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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Selected Examples Of Referents For Black People In Children's Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Revised June 23, 2017]

This pancocojams post provides selected examples of referents for Black people in English language children's rhymes. The word "rhymes" in this post is a generic term "rhymes" that refers to multiple children's recreational compositions including jump rope rhymes, hand clap rhymes, singing games, parodies, "choosing it' rhymes, chants, children's cheerleader cheers, and the sub-set of cheerleader cheers that I call "foot stomping cheers" but which some people call "steps".

The following referents for Black people are included in these rhyme examples:
Black
Brown
Colored
Soul sister
the spades
-snip-
In addition, this post documents some examples of children's rhymes that include the line "step back jack/your hands are too black" and examples of children's rhymes that include the line "Get your black hands off of me".

Many children's rhymes from the past and the present include what is commonly known as "the n word" -either fully spelled out or given in some euphemistically represented form such as I've done. However, I've chosen not to include any children rhymes that include the "n word" in this compilation.

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The content of this post is presented for folkloric and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

DISCLAIMER:
This should not be considered a comprehensive listing of English children's rhymes that include references to Black people.

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PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S COMMENTS
This post doesn't include any analysis of or comments about these examples except for my general editorial statement and except for comments about these rhyme examples:
1. [some versions of] "I Love Coffee, I Love Tea" rhymes
2. the phrase "the spades go" [found as an introduction to some "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" rhymes]
3. the line "dark as the Black boy chasing me" [found in some versions of "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" rhymes]
4. the line "Get your black hands off of me."

These comments will be given after each of those entries.

Generally speaking, these referents can be given as
-a racial identification/ statement of fact, with likely positive connotations (one example: "This brown girl is going to boogie for you.")

or

-as a racial identification/ statement of fact without positive or negative connotations (one example: "I gonna get a black boy to beat your behind".), although this example might also have positive connotations.

or

-as a racial descriptor with negative connotations (examples: "Get your black hands off of me", "Your skin is too black/you look like a monkey on a railroad track", and "darker than the black boy chasing me").

It's my position that some White people and other non-Black people might use Black racial referents with negative connotations in children's rhymes not because they are actually racist, but as a reflection of societal norms and as a way of engaging in risque behavior with little or no real consequences (depending on where, when, and around whom they use those terms.

When Black people use Black racial referents with negative connotations we* are also reflecting societies negative connotations of our race, but I think that the element of engaging in risque behavior is less a factor- or is a different factor than when those referents are use by non-Black people.

*I use that inclusive pronoun although I can't recall myself doing this.

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EXAMPLES OF CHILDREN'S RHYMES THAT INCLUDE REFERENCES TO BLACK PEOPLE
These examples are given under the rhyme name and are presented in no particular order. Multiple examples that are given within each listing are numbered for referencing purposes only.

The Black racial referents with their accompanying noun are given in italics to highlight that referent. Note that the racial referent "White" may also be include in some of these examples.

I. NINETEEN MILES TO BLACKBERRY CROSS
"Nineteen miles to Blackberry Cross,
To see a Black Man ride on a white horse.
The rogue was so saucy he wouldn't come down
To show me the road to the nearest town.
I picked up a turnip and cracked his old crown,
And made him cry turnups all over the town
-Guest, Children's Street Songs, 01 Jul 04 - 03:18 AM

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II. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, CHILDREN TOO
"Ladies and gentlemen, children too
This brown girl
She gonna boogie for you
She gonna turn all around
She gonna wear her dresses up above her knees
She gonna shake her fanny just as much as she please.
I never went to college.
I never went to school.
But when it comes to boogie,
I can boogie like a fool.
You go in out, side to side.
You go in out, side to side.
- Barbara Ray (African American female), memory of childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s; collected in November 1996 & in August 2009 (second interview) by Azizi Powell

**
2. Partial introduction to The Pointer Sisters' performance of the Jazz song “Wang Dang Doodle” without any instrumental musical accompaniment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G6a6bIrmg8
"Thank you!
Here we go:

Walkin down the alley, alley, alley
Shakin your jally, jally, jally.
Swingin your partner, partner, partner.
LADIES, and gentlemen, children too
These brown babies gonna boogie for YOU."...

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III. I LOVE COFFEE I LOVE TEA, (also known as "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" and "Down Down Baby"
1. "This may be classed as un PC now but.this is what we sang ...

