Walking while black, in Jamaica vs. the US

Australian icecream vans all use Greensleeves.

…which has its own interestingly charged history:


I’m reminded of this bit from a piece written a few months ago:


Holy fucksocks.

Pop goes the Weasel is the ice cream truck standard, 'round my way.

I know the tune you speak of, but I’ve never known it by those racist lyrics; as a kid, the part I’m familiar with was “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”

This country is so damn weird.


I am a white foreigner who currently lives in a Caribbean country. I am often called out and heckled while walking around. Sometimes this is quite hostile. I have to say though that this is a pretty different experience from what he wrote about. For one thing, white privilege is pervasive here and protects you. So that even if people on the street are hostile it rarely means actual danger. Even the police are somewhat scared of foreigners. White privalege is shown it is raw form. This is not normal. This is deeply unjust.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people are ‘punching up’. They can be hostile but it comes from a place of frustration from decades of deep inequalities and injustice. They are frustrated that foreigners, especially white foreigners, can come around and enjoy their country, get treated with dignity and even special treatment while they are often seen as a problem in their own neighbourhoods. Yes, heckling is annoying to no end and it often makes me angry, but what happens to white foreigners in predominantly black countries is not the same thing as he is describing in this article.



I lived in the USVI for few years; it was an eye opening experience.


I can dig it, but what about walking while gay in Jamaica? They’ll rip you to pieces. Tyranny of the majority, and indifference or outright hostility toward the minority is hell on earth.

Are you trying to make a point? Dignity is not a zero sum game. Affording it to one person doesn’t mean that there’s somehow less to give to another person.


Haiti. Yes, you learn a lot quickly.


Ooh, chile; that’s way more ex-pat than I was willing to go.

Props; it takes a certain caliber of person to break out of one’s comfort zone go live in a completely different environment…


It’s quite rewarding, though.


I feel the same, although I did eventually decide to come back stateside.


Yeah, I don’t know what the USVI are like but here it is also quite tiring and you occasionally just have to leave.

I mean… I do this 3, 4 days a week.


Thank you. I had the same experience as a white man in some African countries. And indeed it is though-provoking.

Which, as I have read the answers to your post, does not mean that dignity is a zero-sum game or whatever. It just means that living that experience while I am normally used to not being noticed was thought provoking. I makes one think.

There is also the pedestrian (no pun intended) and ubiquitous unwanted attention of walking while female:


When a co-worker and I would walk to his place for lunch sometimes in the 1990s we’d have to take the long way 'round to avoid a certain couple of streets where my pale skin was not welcome. But honestly even though Philadelphia was a very racist and medium violent city at that time, there were very few places a white man wasn’t at least as safe as anyone else.

All that being said, if you went into some Jamaican or Dominican squatter neighborhood and survived, the Philly police would likely just laugh at your injuries and losses. Maybe give you a couple more.

Can you substantiate these particular claims of white victimhood with anything beyond mere hearsay?

Not, that is, with a news report or two of a white person getting mugged or something back then (anecdotes not equaling data and so on).


The ice cream van that comes around over here always plays the Italian national anthem. And it always sets off some of the dogs in the neighbourhood to howl along with it.
By now I’m so used to it that when I hear the anthem played on occasions like a sports broadcast it feels odd not to hear howling dogs, and I crave ice cream for a minute or so.


I lived and worked in Hong Kong for a year. Would have stayed longer but my contract wasn’t renewed. It was awesome. I loved living there. The ‘white person’ jokes not malicious and I never felt in danger.

Cantonese was fucking hard to learn and I only got a few words by the end. Mostly how to tell the taxi driver how to get me home.


That sounds awesome.

Some folks don’t recognize punching up when they see it; I heard all kinds of ‘Yankee*’ jokes about myself while in the Virgin Islands, and never took it took to heart.

(*Anyone from the mainland is a Yank to native born islanders; even Southerners from Alabama and Georgia.)