Monday, April 22, 2024

A Tri-Racial Jamaican’s Story


© 2024 by Michael Auld

As a responsible artist and author, when it comes to "universal truths", I feel compelled to set some records straight. So, I do the necessary research and then portray these interpretations in writing and visual art forms.


The ancient gigantic Mexican stone head of the people who built pyramids invented local latex rubber and the rubber ball game that spread around the world after 1519 AD. All original bouncing rubber ball games and the concept of team sports came from the Olmec. 

What racial category would most Americans place this Olmec ruler in? 

Some believe that he was an Afro-Asiatic man, the descendant of Egyptian pyramid-builders, Africans who came to the Americas and mixed with Amerindians, long before European arrival.  While others say that he was a pure Amerindian.

Top: Yucatan Maya ballcourt ruins with a stadium.

Bottom: A manuscript illustration of the "I" shaped North to South layout of a ballcourt with representative team players and icons associated with the East and West "goals" to the side and associated deities. (b) is a padded ballplayer; (c) is the carved stone hoop from the east or west side of the walled court, through which the ball can go for points.

American Racism Began with the Arriving Spanish

A Caribbean map between the mainland continents of what the arriving Spanish after 1492, termed the Terrestrial Paradice, believed to be the center of the Christian's Biblical Eden on Earth. This concept was based on Columbus' impressions of the Taíno people's skimpy tropical attire in a lush, pristine setting, and their seemingly tanned youthful physiques.  Accustomed to People of Color, did they identify the Indigenous Taíno and Kalinago people as their own Adam and Eve? 


My Life as a Brown Man

For the first 19 years of my life, I was the son of a middle-class Brown Man & Woman enjoying a relatively non-racial existence on the third largest island in the Terrestrial Paradice.  This idyllic existence ended in September of 1962 when I arrived at Howard University's campus in a city of racially discriminating universities and an equally race-conscious Nation's Capital. Washington, DC which was divided into Black, White, Chinese, rich, and poor neighborhoods. American racism was still in full force, and I, as a person of color, could not even go downtown to try on clothes in the racist department stores. On my home island of Jamaica, our neighborhoods were divided by class. 

I came to Washington, DC just a few days after I had arrived in the United States at New York's Idlewild Airport (now Kennedy International Airport), accompanied by my mother, a child of a Scottish Campbell father and a half-English, half-Maroon mother. In Jamaica, the Maroons were escaped enslaved Africans and mulattoes who fled to the mountains and joined the welcoming Cimarrones, Indigenous 
Taíno Amerindians, who had earlier removed themselves from the violent demands of Spanish ranchers, disappointed in the island's lack of worthwhile gold. The Cimarrones showed the Africans how to survive in a strange land. The Maroons became a formidable fighting force on the island, attacking sugar plantations winning two major wars against the British, and signing peace treaties before the American Revolution to the north.  Today, because of these reservation treaties, there are mixed maroon settlements in Jamaica, dominated by African genes. These mixed Cimarrones and Maroons were my maternal grandmother's mother's ancestors.

My dad was the son of an accountant and was also of mixed tri-racial heritage from a middle-class background. His Auld name came from the Old Ones, 12th-century English traders who had moved to Scotland from England, and probably came under the protection of the Campbell clan. He remained home to allow my mom a first visitor's trip to America with me. Dada, an enterprising real estate speculator, and entrepreneur, bought, designed, and built houses, and acquired over 10 properties during his lifetime as a Government Agricultural Marketing clerk. In Jamaica's society, he was a "Brown Man". 

The term "Brown Man" is for the various shades of the colors brown, tan, and lighter skin tones up to near pink-grey ("white"), who were originally the offspring of mostly European men and African women, who became middle-class clerks and entrepreneurs. The term could also apply to the arriving, and mixed Sephardic Jews escaping Catholic conversion in Spain, and Middle Eastern Christian Lebanese, escaping discrimination in Lebanon, et al.  After the enslaved Africans and mulatto emancipation, Chinese and Asiatic Indians were brought into the island as replaced slave labor indentures, while the sprinkling of Welsh, Portuguese and French pirates made their home base of Jamaica's Port Royal, the notoriously richest and "wickedest city in the Americas".

