Yes, I became an American, and I’m proud to be an American in spite of all the things I would change in my adopted country. But make no mistake, I am also proud of my Jamaican heritage. Very proud.
When I was born nearly 81 years ago, Jamaica had a population of a million – or less. Yet Jamaicans were already making their mark on the global stage.The population has grown to well over two million, and even more Jamaicans are making remarkable contributions to the world today.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of Usain Bolt’s prodigious feats, or of the many other track-and-field stars who come from Jamaica. Our tiny island is a legendary giant killer in sports. We even made a heroic – and historic – effort in the Olympic bobsled event, remember?
And who in this world doesn’t know about Bob Marley and Jamaican reggae?
But Jamaicans have been amazingly successful in other fields, too. From entertainment to finance, from medicine to politics… General Colin Powell, whose parents are from Jamaica, springs to mind.
I often receive emails about Jamaicans who are world class stars in their chosen professions. Yesterday, I got an email from a friend, describing the achievements of Dr. Patrice Smith, a Jamaican who lives in Canada.
Dr. Smith (photo above) has made a discovery that could help repair nerve damage. Here’s how the tribute to her began:
Who would have thought that a little girl from Darliston in Westmoreland would turn out to be a First World scientist who may have discovered a new way to repair damaged nerves?
According to the email, “Dr Smith and her colleagues at Harvard have discovered a way to repair damaged nerves by allowing the adult brain to respond to repair signals that are induced after injury.”
Dr. Smith’s discovery will hopefully help people who suffer from brain and spinal-cord injuries by helping to repair not only injuries from an accident, but also damage from the natural aging process.
Apparently, as we get older, we lose the ability to repair damage to the brain and spinal cord, because our nervous system is actively preventing the immune system from sending out repair messages.
I get this kind of email quite often. Jamaicans excel in so many areas – not just sports, not just in medicine, not just in science and art, but in everything we set our minds to.
Of course not all Jamaicans wear white hats. Some are gangsters and dope peddlers. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the good the island produces far outweighs the bad.