October is Black History Month – an opportunity to learn about the heritage and history of our African and Caribbean communities in the UK. Jordan, our client and volunteer shares his experience of growing up in the UK and Jamaica.
My name is Jordan. I’m 29 years old. I am the firstborn from my mother- she had me when she was 25.
I was born in Dulwich hospital in 1987. Being brought up a black minority was difficult amid the other diversities coming out. London wasn’t that multi-cultural back then because of the racial prejudice and the violence that was erupting in London.
Living among my people it taught me a lot about myself and how I should not lower my standards or how I shouldn’t compare myself to anybody because I am my own personal self, and how I shouldn’t be belittled or intimidated because of my colour and my race.
Sunshine all year round
In November 1998, I moved to Jamaica with my grandparents because they couldn’t take the English weather anymore. So they decided to pack up and move on out to where there is no winter but pure sunshine all year round
I went to school there at the age of 11 but usually they take students there from the age of 12 but because my uncle knew the woman who was the headmistress of the school that’s how I got in.
Being surrounded by such a large amount of Jamaican children speaking patois was like they were speaking another foreign language. I could not understand what they were saying so I just stuck to my English vocabulary which was good enough for me.
The school system is different over there because they have a thing which is called a double-shift system meaning; some come in the morning and the others come in the afternoon and school finishes at 5:30pm.
‘Out of Many One People’
Also when I was in school they had a thing called dictation where the teacher would read and you would be writing, and that used to annoy me to the point of distraction but anyway I took it as a man.
Being at home after a long day of school was a total relief. You didn’t have to hear the voices of the teachers or the voices of the children being played in your head. You could just relax and enjoy the evening by eating mangoes, bananas, coconut and other such delights. Not forgetting sugarcane which is my favourite and also not forgetting the ackee and salt fish with dumplings and green bananas or callaloo with salt fish which is my all-time favourite. I would eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Being in Jamaica opened up my spiritual eyes to see how they lived and how they come together as one and as a holistic nation because the Jamaican motto is ‘Out Of Many One People’. The one thing that always stuck with me was my English culture which I could never give up.
‘Working in St Mungo’s has been a joy’
Both of these experiences impacted my life and work at St Mungo’s dramatically because of how I have carried myself and the black man I have become.
Working in St Mungo’s has been a joy and a blessing because I get to meet so many people and to enjoy their company and to live among such a diverse generation. My life is very busy. I fulfil numerous roles, which are communications, fundraising, campaigns, events plus Outside In – a client involvement group which I am honoured to be part of.
Currently I’m in supported living accommodation on Great Guildford Street where I have been since January 2015. It has its ups and downs but I am a survivor and I always pull through. I hope these experiences will make you understand what it was like for a young black boy from London, living in Jamaica.