I like coffee
I like tea
I like sitting on a black man's knee

we sang it as a skipping song "
-sasbear [Female], http://britishexpats.com/forum/barbie-92/playground-songs-448434/page3/, May 9th 2007, 12:03 am, #39

**
2. "I like coffee
I like coffee I like tea I like sitting on a black mans knee With a one and a two and a three on "three lift your skirt, turn tround quickly, bend over and show your bum< -http://www.odps.org/glossword/index.php?a=term&d=3&t=381, retrieved June 22, 2017
-snip-
The directions given beginning with "with a one..." are given in italics in this example.

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3. Down, down baby
Down, down the roller coaster
Sweet, sweet baby
I'll never let you go
Chimey chimey cocoa pop
Chimey, chimey pow
Chimey, chimey cocoa pop
Chimey, chimey pop
I like coffee, I like tea
I like a colored boy and he likes me
So lets here the rhythm of the hands, (clap, clap) 2x
Let hear the rhythm of the feet (stomp, stomp) 2x
Let's hear the rhythm of the head (ding dong) 2x
Let's hear the rhythm of the hot dog
Let's hear the rhythm of the hot dog
Put em all together and what do you get
(Clap clap, stomp stomp), ding dong, hot Dog!
-Yasmin Hernadez; 2004; memories of New York City {Latino/ African American neighborhood in the 1980s; www.cocojams.com [This was my website. It is no longer active.]

**
4. Down down baby
down down the roller coaster
sweet sweet baby
sweet sweet i love you so
Jimmy Jimmy coco puffs
Jimmy Jimmy pow
Jimmy Jimmy coco puffs
Jimmy Jimmy pow
take a peach
take a plum
take a stick of bubblegum
no peach
no plum
just a stick of bubblegum
I like coffee and i like tea
I like a colored boy and he likes me
So step back whiteboy you don't shine
I'll get my colored boy to beat ya behind
He beat ya high
he beat ya low
he beat you all the way to Mexico
-Aiakya at April 4, 2006; http://blog.oftheoctopuses.com/000518.php. [website no longer available], retrieved by Azizi Powell in 2006.

**
5. "I went to elementary school starting in 1980, in Bloomfield, Connecticut (adjacent to Hartford). The girls (including my sister) did clapping games on the bus everyday it seemed, and when they hung out in the street, etc. Demographic note: my family is White; Blacks (including many Jamaicans) are a majority in the town, and were most of our playmates.

The version to this one went:

I like coffee, I like tea
I like a Black/White boy an' he likes me
So step back White/Black boy, you don't shine
I'll get a Black/White boy to beat your behind."

The girls would switch the race of the boy, depending on who was singing. Sometimes there'd be confusion if a White and a Black girl were playing together, and they'd sort of get jumbled up on that word and try to push their version. Sometimes they would agree on a skin tone based on a previous conversion about who the girl whose "turn" it was actually "likes."
From GUEST,Gibb (, 05 Mar 09 - 12:21 AM, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=115045&messages=66, Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme

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6."Ina Lina Thumbelina
Two times Thumbelina
Iriatchee Liriatchee
I love you
Take a piece take a plum
not a piece of bubblegum
I like coffee I like tea
I like a Black/White boy
And he likes me
So step back White/Black boy
You don't shine
I gotta a Black/White boy
To kick your behind
See that house on top of the hill
Thats where me and my baby gnna leave
We gnna chop some wood
Eat some meat
Come on Babi
Lets go to sleep
- GUEST,17yr old kid at heart:), Children's Street Songs,20 Jul 10 - 11:47 AM
-snip-
I reformatted this example from essay form and all capital letters.

This example reflects the much higher value placed on how fast a person can write something online than whether the comment contains correctly spelled words and the correct use of punctuation or any punctuation.

"gnna"= gonna [going to]

**
Read the above comment from Gibb about the meaning of "Black/White" in these "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" rhymes.

Also, hat tip to Patrick B. Mullen, author of The Man who Adores the Negro: Race and American Folklore https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0252074866 for his comment [on page 171] that females of one race might indicate a racial preference for males of another race "as reflection of her individual preference." In the example that Mullen gives of that rhyme in his book [on page 170-171] two African American sisters chanted "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" and at the same time one girl said "I love a white boy" and the other sister said I love a black boy". Prior to reading this I thought that the [Black/White] referents in these rhyme examples meant that a Black girl and a White girl were chanting this rhyme together and that the Black girl said "I like a Black boy" and the White girl said "I like a White girl".

