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

  1. You mistake politeness for weakness and pretentiousness. Then again, I wouldn’t expect too much out of a culture that still widely practices reprisal killings.

    1. It’s funny how you came here to tell people you don’t know that they’re mean by being a dick yourself. Ironic, isn’t it? But I wouldn’t expect too much from some random idiot who probably widely considers himself a “polite Nice Guy ™ Nice try though! C+ for effort! 🙃

  2. As an American raised by a Jamaican single mother… I do believe Jamaicans have serious emotional and social issues. Depending on their education level will determine how well they can hide it. Obviously there are exceptions to anything meaning there are lots of great Jamaicans out there. However the culture promoted is NOT one of educated communication. They’ll be the first to get offended while also telling you not to be offended. Good communication, psychology ect is not culture in my opinion. It’s science (tested facts). Which means choosing to ignore it or only use it in the work place speaks volumes on the kind of person you are. If i were building a paradise where everyone was to cohabitate and get along, I wouldn’t be looking for the majority of Jamaicans. Id be looking for a minority of them.. You can find articles written by well educated and distinguished Jamaicans who agree.

    1. Hello David, I am sorry to hear you have a terrible relationship with your mother. And that your mommy issues have compelled you to write off an entire group of people based on your bad experiences. As someone actually born, raised, and educated on the island among millions of Jamaicans and who has lived in FOUR countries, I disagree with you.

      But if your external hate makes it easier to live with the parts of you, you dislike, that your mother helped create, that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat. I do find it interesting that you’re centered on your single mother and not the missing father, regardless of his nationality. Or, presumably, he passed? You didn’t say.

      Anyway, I wish you healing and happiness, however healthy way you may find it.

    2. You have a unique and valued dual perspective from both sides. Im sure the your mom is not the only Jamaican you know so youve been able to observe a lot. As a African American woman I have repeatedly had Jamaican women in restaurants and businesses who are total strangers to me treat me in a manner that’s borderline insane from a business point of view. We will have had no conversation for them to take an offense to and they will talk rudely, not hand me my food, take the customer BEHIND me as if Im not standing there. I mean what kind of stuff is this and what deep place does it come from. Again they don’t know me, the only thing Im guilty of is patronizing their business. So Im not buying these rote explanations for this kind of behavior. Its borderline hatred if not exactly that. All these admission are strange. “We are not mean, we’re just mean to non Jamaicans because we don’t like folks who are different from us”, sound more truthful. I like people from other cultures and like to learn about other cultures so God forbid I actually do smile at you and have no motive. According to these explanations, Id be wrong for that. So there seems to be some deeper prejudices that are across the board towards AAs. Maybe the pride spoken of won’t allow for the deeper issues to be brought into the open and honestly discussed. My sister had a serious surgery and the nurse left in charge of her was so nasty to my sister it was unbelievable. She had been cut straight down the middle so her stomach muscles we not working and my sister needed help to sit up a bit. She refused to help her and snatched her hand awa and actually never spoke. We were shocked. And then she went back to her desk and literally just sat there and just stared at us literally with a very hateful stare. I did not feel my sister was safe. So I told the head person to keep her away from my sister and to assign my sister a different nurse. That energy had nothing to do with being blunt or upfront. There is definitely more to this type of behavior than is being admitted to. Im sure it makes the powers that be really happy because insures isolation. After all divide and conquer has always worked for them against black peoples all over the world. I thankful that I’ve met two or three who do not act anything like that. That proves that only certan people behave like this. Now if it a case of we will reject you before you get a chance to reject and make fun of us, that would be an understandable learned defense mechanism. Coming from a poorer country and being made fun of would tick anyone off so I get that. But even that is not everyone’s reaction to other cultures. Sounds like there’s some deep hurt. The question yet to be answered is why were you all raised to be this way. What was the catalyst for this cultural disposition? Why were you all taught to always be on the attack when dealing with those who are from different cultures? Those are the real questions people want to know the answer to. Then maybe this dialog can serve a better purpose than to stir up defensiveness and insults. I’d Really like to know. Like I said Im interested in other cultures. Can you leave some links to the research you’ve come across. Im very interested to know where this stems from historically.

      1. This was a lot of words to say you don’t like us and want to feel justified for doing so. Bad interactions with people from a specific group doesn’t make ALL people in that group bad. Not even most of us. I am Jamaican born and raised. I moved to America at 26 years old, so damn skippy, my mom isn’t the only Jamaican I know, lol.

