see why the Jamaicans you’ve met have not liked you. My mother always says when we keep having negative experiences in life, we should consider that we’re the common denominator and then examine why that is. I’m not the one on someone else’s website wailing and complaining. You are. So, it is not me who needs peace or therapy. That would be you, darling.

      As you clearly have nothing meaningful to say, you have been blocked from further correspondence.

      1. I thank you for the education about Jamaican culture. I appreciate knowing how to not offend and not be offended.
        I read the comments made by anonymous about the bullying and rudeness and I can’t help but wonder if that person didn’t fully grasp cultural differences.
        A friend I have from the middle east explained how giving a thumbs up is actually the same as giving the middle finger in the U.S.
        Cultures can vary so widely and be so nuanced, it is fascinating to me.
        🙏

      2. Hello Kim! So sorry, I’m just seeing this. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’m glad you found this useful and informative.

        That lady didn’t come to find answers. She came to vent and be offensive, so who can say what her actual thoughts are? I wish her all the best.

        Thanks again for stopping by!

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