Wah Gwan?: 9 People of Jamaican Nationality That Surprised Me

October 26, 2011  |  
1 of 10

Okay, so a few weeks back I did a post on people that were of Nigerian background who just happened to shock and surprise me at one time or another. The response to that was big! A lot of people were surprised themselves, some people weren’t, others said I didn’t know my culture, yada, yada, yada. But a big response I got was from people asking for galleries with people of Jamaican background and more. So here we meet again, and I’ve compiled a list of folks that surprised me (probably because I’m NOT Jamaican) and that might surprise you too. Hope you enjoy! And if not, you suck. (kidding! It’s all love.)

Shout out to my Jamaican friend for giving me the title!

Colin Powell

Okay, so I kind of knew this one, only because my dad had his biography, My American Journey. Thought I’d share anyhow. The retired general and former Secretary of State under President Bush is actually the son of Jamaican folks–both of his parents; his father was born into a poor family, his mother of a bit more “elevated” status as he said in his book (he also has some Scottish blood). Powell was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx (hey, J. Lo!). The former Secretary of State wasn’t that good of a student (I see that C-average Colin…), which didn’t make his hard-working parents too happy. But he later earned himself a Bachelor’s in geology and a Master’s in business administration after fighting in the Vietnam War twice. Bow!

Naomi Campbell

The British supermodel and stunning 41-year-old’s mother was actually a showgirl born in Jamaica. If you’re looking for her father, you probably won’t be able to find him, though. Said to be of Chinese background, Campbell’s pops ran out on her when her mother was four months pregnant. The leggy model has mad love for her mothers homeland, and even own a home on the island in Oracabessa, Jamaica.

Corbin Bleu

One of the lone black folks in the High School Musical movies, the curly-haired, happy-go-lucky young man is the child of an Italian-American mother, and a Jamaican-American father. Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m assuming he hit up one of these West Indian parades and got his dutty-wine on, but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. Definitely didn’t see that one coming, how about you?

Grace Jones

If you’re a fan of the singer, model and androgynous figure, you probably already knew that Miss Jones was born and raised in Jamaica. The singer is known for songs like “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Slave to the Rhythm,” for playing Strangé in Boomerang, and for making the fade hot on women. She was born and raised in St. Catherine Parish before her mother picked up and took Jones and her brothers to Syracuse, N.Y. I don’t know why, but I’m not THAT surprised that she is Jamaican. I could just see her whipping that fade back and forth in the dancehalls back in the day (smile).

Heavy D

Oh, Dwight Errington Myers, Mr. Diddly, Diddly D, I didn’t know you were Jamaican! The lovable big man who is still light on his feet to this day, was born in Jamaica, and like Grace Jones, was transported to New York when his family picked up and left the island. While he has done his share of acting and is mostly known as a rapper, Heavy D recently got in touch with his roots and ventured into reggae music. Didn’t get the memo? Well, he now looks at himself as a reggae fusion artist. Interesting…

Sanya Richards

The track star, now Sanya Richards-Ross, was actually another individual born and raised in Jamaica for a short time. Kingston, Jamaica to be specific. Richards left Jamaica when she was 12 and was just recently declared a U.S. citizen in 2002. Since leaving Jamaica, the 400-meter fiend has won numerous World Championship accolades on the track all over the world. I definitely knew she was fast as hell, but I can’t say I knew she was Jamaican-born. But then again, I guess it all makes sense then…

Patrick Ewing

Another Jamaican-born brother, Patrick Ewing was born and raised (for a short time, once again) in Kingston, Jamaica where he was a big cricket and soccer player of all things. It wasn’t until he moved to Cambridge, Mass. where his mother had been working and where has siblings had come, that he learned how to dunk on folks. He literally knew very little about basketball before he came to the States, but once Ewing got the hang of it, he was dominating. The big ‘ol Jamaican fella is now in the Hall of Fame and is the current assistant coach for the Orlando Magic.

Sheryl Lee Ralph

You know Sheryl! One of the original Dreamgirls? Lauryn Hill’s mother in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit? MOESHA‘s step-mother? Well, the actress and singer lived a lot of her life going back and forth between Mandeville, Jamaica and Long Island, N.Y. thanks to her American father and Jamaican mother. As an adult, Ralph founded the Jamerican Film & Music Festival. Sistah-girl is even in the “Jamaican Hall of Fame!” Well, according to www.Jamaicans.com that is. And it does actually make sense that she would be of Jamaican background, because if you ever watched Moesha like that, she used to break out in patois at random moments. Good to know though!

Christopher “Kid” Reid

“Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”! This dancing fool (who I used to have a crush on) who just so happened to be a pretty good rapper and actor too, is the son of a Jamaican father and an Irish mother. Can’t say which side he got his dance skills from…kidding! Anywho, after the death of his mother, Reid was raised solely by his father, who wasn’t a fan of hip-hop music.  Parents really just don’t understand, huh? This guy with the eraser-shaped hair would go on to be a big star because of hip-hop, making famous doing the Charleston backwards and for making everyone think house parties are the beez-neez.

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