Of Roots, Heritage and Identity Crisis

I sat at my dinner table on the verge of an identity crisis. My mom was empathically informing me that she didn’t identify as Jamaican. All my life, I had known both my parents to be Jamaican. My dad was born and raised in Jamaica, while my mom was born in Massachusetts and raised in Jamaica. Now, my mom was embracing all her heritage. In honor of my heritage widening let me tell you the countries I now need to visit to find myself.


I have been to Jamaica as a little child, but I want to go again as an adult to better see the places that my parents called home. I want to experience the culture and soaking the history.

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Little me hanging out in Jamaica


Apparently, my great-great-great grandparents are from Scotland. The land of the bagpipes, the lochs, the jagged green landscape and the stone castles. While it is the land of my distant past, I am curious about the secrets that are distantly connected to me.




Known as the dark continent, this is probably the scariest of all the places of my heritage. Not so much because of the stigma, but because my heritage is so fuzzy. We don’t know exactly from where our African ancestors hail. Likely from West Africa, but what country? We don’t really know which of our traditions come from those mysterious people who were forced across the ocean against their will.



I felt my heart creeping up into my throat as I got to the race section on the application from. All my life I had checked: Black/African American. If the form was really progressive, I could check: Black Caribbean. However, this time I paused. The form was asking me if I was Hispanic. In menacing italics it insisted that this included of people Cuban descent. My maternal grandmother was born and raised in Cuba as were my aunts. Yet, my mom grew up speaking English as did I. Hablo español ahora, pero no es mi primer idioma (I speak Spanish now, but it isn’t my first language). I checked the box because technically I am Hispanic.

I realized that I need to visit that little island in the Caribbean where my maternal grandparents were born. The country of vintage cars, colorful buildings, big fat cigars and beautiful people. The island rich with culture –the second island of my heritage.



Where are you from?


I don’t remember

John Dancy on Unsplash

Jonatan Pie on Unsplash


Joan Torruella on Unsplash

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