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 โ€” 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 โ€” 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 whatย 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 โ€” 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 โ€”ย 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 โ€” and how much we love that! โ€” 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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21 thoughts on “Why Are Jamaicans So Mean? (Jamaicans Give Their Answers!)

  1. I enjoy entries like these! That section on exploiting our culture really had me thinking bout those “bad days” THEY should avoid๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ I can remember one of the last persons that I met, my friends friend, not my friend enuh, who almost immediately drew from his “wah gwaan” catalog of Jamaican fight starters kit. As soon as he did the accent mi tell him mi ago tump him Inna him throat. HE made me mean. He’s since then been mostly afraid of me. I absolutely abhor it! Just speak the English you know๐Ÿ™„ or at least be my friend first and feel me out. Some friends do it and I ignore it. On good days.๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Heck my husband, before he was my husband did it and I allowed it cause I liked him๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ but I hate it. Maybe you can help me find words for why I hate it so much. It just feel like mocking. The tone they use sounds so patronizing and unintelligent. Maybe that’s it. But I loved thisโฃ๏ธ

    1. I hate it too but my mom especially hates it. The look she gives you after. Mom isn’t very good at keeping her facial expressions in check. ๐Ÿ˜…

      I would say, “In my culture, imitation is not flattery.” That’s how I explain it to them. Some take my word and chill. Others think it’s hilarious and keep going anyway, then wonder why I don’t talk to them.

      Maybe mi need fi tump one inna him troat. A juss chue mi fraid a prison innuh! ๐Ÿ˜ญ

    1. Ha! You’re right about that. I tell Americans that they think Black women are sassy because we’re not afraid to say NO and mean it.

  2. Alexis, I always get a kick out of your posts in which you write about Jamaican folklore, language, and cultural behavior. You probably have enough for a little book๐Ÿค”!

    1. LoL you guys come back with this book thing again? You’re not tricking me into writing another one. ๐Ÿคฃ

  3. This has been fascinating, thank you! I sometimes feel we can learn as much about cultures from the perception of stereotypes (as you address how Jamaicans see how Americans see Jamaicans) as we do from actually talking to someone from those cultures.

    You’re never going to get away from stereotypes and from all the people I’ve met, all the countries and cultures, every culture has them.

    1. I knew you’d find this, haha! Thanks for contributing to the mix!

      I don’t think I’ll ever escape the stereotypes people have of us, which is why sometimes I don’t bother saying where I’m from. The weed stereotype is the one that gets on my nerves.

      When they think you’re aggressive though, that sometimes works in your favour. ๐Ÿ˜… Especially as a woman who tends to travel alone.

    2. I agree. That’s why I like to do these. I think First Worlders often pay a lot of attention to how they view others and not enough attention to how we view them and how we view them viewing us. Jamaicans have that skilled ingrained in us to look beyond ourselves because we are a culture of many cultures and we like to absorb new ones.

      No escaping the stereotypes though! Even Jamaicans hold proud stereotypes about themselves so that makes it worse for the rest of us to whom those stereotypes do not apply.

      1. That’s an interesting way of looking at it. And funny you say “pay a lot of attention to how they see others” because I experienced this on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Will email you when I have a window in this quite busy week.

      2. No prob. I’ll keep an eye out. ๐Ÿ˜… I realised you must be busy as I actually had time today and checked my inbox but nothing from you yet. ๐Ÿ˜†

      3. Noted! I should have some free time again today. Want to really check out that website you mentioned as soon as possible too. ๐Ÿ™ƒ

    1. Please stay out of trouble this Monday morning! ๐Ÿ˜…

      And thanks for reading. ๐Ÿ™‚

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