        I will say that Jamaicans are not known for our customer service. It’s kinda hilarious considering we make our money from tourism on the island, but outside of tourism, good luck with customer service. I certainly won’t deny that. I also suspect they just don’t like you. We don’t do “Southern hospitality.” If we don’t like you, you will know it. And based on this long rant, I can see why they don’t like you. I don’t like you either.

        However, the idea that we hate AAs is crazy. Every day, I am out here with these rednecks at RV parks defending Black Lives Matter and AA causes and then I come on the internet and see messages like this from you guys. So, who is it that dislikes the other? You can’t even let Jamaicans alone in peace on a public forum, so I already know you don’t defend us the way we defend you when in hateful spaces. Thus, the better questions is ARE YOU ALL RAISED to see everyone as the enemy? Because it seems to be really prevalent in America.

        I really could just mind my business at camp because they have no issues with me. It’s AAs specifically that they dislike and I constantly have to argue for you guys on why WE (Jamaicans) are different and seem easier to get along with (they say this, not me). Lucky for you, I don’t care if rednecks think I’m nice or not. A lot of them are pissed when I rebut their remarks. So, I will continue to speak up when they make ignorant statements and unfair comparisons, even though I can count on equally ignorant statements from people like you as thanks.

        I wish you all the best and hope you heal.

    1. I honestly think it’s the other way around and not just for Jamaicans. I have a Haitian family member, for instance, who shared that it wasn’t the White kids telling him to go back to his country. It was the African Americans.

      Meanwhile, when I lived in Georgia, there were African Americans protesting at universities that affirmative action shouldn’t be open to other non-White races/ethnicities and that Black people from other countries shouldn’t have access either. These are part of ADOS ideology, which we have also overwhelmingly encountered online. In fact, I find that me and many of my family members and friends have experienced more aggression and inappropriate behaviour from African Americans than White Americans, which is not what any of us expected when we arrived. We won’t even get into the comments made when we chose not to support that Shacari girl after she disrespected one of our Jamaican athletes.

      I currently live in Mexico and the Mexicans I know have also made a keen observation and distinction between African Americans and the West Indians they know, myself included. I can’t begin to describe how their demeanor changes toward me when they find out I’m not American, but Jamaican. And this has happened in EVERY country I travel to.

      Why is that? I don’t know. I suspect it’s not the actual race, but a reaction to US nationality and the culture that comes with it? I leave the Americans to ponder that one.

  3. It depends on your experience and identity. If you’re LGBTQ then there is documented truth to Jamaican being hostile.

    1. Jamaica is definitely an extremely homophobic country. This is rapidly changing, but not fast enough. That said, homophobia is not “mean”. That’s blatantly hateful behavior and a completely separate topic from what we’re discussing here.

      1. Id like to make an observation on the fact that Jamaicans are not for homosexuality. There is a legit historical basis for that. The disgusting and wicked raping of black men in front of their wives and children during enslavement by whites would totally create a total intolerance of this type of behavior or practice. And personally I support them in their rejection of it. Its was a practice that was weaponized to break the strong black slaves who fought against enslavement. And I believe it is again being weaponized to break the culture from within. Historically speaking why would they be ok with it.

      2. Hello Angela, I hear and respect your right to your opinion. But there is no correlation between the consensual LGBTQIA+ movement living their lives today vs. dominance-related rape that occured during slavery and still occurs in prison and other places.

        There are many Jamaicans who are gay today, and they deserve the right to live in their own country without prejudice or fear for their safety. Gayness is not a “White disease.” I had many Black gay friends in high school and college. Sadly, many of them spent years in the closet, not out of fear of acceptance, but fear for their safety on the island. That is not ok.

        As I said, your opinions are yours to have, but I can’t agree with anything that infringes on the civil rights of people to live peacefully amongst their brothers and sisters.

  4. 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 the subset of American culture that’s “hood” versus Jamaican culture 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. @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!

      3. Nothing you people ever do is wrong in your own eyes. You have a glaring sense of entitlement and a stunning lack of self-awareness.
        Perhaps you Jamaicans ought to follow your mother’s advice and examine why so many people don’t like them. What’s the common denominator there?
        I won’t hold my breath for that, since you likely don’t have the cranial capacity to ponder such things as they pertain to yourself.
        Now block me too, since you hate the truth.

      4. LMFAO! I am so glad we are on the same page, because I feel exactly the same about you, Jose. I have your email address and your IP address, so request to be blocked has been granted. Bye bye ^_^

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