nailah and sensheea

Ending The Feud Between Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica

nailah and shenseeaFrom the outside looking in, many persons deem island folk to be one big, happy family, all sharing cultural and behavioral similarities and all rooting for each other, and when one Caribbean island accomplishes something, the others claim it as their own cause for celebration. When Janelle ‘Penny’ Commissiong of Trinidad and Tobago became the first black woman in history to win the Miss Universe title, the entire Caribbean was overcome with excitement. The same occurred when Olympian Usain Bolt made an unforgettable impression on the track.

However, the people residing in the Caribbean know that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies among us, and, often, we create the drama ourselves. 

There seems to be a strong sense of competitiveness, to put it lightly, among the various islands surrounding the Caribbean sea, and some of this competitiveness easily crosses over to flat-out rivalry,  more so between two Caribbean islands in particular: Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

How this rivalry began, I do not know. What I do know is that, apparently, it has been a longstanding one, the flames of which are stoked by simple things such as a music video, as I recently found out.

The Video That Recently Reignited the Rivalry

A collaborative single between Nailah Blackman and Shenseea, two hot new artists from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica respectively, was recently released. Titled “Baddish,” the playful single instantly became a hit with Caribbean people, but it was the video that awakened the sleeping rivalry between the two islands.

Both Nailah Blackman and Shenseea are stunning young women; however, one video viewer took it upon himself via YouTube to start making comparisons about their physical appearance. This prompted a dispute between the viewers from Trinidad and Tobago and the viewers from Jamaica about which island, in their opinion, had “prettier women,” a dispute which turned into a very nasty war of words.

That wasn’t the only time that nationals of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago ended up in a verbal showdown about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. On popular digital platforms frequented by island nationals, users from other islands are forced to look on as Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica engage in “verbal sparring.” In fact, this occurs so often that it has been given a name: “Clash of the Giants.”

I have heard that this rivalry stems from the fact that, somewhere along the way, Jamaicans began to feel as though Trinbagonians looked down on them, or that we considered ourselves to be “better than them” because of our status as the wealthiest island in the Caribbean, and our large percentage of multiracial people. So, this is the part where I’ll attempt to put that notion to death once and for all. Jamaican people: WE THE PEOPLE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO BEAR NO ILL WILL TOWARD YOU. But don’t take my word for it; view the evidence yourselves. We embrace your music and your musicians; in fact, many Jamaican artists consider Trinidad and Tobago to be their second home, and it has been this way for decades. We do not look down on Jamaica, or any other island, for that matter, because of our wealth. In fact, when other Caribbean islands fall into financial difficulty, we are often readily available to offer our assistance.

There is a general consensus among many Caribbean islands that people from Trinidad and Tobago are “stuck up.” That is another myth that I will attempt to dispel, but that will be taken care of in a later article.

The Caribbean is only a tiny string of jewels in a world full of much larger, more developed nations, and the only chance we stand fighting among ourselves is the chance of drowning.

By: Danielle Dixon

Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani

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