Jamaica’s sporting star Usain Bolt has admitted that he has faced “strong” levels of classism and racism from Jamaica’s upper class throughout his rise as a global athletics icon.
The multiple world- and Olympic-record holder recalled how he was left ‘shocked’ by the reactions of neighbors when he moved into an upscale St. Andrew apartment complex.
“Especially when I started out. It was more shocking than anything else. That was how I ended up buying my house,” Bolt told journalist Ian Boyne during the personality program, Profile on Television Jamaica, Sunday.
“I was living in a complex and I had issues with a few of the lighter-skinned people. I used to live near a lawyer and when I moved in, he said to me ‘be careful, they don’t like to see young people strive.’ ”
“When it started happening to me, I had to rush and build my house. A lot of them, because dem go school and work years and years fi reach, and me jus come up and because of sports mi get everything, dem nuh happy.”
The 29-year-old said the “strong badmind” displayed by some members of Jamaica’s upper class was contrasted by the positive reactions of ordinary Jamaicans.
“The ghetto yutes dem and everybody else love me and happy fi si me,” noted Bolt who earned more than $2 billion (Jamaican dollars) in 2015.
Bolt’s admissions come several months after a rant from entertainer Jodi ‘Jinx’ Henriques, who criticized him as a neighbor in upper St. Andrew, renewing a national discussion on the impact of class and color.