In recent weeks, a new TikTok trend has influenced many to add a new word to their vocabulary: bumboclaat. While this word is widely used among the Jamaican community, it’s never had a single, finite definition. Being from a diverse community, I’ve learned a few phrases of Jamaican Patois from my Jamaican peers and learned to appreciate the versatility of the language. “Bumboclaat” is an ‘enhancer’ of sentences, used to emphasize the overall message of a given sentence. As its usage continues to rise, it is important to steer clear of potential stereotypes and practice cultural appreciation, not appropriation.

I interviewed two Jamaican-American students who noticed the word becoming more popular in recent weeks. When asked her opinion on this trend, Ruth Morgan, a first-year at Georgetown University commented, “It’s definitely due to the rise in white TikTok creators using the word on the app.” Morgan goes on to explain her stance on the matter, “There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and to me, it’s lowkey on the appropriation side. 

She adds, “Jamaicans do, however, like when people partake or enjoy parts of our culture (especially when it comes to music or vocabulary).” While she attends a fellow Jesuit institution more than 280 miles away, Morgan’s outlook is not unique. 

Tiara Campbell, a first-year at Fairfield University agrees with Morgan’s stance. When talking about those who use the term after it became popular on Tik-Tok, Campbell states, “If they were using the term correctly, it wouldn’t be that bad, but they’re not.”

“People who appreciate Jamaican culture do not use the word, instead they try to immerse themselves with other things. If I had a Jamaican event right now, they would not show up,” she concludes. 

Campbell’s point on the lack of support for affinity-related events on campus is felt throughout the (non-white) community and is something I’ve noticed myself. The well-known aspects of diverse groups are well-received by the campus community, such as a love for diverse music, slang and food. When invited to social justice events or affinity celebrations, attention is lost. 

Sharing language, values, music, food and other aspects of culture are things that bring us all together. But using these aspects without proper knowledge does more harm than good. Things can get lost in translation and add to harmful stereotypes. For language specifically, the true use of words gets lost, and an important part of a cultural identity becomes washed out. “Bumboclaat” is not the first word to be treated as a funny trend. 

Reem Kharbouch ‘27 shared stories of people randomly saying “Allahu Akbar” to her family while in town just because her mother wears a hijab. No matter the culture, specific words being used out of context is an overused narrative that gets repeated for almost every identity of people.     

Using these words properly is a reminder that we are a group of people from backgrounds that trace back to every corner of the map, yet share such a precious moment in time together where we can learn from each other and celebrate what makes us unique. Words are powerful and can do tremendous harm or good depending on the context. If you can’t be funny without possibly offending someone, then you aren’t funny in the first place. Stick to words you can define.

About The Author

- Freshman | Assistant Sports Editor | Political Science Major -

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