Racial Dilemma

My dilemma while seated in the large Howard University Gym as an entering freshman foreign student at the university's intake session, was a baffling line on the required registration form. 

As I sat down next to a light brown-skinned American coed, I was given a student registration form to fill out.  The form required my first name, middle initial, and last name.  Not accustomed to seeing anything other than a Colonial Jamaican form requesting this name format, I placed "Albert M. Auld" on the line. In Jamaica, we were not necessarily called by our first name, So, in America, I was forever addressed as "Albert", my grandfather's name. The name Auld has mostly been mispronounced by both Jamaicans and Americans. In Jamaica, it was mispronounced as "Hall". Although in the USA we sing Auld Lang Syne every New Year's Eve, most people immediately forget how to pronounce A-U-L-D.  "Mr. Aah-l-u-d?" is often the mispronunciation in most intake settings.

Having filled out all the required identifying information, on the form, including age, parents' name, country of origin, birth date, and, my high school diploma, or "Senior Cambridge Certificate" in my Colonial case (the Senior Cambridge Certificate, equal to a US diploma, was a high school required exam originating and marked in Britain, and similar to a diploma). 

Then, I came to an unfamiliar line. "Race", it read. 

"What the hell is that?" I thought. "Race?" momentarily baffled my 19-year-old Jamaican brain. "Never seen that term on any form that I had to fill out back home," I thought.  

So, I peeked over at the aforementioned young lady's form to see what she had written, After all, she looked like a cousin. Many Americans, foreign students, professors, and office workers on campus looked a lot like some of my ethnically mixed relatives. 

She had written "Negro" on the "Race" line. I later learned that the African Americans had fought and won the fight to place a capital "N" for the racist small "n" in "negro", which spiteful whites would spell with a diminutive lowercase "n". 

"Damn", I thought. "Maybe I'm one of those." So, to move on, I wrote "Negro" in my form, not then knowing its meaning, nor its full ramification in a racist society. This was my first encounter with official American racism, changes from Negro were to come later with the designation of "Colored", and the once derogatory "Black", the later accepted hyphenated "Afro-American", and full-blown "African American". When I arrived in America, calling someone black was a fighting epithet. It later became the "I'm Black, and I'm proud" cry of the Black Power Movement. 

Then there is a "Person of Color", (which can now diplomatically include all non-white individuals).  

Jamaican Racism

In my multiracial 1960s island, "race" was rarely discussed. Yes, we had derogatory ethnic terms which sometimes, even today,  easily rolled off an angry Jamaican tongue. That name would be, "Old Neaga", "Neaga-man",  for a decidedly Afrocoid-looking person of the lower class, "Chineyman" or "Mr. Chin" for a Chinese-Jamaican, "Coolie or Coolie-Babu" for a Jamaican East Asian Indian, and "White Man" for people who looked even slightly European, or in America, a person "With a Touch of the Tar", where they may be suspected to be Black.  

A rich brown-skinned Jamaican could also be called "white". This designation is associated with money, as I found out as a teen when a black worker pointed to a large home on a huge property in the Red Hills neighborhood, and said, "Mr. Frazer up deh, is a white man." 

Mr. Frazer would never be called white in America.

Then, there was "Mulatta" for a mixed race person called a "Brown Man", then, "Redibo" or "Dundus" was for an albino. There was no "Negro" in our vocabulary. Although in Jamaican patois, the slavery holdover term, "pickney", is a young person or animal, commonly still used without prejudicial intention. So, Jamaicans do have a proverb that states: "Every johncro, 'tink him pickney, white." Meaning, "Every turkey vulture thinks that his chick is white". Black turkey vultures have white feathered chicks who eventually turn black. So, to break it down, "a stuck-up person may think that their child is better than others". Or, "everyone thinks that they are better than others".

