In Part II of his Q&A, Odell S talks about his experiences as a black American who is actively involved in the Caribbean social/party scene.
How did you become interested in the Caribbean community and Caribbean culture?
As a youth, I always enjoyed Reggae and loved seeing pictures of the different islands like Jamaica, Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands.
As I got older and went off to college, I started actually going to reggae bashment parties and got hooked. I already loved the music and once I experienced a true reggae bashment, I was always looking to hang out at different Caribbean events.
After graduating and now living in Montgomery, I wanted to go to a good reggae bashment and got online and came across a website Unitedtrends.com.
I went to a party they were throwing in Atlanta and once again, I had a link. I met the head promoter and his wife and they were very friendly and invited me to come to more events.
Back in 2003, they invited me to join in their Caution Band for the Atlanta Carnival. I did and had the most fun during an event. I made a number of friends that I still stay in contact with today. I have been going to every Atlanta Carnival since ‘03 and this past year, my friends and I went to DC Carnival. [This summer], I went to an event at a church in Decatur [GA] that was celebrating Jamaican Independence Week. And each year during Jamaica Independence Week, I try to attend an event that celebrates the Island’s triumph in becoming independent.
What have you learned as a result of your interactions? Any myths dispelled?
Well, I guess I will answer both questions at the same time. The first myth is all Jamaicans smoke marijuana.
I have friends that come from the islands of Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, St.Kittes,Virgin Islands, Dominica, Bahamas, Bermuda and I’m not even counting all my friends from Africa. That’s a whole new topic.
Most of them don’t even smoke and hardly any of them have dreads. I state this because media stereotypes would lead you to believe all island folks have dreads and smoke weed. So not true.
Remember the “Hey Mon” skit from the [FOX television show] In Living Color where everyone in a Jamaican family had numerous jobs? In retrospect, that is not a bad stereotype but it is still a stereotype. Most of my friends are just hard workers and most of them truly appreciate their opportunities and take advantage of what living in the US has to offer.
But the funny thing is that the “Hey Mon” skit still sticks in people’s heads. I have a good friend who is from Brooklyn NY. He is an Italian-American and every time we are out, he always tells people, “Remember the Living Color Skit, “‘Hey Mon’? That’s Odell” He says this because I’m always working at least two jobs but that’s just me. I have no Caribbean ties but my friend remembers that skit and since he’s from NY he has come in contact with a lot of Jamaicans.
One “truth” I have learned is that Caribbeans support each other. Whether it’s going to a Jamaican restaurant, a nightclub or retail store, they support their fellow Caribbeans and that is a lovely thing.
For instance,the same person from Unitedtrends.com that helped to introduce me to the Atlanta reggae party scene, whenever he throws a new event, we all go out and support him. Every second Friday of the month, he throws a party at this local nightspot. He can already count on at least 125 people showing up each month just because they are loyal friends.
I wish more African Americans would support each other especially in business.
Coming Next: Lola A. from the ATL Talks about Being African in America