**
7."Went to a pretty racially mixed elementary school in Georgia in the early 90's. We white girls *definitely* knew Down Down Baby as a story of white aggression:

"I like ice cream
I like tea
I like a white boy and he likes me
So stand back, black boy
You don't shine
I got a white boy to beat ya behind!"

I don't remember ever seeing black girls doing that rhyme, so I don't know if they did it differently. But as a child it made sense to me that the rhyme would assert white dominance. It was just another example of the casual racism we were immersed in in rural Georgia. Even at that age my white friends and I understood that a white boy beating up a black boy for flirting with his girl was the expected norm, not the other way around.
- GUEST,mindy, 28 Feb 2015 Lyr Add: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
-snip-
Here's a comment that I wrote in 2008 about contemporary (post 1970s?) racialized examples of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea":
From http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=115045" "Not Last Night But The Night Before", Azizi Powell

" "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" {also known as "I Like Coffee I Like Tea"} handclap rhymes are unique among contemporary English language children's rhymes from the USA because of their references to race. This is a marked change from the "standard" versions of this children's rhyme. The standard version {meaning the version of this rhyme that is usually published in books} contains no references to race and no contentious encounters between the children. But these rhymes are also unique just because of their reference to race, a topic which is seldom mentioned in other children's rhymes that I have collected from {mostly} African American children, teens, and adults over the last twenty years.

Based on the number of examples that have been sent to my website on children's rhymes in the last five years, and also based on the examples that I have read elsewhere on the Internet, these versions of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" are rather widely known throughout the USA. In each of the examples that I've heard {in Western and Eastern Pennsylvania} and that I've read online, a Black girl rejects the offer of romantic friendship from a White boy and boasts that he doesn't shine*. The Black girl then threatens that White boy by saying she will get a Black boy to beat his behind**. It should be noted that to date, I haven't heard or read any example of this rhyme that contains the pattern of a White girl saying "step back Black boy". I have read one example in which the lines are "Step back White girl, you don't shine/I'mma get a Black boy to beat your behind". It's important to note that I've not found any examples of this "racialized" version of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" in any off-line publication {books, magazines}, though examples of this version may be included in children's folklore journals.

The pattern for this "racialized" version of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" indicates to me that it originated among Black people. That said, I've read online examples of this book that appear to have been recited by White children since they use the racial referent "colored boy", a racial referent that has been retired by African Americans for forty years or so {except for its retention in names of some organizations, especially the NAACP}. However, I that conclusion may not always be valid. For instance, I received an example of this rhyme that used the term "colored boy" from a Latino woman who indicated that she remembered the rhyme from her childhood in a Black/Latino borough of New York City in the 1990s.

I don't think that the use of the old referent {"colored"} means that the examples are from the time when that term was used as a group or individual referent by African Americans. Were that the case, it seems to me that some examples of that rhyme would have been included or referenced in books of American children's rhymes that were published during those decades or since. That doesn't appear to be the case.

I believe that the racial referents that are widely found in these contemporary versions of "I Love Coffee, I Love Tea" rhymes reflect & document the racial tensions that were {are being?} experienced in newly integrated schools and/or other newly integrated social settings. For more commentary and examples of this rhymes, visit here.

* My interpretation of "don't shine" is that the girl is saying that the boy doesn't measure up to her standards; he's not someone whose personality or physical being shines brightly.

** "Beat your behind" means "fight you"; "beat you up" "
-snip-
Since I wrote that comment, I've learned that the racial referents in versions of "I Love Coffee" aren't as unique as I thought they were. That said, with regard to another example of race in "I Love Coffee" rhymes, I believe that "I like sitting on a black man's knee" are older examples of this rhyme which may be "localized" in the United Kingdom.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/racialized-versions-of-i-like-coffee-i.html for a few other racialized versions of "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" rhymes.

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IV. MISS SUSIE HAD A STEAMBOAT
"Kids Dont jump rope to this song im in the fourth grade and we just sing it we dont do any movements to the song
Miss Suzie had a steam boat
The Steamboat had a bell
Mrs.Suzie went to heaven
The steamboat went to

Hello Operator
Give me number 9
if you disconnect me
I'll kick you from

Behind the refrigerator
there was a piece of glass
Miss Suzie sat upon it
And broke her little

Ask me no more questions
ill tell you no more lies
The boys are in the bathroom
Zipping down their

Flies are in the meadow
Bees are in the grass
The boys and girls
Are kissing in the

D-A-R-K D-A-R-K
Darker than the ocean
Darker than the sea
Darker than the black boy
That's chasing after me

Dark is like a movie
A movie is like a show
A show is like a T.V. set
And that is all I...

