by Brandon Peart-Wright
I was born in America on August 20th, 1996 in the Bronx, NY. Both of my parents, however, came from Jamaica. My father (Wright) came to this country in the early 80s and my mother in the mid 90s. My mother (Peart) comes from a rural part of Jamaica called Trelawny and my Dad from Manchester. My maternal grandmother immigrated to the United States in the early 90s. Before my mother joined my grandmothers in the US, she briefly resided in Canada.
My Mother met my father in the Bronx in 1994. The vast majority of my dad’s relatives immigrated to the UK instead of the US. When my dad came to the US, he worked for Greyhound initially, and moved to the MTA, where he still works today. He has also bought properties in the City, upstate NY and Georgia. My mother began her career as a primary school teacher but, after having a child, became a private nurse. She has some family in the US but the bulk of her relatives still live in Jamaica.
About a year ago I did an ancestry DNA test to find out where exactly my ancestors came from in Africa and how much European ancestry I have. The results after some time came back: though broadly I’m 100% “Afro-Jamaican” (South Central Afro-Jamaican specifically according to the test) that’s a very vague term in terms of actual ancestral origin and genetics. The results said I’m 33% Benin/Togo, 33% Cameroon/Congo/South Bantu peoples, 11% from England/Wales/Northern European, 8% from Ireland/Scotland, 8% from Mali, 5% Ivory Coast/Ghana and 2% Nigerian. In all honesty I wasn’t very surprised by the results, I knew the ties Jamaica and the United Kingdom had so I was under the assumption I had a lot of English and Celtic blood. As for the African ancestry I was rather shocked about one aspect of my results, I thought I would have more Ghanaian ancestry rather than just 5%.
Whether it was the US, the UK or Canada, all of my relatives simply wanted a better life. Jamaica is beautiful, lush and filled with natural wonders, however, in terms of economic opportunities, there are not many (until recently with China’s One Belt-One Road initiative helping Jamaica rebuild its economy). So, though their lives and friends were all encased in that island nation, many felt propelled to seek out a new life elsewhere.
As for my parents, they appreciate the opportunities the US provided them. I often wonder if my dad would have preferred living in the UK rather than the US, but he always replies that he was not interested in moving to the UK. As for my mom, she’s more in-between: she enjoys some aspects of American life but also misses Jamaica and claims that the people in Canada were more friendly. Nevertheless, America has treated my family well and helped us to achieve our dreams and goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandon Peart-Wright has been interning at the Common Good since June of 2019. There he helps to update the organization’s website, organizes paperwork, helps with events, and runs errands for offices supplies when needed.
Brandon had previously attended Nassau Community College and now currently attends Binghamton University where he studies Political Science. Along with his studies he also interns for the federal program TRIO (SSS) as both a TRIO writing tutor and a TRIO mentor. He also actively participates in Binghamton’s model UN club.
In his free time he likes to ski, longboard, listen to music and keep up with international politics.