Updated: Nov 17, 2020
This is an expression of love; love of family and heritage, of country, values, and our collective humanity. As Bob Marley says in One Love; “Let’s get together and feel all right”.
‘Me ah whon “Chiney Jamaican”; mi born inna Hong Kong ang grow-up roun “Stand Pipe Lane” inna Jamaica.’ I had the good fortune to be educated by thoughtful parents and in Catholic educational institutions in Jamaica and USA. But, I have chosen to be Canadian, in order to live a life interleaved with family, both immediate and extended, in a country more aligned with my values and a wide multi-cultural society.
My five older siblings were all born in Jamaica. My family returned to China to care for my then gravely ill grandfather. However my grandfather died before they made it back to Hong Kong/China. I was born on that trip.
The family soon returned to Jamaica to re-establish itself at 143 Old Hope Road, St. Andrews, Jamaica. A synopsis of my parents’ professional life has been published(1). Growing up in Jamaica was joyful and educational. Stand Pipe and Confidence View Lanes, Liguanea, and Mona in Jamaica was filled with rich social and economic diversity, which molded me.
This unique, but very common perspective, as one of the minejority, shaped my love for life. One is a part of the minejority, when one realizes that while one might be a minority in a particular setting, they are also part of a majority in another domain or setting. My very unstructured early life was filled with play (while Mona Grocery was built), especially on the lanes, gullies and wideopen areas. This shaped an appreciation for life among diverse peoples, especially those who had very little materially.
While my thoughtful parents fostered an appreciation for this diversity both in their actions and the service they provided to the wide community, they fortunately saw the importance of a good education and ensured we were all provided with such.
In my own case, I attended Alvernia and Campion Preparatory, St. George’s College High School in Jamaica and then Marquette University in Wisconsin, USA. This education enriched my appreciation for diversity of cultures and a desire to live in a society supportive of diversity and progressive social policy. However the then “.... polarized Jamaican society …. reflected in the growth of political violence…. anti-Chinese riots in 1965, when Chinese-owned businesses were looted and destroyed by angry mobs…”(2) led to my questioning this possibility in Jamaica. Upon completion of my graduate work, I chose to migrate to Toronto where both my sister and sister-inlaw were already residing and where we hoped to reunite the extended family.
After more than forty years now in Canada, my wife (Constance Beverly) and I have re-united with much of our immediate and extended family in Canada, while having satisfying careers. This ‘whon Canadian Chiney Jamaican’ is thankful for his good fortune in having such a loving family (children - Tracey, Frances and David), as part of the collective diaspora. It is with deep emotion and love for all those persons, especially those who are no longer walking among us, in this diverse multi-cultural society that I pray, I am able to reflect the minejority adequately.
1. A synopsis of my parent’s professional life in Jamaica was published in “The Shopkeepers – Commemorating 150 years of the Chinese in Jamaica” by Ray Chen (ISBN 976-610-638; pages 215-216).
2. “The Evolution of Political Violence in Jamaica 1940-1980” by K. F. Williams (Ph. D. thesis, Columbia University 2011, page 146).