Humans of MAST: Zara Campbell

Fourteen year-old, Zara Campbell, is of Jamaican descent. Here is his story:


Michelle Garcia: Where is your family from?

Zara Campbell: Well, my dad was born in Jamaica. My mom was born here in Florida, but she grew up in Massachusetts. She has actually done a considerable amount of work with the Peace Corps helping out struggling areas where there are gangs and other acts of violence in places like Honduras and California.


Garcia: What traditions do you follow?

Campbell: We consider ourselves to be Rastafarian, which is a culture from Jamaica. We identify as religious people who look towards the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and we follow the Bible. We believe that the emperor of Ethiopia [during the early 1900s] is part of King David’s line. King David had a son, King Solomon who married Queen of Sheb. We believe that this matrimony connected Israel’s line with Ethiopia’s; this led to his majesty being born.

Garcia: Do you speak any other languages other than english?

Campbell: I speak a little bit of Amharic which is the language we use in church.


Garcia: What indigenous foods, to your culture, do you eat?

Campbell: Well, we eat lots of Jamaican foods at home like stews and callaloo which is like spinach. Also, when we go to church we eat something that is like a tortilla, but it is an unleavened bread with different stews.


Garcia: What is the most important holiday to your family?

Campbell: It would probably have to be between Genna, which is our Christmas, or July 23rd which is the birthday of his Imperial Majesty.  


Garcia: What is considered disrespectful or respectful?

Campbell: Well, I have gotten comments like “Oh, do you wash your hair?” which is disrespectful because I mean everyone washes their hair. I do not mind showing my hair because I know people like to look and are intrigued by what is underneath. The main reason as to why my family and I wear the rasta is to separate ourselves from those who wear their pants really low, show their dreadlocks, wear the grillz and chains. The rasta shows that we hold ourselves to a standard, we wear belts and our shirts tucked in.


Garcia: What is a commonly held misconception about your culture?

Campbell: I know a lot of people like to say that people who wear “rastas” smoke marijuana but it is not true for everyone. There are people, like my family, that stay pure and do not participate in these acts.


Garcia: How do you integrate your culture into your daily life?

Campbell: We pray every morning, we give thanks, I usually wear my belt that has the Ethiopian colors. Green represents the land, bold the prosperity and riches of the land and red the blood of the people. Our flag is the line of Judah Flag which kind of represents Christ and the four tribes of Israel.


Garcia: Are there any events that you attend annually?

Campbell: Every January 7th we travel to Tampa and it is a nice road trip. We go to Tampa since there are not many Ethiopian churches around, so we try to go to that one. We usually try to take a family friend.


Garcia: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Campbell: We, as rasta, we try to stay pure and stick to goodness. I personally do not like it when people present themselves in a wrong manner because it is against what we believe in: the purity and goodness around us. Try not to judge so much.