Know my dad is a robber
I know my mom is a spy
I know that I'm the little brat that
Told the F.B.I.

My mom gave me a nickel
My dad gave me a dime
My sis' gave me a girlfriend
And I know she's is witch

she made me wash the dishes
she made me wash the floor
she made me wash her underwear
So I kicked her out the door

I kicked her over London
I kicked her over France
I kicked her to Hawaii"
Guest, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=90418, RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread, 27 Feb 11 - 01:54 PM
-snip-
I reformatted this example to separate its strung together verses.

The example "dark as the Black boy chasing me" [which is usually found in some versions of "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat"] is probably has a negative racial connotation for non-Black people that it doesn't have for Black people. Also, the "dark as the Black boy chasing me" line probably doesn't have the same scary or titillating meanings for Black chanters as might have for White chanters.

Also, I don't think that any skin color tone (as in "dark skin" or "light skin" Black people) has any relevance to this particular children's rhyme.

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V. I AM A PRETTY LITTLE GIRL
[variant title: I AM A SECOND GRADER]
"Zing Zing Zing
at the bottom of the sea.
I am a little __ second grade*
as pretty as can __ be be. {"___" indicates one beat before recitation begins again}.
And all the boys around my house
go crazy over __ me me.

My boyfriend's name is __ Yellow.
He comes from Ala__bama
with 25 toes
and a pickle on his nose
and this is how the story goes.
One day I was ah __ walkin
I saw my boyfriend __ talking
to a very pretty girl
with cherry pie curls
And this is what she said
"I L-O-V-E __ love you."
"I K-I-S-S __ kiss you."
"I A-D-O-R-E __ adore you"
So S-T-O-P. STOP!
1-2-3-4
Get your black hands off of me!
-Diarra, K'azsa, and Michelle, Fort Pitt Elementary School, Pittsburgh, Pa, 2004; collected by Azizi Powell, 2004
-snip-
*"Second grad" = "second grader", the girls' year in elementary school
"1,2,3,4" is usually given as the rhyming phrase "1,2,3".
-snip-
In April 2010, I collected the same rhyme from two 9 year old African American girls (Takeya and Alexus) who live in the same neighborhood as Fort Pitt Elementary School (now titled Fort Pitt Accelerated Learning Academy). When the rhyme called for the girls to give their grades, one girl chanted "I am a second grader" and the other girl chanted "I am a third grader". Both girls said the "get your black hands off of me" line."

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VI. STEP BACK, JACK (YOUR HANDS ARE TOO BLACK)
Note: This couplet could be a stand alone rhyme, but is often found in other children's rhymes such as "I Love Coffee I Love Tea".

1. "down down baby down by the rollercoaster
sweet sweet baby, I'll never let you go
shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rah!
shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rah!
I like candy, I like tea, I like a little boy
and he likes me.
so step off jack, your hands are black
your looking like a monkey on a rail road track
To the front to the back to the side by side
To the front to the back to the side by side,
Ladies and gentlemen children too
this old lady's gonna boogie for you
she's gonna turn around
touch the ground
boogie boogie boogie till her pants fall down!!!

this version i remember from when i was little..i loved it!!"
-GUEST,guest..jenna, Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes, 01 Oct 10 - 04:12 PM

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2. "Lol. I'm a guy and I remember Black girls saying this in the 70s in Tx. They said "Step back Jack, your hands too black. Looking like a monkey on a railroad track"
-GUEST,Jj Peterson, Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes 26 Mar 16 - 04:45 PM

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VII. I'LL BE
"I'll be. be
Walking down the street,
Ten times a week.
Un-gawa. Un-gawa {baby}
This is my power.
What is the story?
What is the strike?
I said it, I meant it.
I really represent it.
Take a cool cool Black to knock me down.
Take a cool cool Black to knock me out.
I'm sweet, I'm kind.
I'm soul sister number nine.
Don't like my apples,
Don't shake my tree.
I'm a Castle Square Black
Don't mess with me."
-John Langstaff, Carol Langstaff Shimmy Shimmy Coke-Ca-Pop!, A Collection of City Children's Street Games & Rhymes {Garden City, New York, Double Day & Co; p. 57; 1973}
-snip-
"What is the story"/"What is the strike" = "What's happening". "What's up?".
"Take a cool cool Black to knock me down" = It would take a cool, cool Black [person] to knock me down. "Cool" is used in its vernacular sense and means "hip" (up to date with the latest street culture and also "unruffled", in control of her or his emotions.
"Castle Square" is probably a neighborhood or a housing development [a housing project] within a neighborhood known as "Castle Square".

