Jamaica is becoming a magnet for disillusioned black people to locate to, particularly Americans, who feel their country is far more dangerous and violent than JA.
Avoiding countries that marginalise, harm and kill them on race grounds, blacks from 30 different countries are relocating to Jamaica.
Mainly from the United States, Canada and Great Britain, many with absolutely no connections to Jamaica, the group has tagged themselves ‘Black Expats and Repats in Jamaica (BERJ)’.
The island’s crime rate is no deterrent, they say, as: “America is as violent, particularly against black people and other ethnic groups,” claimed T. Clarice Norton, who was born and raised in Mississippi.
She is not naïve to think there is no crime in JA, “but I think comparing a small island to other places is not a fair label.”
Norton, who relocated to Jamaica during the COVID-19 pandemic as an online English instructor, feels that Florida and New York are just as violent as Jamaica.
Her expat colleagues agree, with Aisha ‘MeeMee’ Whyte, a tour operator who has spent the last 13 years there, stating that she fell in love with Jamaica’s culture, which inspired her relocation.
For LaTanzia Jackson, who grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, she wanted to live in a place where there was no language barrier. “And where there were more people that looked like me. I also wanted the climate,” she said
The sole male in the administrative team is Kwame McPherson, who was born in the United Kingdom, and moved to Jamaica aged seven and has been in and out of Kingston since. His intention was always to make Jamaica his home, “and crime was never an issue. Jamaica is my home”.
Unfortunately, there has been a trend in recent decades of returning ex-pats being murdered shortly after resettling in Jamaica, so BERJ is helping make potential victims more aware.
BERJ, which was founded by Norton in September 2020 on Facebook, has developed into a formidable organisation incorporating a limited business, social enterprise features and bringing to the fore diaspora-related issues.
BERJ has around 2,000 members and receives an average of 30 new requests per week. They expect membership to increase exponentially in the next few years.
Two-thirds of the group’s membership, although having no ancestry there, want to remain permanently. The others with Jamaican connections through family and some who were born in Jamaica but have lived overseas, are ready to return home.
Initially, BERJ produced the ‘Dos and Don’ts of Resettling in Jamaica’ e-book, found at berjamaica.com. They’ve also developed a 2021-23 Strategic Plan; created a classified page for member businesses and connected with corporate Jamaica to build collaborations/partnerships.
Whether they want to leave the US, move to another country or just have the option to move abroad someday, many Americans are suddenly looking into how to get a second passport or citizenship. The reasons range from the Supreme Court’s recent decision on abortion rights, to safety concerns, to politics, to just wanting a cheaper place to live.