Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | What's a real Jamaican?

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2017 | 2:00 AM

Sunday night's Miss Universe Pageant was just so-so for me. The show was riddled with technical difficulties, the Q&A segment was a total letdown, and there was no lickle excitement like last year when Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner. If I'm going to be honest, since Miss Jamaica didn't make the first cut, I wasn't as invested.

I got distracted mid-show and remembered back when Kaci Fennell was in the competition. What I vividly remember from that year was the boo. It was the boo heard around the universe.

Understand that Miami is Kingston 21, and proudly dressed in their black, green and gold, pot covers in hand to boot, Jamaicans had come out to show support for their island queen in their own full Jamaican regalia. As soon as Miss Jamaica, Kaci Fennell, had been announced as fourth runner-up in the competition, the crowd erupted with a cry of disapproval. To hear that the judging committee had thought Kaci only fifth best in the world, forget foreign and pretty clothes, we morphed into true and true Jamaicans.

The remaining four contestants on the stage were obviously shaken up. A deathly fear washed their faces in anticipation of a missile or a stampede. I saw Miss Netherlands grab Miss USA's hand and I could swear I saw her mouth, "Save me." I laughed so hard.

I also recall that Jamaicans were glued to the coverage. I remember seeing videos of Half-Way Tree at 10 p.m. on that Sunday night and Jamaicans were out in support of a Kaci in the thousands. They were all crowded around the big screen in front of the bus park and transport centre, and they broke out in cheers at every glimpse of our island beauty's pixie cut.

 

Stand in solidarity

 

They nearly wept at her announcement in the top 15, and top 10 and top five. They could have been anywhere, but they chose to stand in solidarity with their own. And that was a beautiful thing to see.

In that same spot, where we watched and cheered Kaci along, be it Half-Way Tree, or our couches or at a rum bar, many of us watched and cheered our Olympians, our Reggae Boyz, Tessanne.

It's in moments like that, when we are one Jamaica. When we have the singular unity of identifying as Jamaican, and wanting our country to do well. We are equal and connected.

As the US struggles with this period in its history of divisiveness and hate, I am reminded of what Dr Martin Luther King wrote about Jamaica on the 4th of July 1965.

"The other day Mrs King and I spent about 10 days down in Jamaica. I'd gone down to deliver the commencement address at the University of the West Indies. I always love to go that great island, which I consider the most beautiful island in all the world. The government prevailed upon us to be their guests and spend some time and try to get a little rest while there on the speaking tour.

"And so for those days we travelled all over Jamaica. And over and over again I was impressed by one thing. Here you have people from many national backgrounds: Chinese, Indians, so-called Negroes, and you can just go down the line, Europeans, European and people from many, many nations. Do you know they all live there and they have a motto in Jamaica, "Out of many people, one people." And they say, "Here in Jamaica, we are not Chinese. (Make it plain), we are not Japanese, we are not Indians, we are not Negroes, we are not Englishmen, we are not Canadians. But we are all one big family of Jamaicans."

"One day, here in America, I hope that we will see this and we will become one big family of Americans. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Jewish or Gentile Americans, not Irish or Italian Americans, not Mexican Americans, not Puerto Rican Americans, but just Americans. One big family of Americans."

One love, my Jamaica family. Remember the example you are. The example you have always been. And live up to it.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.