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VIII. UNGAWA, WE GOT THE POWA
1. "soul sister number nine stuck it to me one more time
said un, ungawa, we got the power
said un, ungawa we got the power
little sunny walker walking down the street
she don't know what to do
so she jump in front of me
and said go on girl do your thing,
do your thing,do your thing,
said go on girl do your thing, do your thing, stop!
-snip-
ayraness, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWbVAbCwc_M, This video is entitled "serbiiis" and is a poor visual quality video of two girls doing hand clapping routine in a car; on Sep 21, 2009

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2. "My husband actually taught my daughter's a song that he remembered as a child in the late 60s/early 70s.

Hey you, over there, with the nappy nappy hair.
My back is achin' my pants too tight, my bootie shakin' from the left to right
M' Gowa, Black Power, yo' mama needs a shower.
Destroy, little boys, soul sister number nine, sock it to me one more time.
Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!"
GUEST,Shamiere, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4300, Children's Street Songs, 24 Mar 04 - 02:25 PM

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IX. TWO LIPS
[with introductory phrase: "The spades go"]
1. "I remember parts of this song:

The spades go two lips together
tie them together
bring back my love to me.

What is the me-ee-eening
of all these flow-er-er-ers
they tel the sto-or-or-y,
the story of love,
from me to you.

I saw the ship sail away,
it sailed three years and a day,
my love is far far away,
and I love him so, oh yes I do.

My heart goes bump ba de dump bump,
bump ba de dump bump,
over my love for you.

You are my one and only,
I love you passionately,
Source: Guest, susan; http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=81350 I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes

**
2.
"Nobody has mentioned my favorite one, which had a more complicated clapping pattern than most of the rest:

The spades go:
Two lips together, tie them forever
Bring back my love to me
What is the me-ee-eaning
Of all these flo-ow-owers
They tell the sto-o-ory
The story of love
From me to you

My [someone] bought a new car
He painted it red with a star
He crashed it into a rock
And now he’s dead, oh yes sirree

(and lots of other verses I don’t remember)"
-DemiGoddess, https://kateharding.net/2009/10/02/miss-lucy-had-friday-fluff/, October 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm
-snip-
Here's a comment that I wrote in a 2012 pancocojams post https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-real-meaning-of-spades-go-space-go.html "The REAL Meaning Of "The Spades Go" & "The Space Go" In Playground Rhymes":
"I believe that most children who chant rhymes that begin with the phrase "the spades go" didn't in the past and don't currently attribute any meaning whatsoever to those particular words. Instead, children say those words, if not the entire rhyme, by rote memory and focus more on the rhythm and the performance activity.

That said, it's my position that, early on, when a specific meaning was given to the introductory phrase the "spades go", that phrase meant "(This is the way) Black people go (say or do this rhyme). Unlike the idiom "calling a spade a spade"*, no pejorative connotations were/are attributed to the words "the spades go" in children's rhymes. Saying "the spades go" was a way of attributing the words of those rhymes or the way the rhymes were performed to Black people (or more specifically, to Black girls). That attribution lent authenticity to those rhymes and/or to their performance activities. That was because Black girls were (and still are) considered to be the arbiters of "the real way" that those songs or those hand clap rhymes were/are supposed to be sung, or chanted and performed...

[Furthermore] Black girls were/are considered to be the sources of many of these rhymes, or were/are considered to be the "coolest" or "hippest" examples of how those rhymes should be performed. This same dynamic can be found in the use of introductory phrases as "the Black people say" or "the Black people sing" in vaudeville songs. And this same dynamic can be found in past and current attitudes that mainstream American (i.e. White America) had/has about Black people being the "go to" population when it comes to learning how to do popular R&B/Hip Hop dances."....
-snip-
This comment was reformatted by me for clearer readability.

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X.ET FROM OUTER SPACE
1. ET. ET.
ET from outer space.
He has an ugly face.
Sittin in a rocket
eatin very tocket
watchin the clock go
Tick tock
tick tock shawally wally
ABCDEFG
You betta get your black hands offa me
You gotta smoooth cho
You gotta smoooth cho
You gotta smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth. Now Freeze!
(alternative last line: My mama said "Black eye peas").
-Kiera, African American girl, 8 years old, (Pleasantville, New Jersey) and Kion, African American male, 6 years old, (Pleasantville, New Jersey), 11/8/2008l collected by Azizi Powell
-snip-
"You gotta smoooth cho" is also found in some "Miss Sue From Alabama" rhymes as "take a smooth shot".