My Tri-Racial Identity: Avoiding America's Racist "One Drop Rule"

One Drop Rule: A 20th Century United States white supremacy legal rule asserting that any person with even one drop of Sub-Saharan African "blood" is considered Black.

Fortunately, since the invention of DNA, we no longer have to be a racist parrot. Yet the unscientific "blood" designation continues to be an accepted belief that prevails among Americans. Similarly, the old "Blood Quantum" is a European American-enforced practice adopted by many sovereign Native Americans. So, today we have designated "Fullblood" and smaller percentages of such, right up to the newly introduced "Black Indian" designation. I have yet to see an acknowledged "White Indian". Using the Blood Quantum rule, there is even a movement to oust "Pretendians", a race-based phenomenon by supposed pure "Fullblood"' advocate from a member of one of America's more recently arrived Amerindians to our continent. For some Americans, the tendency is to paint anyone suspected of African "blood", with a Black brush.

Since having been called a "Brown Man" by Jamaicans at home, I am comfortable with this designation. I do not kowtow to the chiefly American brainwashing, Eurocentric "One drop Rule", doggedly accepted by many people of color. My DNA tests have proven me right. So, sometimes, I am proud of all of my ancestors, but, at times, disappointed by the history of some. Genetically, I am mostly Old English-Scotish, then West African, then Yamaye Taíno. My pride emanates from all these ethnicities. Jokingly though, I fear that when I finally meet my ancestors, none of them will slap me in the face for disowning them. 

For example. I was raised in Jamaica knowing of my Scottish roots via my Campbell mother.  Knowledge of my Old English roots came later in a visit to London, England in 1994, when my Native American wife introduced me to a Scottish shop owner, Ian Auld, an African Art shopowner who had taught ceramics in Nigeria. He then told me of our Old English Auld family in Perth, Scotland. Ian has remained a name in my family since it is my father's and my son's first names, including one of my nephew's.

"He even has your body type and legs, Mike!" my wife exclaimed, after introducing me to Ian Auld in London. 

She was on a Fulbright Teacher Exchange to London for that school year and had come across his shop with the Auld name. 

Additionally, in 1950s to 1960s preindependence Jamaica, some of my Calabar High School classroom teachers were British, as was the headmaster, who once caned me. My education was a British Colonial one, since Jamaica gained its independence in 1962, the year that I arrived on the Howard University campus, wanting to become a dentist. It was said that within the British Empire, one could switch around high school students in any of their subjugated colonies, and we wouldn't skip an educational beat. We all learned the same British curriculum.  But very little about my Jamaican homeland. Incidentally, my all-boys high school, Calabar, was created by British Baptists who (spitefully?) named the school after a notorious Nigerian slave port that supplied the island with one source of its African slaves. 

My West African Initiation 

Notice Howard University's multiethnic composition on the first seal with two Native Americans, a white man, an African, and a Chinese. In 1867, this seal was too liberal for Southern Congressmen who held the purse strings, forcing the university to abandon its inclusive motto with the inclusion of the word "service". Today, the symbol is a Native American bison.

In 1962, Howard University had the largest percentage of foreign students than any other American university, most of whom were racist in their student enrolment policies. Few African Americans had been allowed entry to the predominantly Euro-Amrican institutions. So, African Americans started their own universities. Howard, which began as a learning institution by General Otis Howard after the Civil War, was a repentant "Indian Fighter". The trail-blazing institution was later euphemistically called the "Black Harvard".

When I arrived on Howard University's campus in the Fall of 1962, American students asked, "So, you are from Jamaica?'

"Yes," I said.

"Tell us about Jamaica," they asked.

I dumbfoundedly stuttered. Not learning about my hemisphere, I could not tell them about the history of my homeland. I felt ashamed. So, my quest was to teach myself about my predominantly African-populated homeland. In the infancy of the Black Pride Movement on Howard's campus, where it had its foundation, I used an illustration class to begin my journey into Africa with our Ghanaian/Jamaican Anansi the Spiderman. My Native American girlfriend, later to be my wife, brought me the 1899 book from the Founders Library's African diaspora's book collection, titled, "Annancy Stories" by Pamela Colman Smith, a young American woman brought to Jamaica as a child by her father, an engineer, to build one of the first cross-island railroads in the Americas. Jamaica has a strong  Ghanaian Anansi storytelling tradition, whose moral-based stories are deep in the island's psyche.

