Melissa Dean is an Indo-Jamaican Masters student at Queens University in Canada. Her cultural background as well as her passion for advocacy and equity issues drives her to express her interests through spoken-word poetry. “I am Indo-Jamaican” is the first public performance of her poetry. Her great grandmother was born on a ship carrying indentured servants headed to Jamaica where her family would stay for four generations before emigrating to Canada.
Dean’s “I am Indo-Jamaican” has sparked conversation among its Jamaican and Indo-Caribbean viewers on various social media forums, reaching a total of over 100k viewers. The poem highlights the ancestral history of Indo-Caribbeans and brings to light some of the taboo topics of Indo-Caribbean existence, including social acceptance, race and the derogatory term “coolie”.
Dean delves into issues of social cohesion and acceptance in the poem’s first few lines, where she describes the feeling of being “not brown enough to be Indian” or “black enough to be Jamaican”.
During indentureship, Indian workers were brought to the Caribbean and dispersed among the islands to work on plantations. While many intended to return to India, this was made difficult when the time came due to political and economic reasons. Today, many Indo-Jamaicans tend not to be accepted by those in their former home country (India) due to perceived loss of Indian culture and As Jamaica (and most of the Caribbean) is primarily composed of Afro-Caribbeans, it is also often difficult for Indo-Caribbeans to be accepted as ‘truly’ Caribbean by those in Western countries, as many are unaware of their history.
Jamaica’s motto, “Out of Many, One People” promises equity, unity and diversity. Dean reinforces the importance of the motto by reaffirming her place as an Indo-Jamaican individual and highlighting the existence of this identity.
Support change: A little favour to ask-We believe true freedom is to be able to act without fear or favour and that identity is not a “brand” to be abused, politicized, or reduced for personal gain. As Global Indians, the need to work together is greater now than ever before. If we want to see real change, we need to create a better society for all, tackle injustice and plunge into the many aspects of what the human experience truly offers.The Global Indian Series has been built to be a platform of integrity, fairness and to remain fiercely independent of political influence. We are the first in the world to connect with every echelon of society with all human voices being treated equally. We are the first to have travelled physically to locations far and wide, often putting our own lives on the line to bring forward stories that deserve to be told. Whether it’s through our Podcast that delves into the human experience behind identity, our articles and features that cover key events we need to know, or live based events that tackle topical discussions, we have been there to support a better community and planet.Despite the high costs and time needed to maintain our work, we continue, because we know our work has helped more people understand what is happening within the communities across our planet, why it matters, and how, together, we can demand progress. We challenge head-on, the silent divisions that have crept into our collective consciousness and how to tackle key issues that often go neglected in mainstream media.How you can help:Please share our work: By collaborating with others who share our values, our combined voices make change, with many more becoming inspired to take meaningful action.Subscribe to the platform:Many from across our community have decided to subscribe to our platform. It helps us grow which in turns attracts like-minded supporters. If you have not already, we would appreciate you subscribing to our newsletters and following our social media accounts. It is free and supports our journey.
Leave a Reply