My class assignment children's book illustration from "Anansi and the Yam Hills", recorded by Pamela Colman Smith. My version of Anansi the Spider-man's facial features were based on research on West African cartoon-like Benin bronze sculptures. Here Anansi waits for Mrs. Guineafowl to count the five yam hills, that would make her disappear from a Taíno agricultural innovation, agricultural mound-building, called a conuco. For the story, click on

In the late 1960s, I created an Akan (Ghanaian ethnic group) folkloric comic strip I called "Anansesem", meaning, AnansiStories in Twi. The strip was published weekly for several years in Jamaica's Gleaner Company's Star newspaper tabloid. This panel was going to be the last story for the Gleaner, which dropped the strip. The above panel was intended to introduce the reader to Jamaica's Second Maroon War. (Here's a link to my website's Anansesem panel:

A Search for My Yamaye Taíno History

Yamaye is the name Indigenous Jamaican Taínos called themselves. The island was known as Yamayeka, the word from which the Spanish coined "Hamaica", Anglicized as Jamaica.

 In my research of the Taíno, I have compiled over 60 gifts that the Taíno Civilization gave to the world after 1492. One of them first encountered in the Americas was the bouncing rubber ball game called batu, a team game played on a clay court with the hips. In the 1500s, the Spanish took a team to the court of the King of Spain, where a Dutch diplomat described the magical witchcraft bouncing rubber ball game. 

Encouraged by my wife's deepening involvement in her Native American heritage, I turned inward to my own Indigenous cultural roots, Jamaica's Yamaye Taíno. As a sculptor and printmaker, this journey began with deep research into my region's Indigenous Caribbean history. Research, then creative artistic depictions became my obsession. So, I first joined the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), a New York Puerto Rican-founded organization. Much later, with the resurgence of Indigenous cultural movements in the Caribbean, I joined the newly formed Yucayeke Yamaye Guani (Hummingbird tribe) a Yamaye Taíno people's community on Yamayeka or Jamaica. 

Although the late-arriving Spanish of 1492 under Cristoforo Colombo (a.k.a. Christopher Columbus), believed my homeland to be the Earthly location of their Biblical Eden, the ancient Taíno civilization, 1,400 years old by then, was a pristine Paradice. Our Yamayeka island's indigenous people had come up island-by-island from the mighty Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela, settling in Botiken, Ayti Bohio/Kiskeya, Cubanakan, the Lucayos, and finally in Bimini on Turtle Island's  (i.e North America's) western peninsular of  Florida. 

Sixteenth-century Spanish illustrations of Taíno batu ball players on a batey ballcourt, taken to the Royal court in Spain. Plus, a carved stone belt that was worn as protective gear by the players to prevent damage from the heavy, solid, bone-breaking rubber ball. 

The Taíno rubber ball game, invented by the Olmec of Mexico, is the source of all bouncing ballgames from soccer or football to volleyball, to basketball, to tennis, to jacks.

Above: Various Taíno images associated with the guava berry a Super Fruit associated with the "Sewwtness of Life", and icons associated with Guayaba Maketaure, the God of the Afterlife.

My Taíno Interpretations

"Guabancex the Hurakam", the Angry Taíno Woman Wind Goddess is one of the author's wall sculptures depicting the Taíno's hurricane's "S"-shaped image. Not unlike a later satellite image of a hurricane.

"Taíno Creation Story" is a wall sculpture with various images associated with the Taíno belief system. (See the YouTube story at:

Land Acknowledgements to the Indigenous peoples are becoming more prevalent in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. This is my illustrated Coat of Arms inspired proposal of a Yamaye Taíno Land Acknowledgement monument in the historic Jamaican Hope Botanical Gardens honoring Jamaica's Indigenous ancestors.