**
2. E.T.::clap clap::
E.T.::clap clap::
E.T. from outer space
he had an ugly face
sittin in a rocker eatin betty crocker
watchin the clock go tick tock
tick tock she walla wala
tick tock she walla wala
A. B.C.D. E. F.G.
YOU BETTA CET CHO BLACK HANDS OFFA ME
I gota smooth shaa(?)
I gota smooth shaa(?)
I gota smooth smooth smoth smooth shaa(?)
and then u say sumthin like ya name and then go FREEZE! LOL!
-SharmaineB: http://bn-in.facebook.com/notes.php?id=505682703&_fb_noscript=1 “HandClaps Throwbacks”; posted 2007; retrieved 9/15.2009
-snip-
"smooth shea" probably means "smooth shot". People probably did a sliding side to side movement while chanting that line.

**
3.
ET
ET from outer space.
He had an ugly face.
Sitting in a rocket.
Eating chocolate.
Watching soap operas
All day long.
A B C D E F G
Get your black hands off of me.
Now freeze!
-Naijah S.; (African American female, 9 years old; Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; January 14, 2011; Collected by Azizi Powell 1/14/2011
-snip-
[Note written January 2011] While waiting for others to come to an African storytelling session that I was commissioned to do for children of members of Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority Inc. a historically Black sorority, I took the opportunity to collect rhyme examples from a little girl who had arrived early.
Naijah recited "ET" without my asking for it by name. She said that the "ABCDEFG" part is used in another rhyme which she later recited. (Read "I Am A First Grader" in this Hand clap rhyme series.

*I said to Naijah that I heard that "get your Black hands off of me line before in other rhymes and I
wondered if if meant that people were ashamed of being Black. Naijah looked shocked and said "I enjoy my heritage".
-snip-
I've never heard of or read any children's rhyme with the line "Get your White hands off of me" or "Get your brown hands off of me". In spite of (then) nine year old Naijah's response to my question, I still believe that "black" in the line "Get your Black hands off of me" reflects some Black people's continued use of "black" as an insult.

To provide some background to some Black children's use of "black" as an insult, in 2005-2006 I worked as a substitute teacher at a predominately (99.9%) African American elementary school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania {Fort Pitt school]. On several occasions, I had to stop arguments between two Black students in which one student called the other student "Blackie". And, sometimes, the person calling the student "Blackie" was darker than the student that was being addressed by that term.

My daughter who was a teacher at that school, shared with me that some newly enrolled students at that school from Somalia, East Africa were being taunted by some African American students at that school because of their dark skin color.

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XI. EENY MEENY SYSALEENY (also known as "Take A Peach Take A Plum"]
Hi I live in East Harlem in New York and hand games are very much alive.
Eeny Meeny
Sys a leeny,
ooh aah tumble leeny,
ochy Cochy Liver achy
I Love you.
Take a peach
take a plum
not a stick of bubble gum.
No peach no plum
just a stick of bubble gum.
I saw you with your boyfriend last night.
I looked through the window.
Nosey.
I ate a bag of cookies.
Greedy.
I didn't take a bath.
Dirty.
I jumped out the window .
Now I know you crazy.
I like icecream
I like tea
I like the color boys
and they like me
so step off white boy
you don't shine,
I'm gonna get my boyfriend
to kick your behind.
He'll kick you up,
he'll kick you down,
he'll kick you all around the town.

(very racial driven at the end I know)
-Guest, KLC (East Harlem, New York, New York) ; http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63097 "Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?" ; July 10, 2008
-snip-
Here's is part of the response that KLC posted on that Mudcat discussion thread to my request that she provide demographical information about who plays this rhyme and other rhymes she shared:
"The children that play these games range from 5 - 12 years old. Both boys and girls play these games but girls are more into it and know a lot more hand games then the boys. The children that I see playing these games are Hispanic, African American, Carribean, Caucasian and Asian because that is the population that I serve at my program."
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3 comments:

  1. Children's rhymes that include references to "Black power" (such as "Ungawa Black Powa!" without any other Black racial referents) could also be included in this category.

    Another group of children's rhymes that could be included in this category are the "Momma's having a baby' rhymes that refer to a "chocolate baby".

    ReplyDelete
  2. A reader comment that was sent in to a pancocojams post about the Caribbean singing game "Brown Girl In The Ring"* reminded me that that singing game is another example of the use of racial referents for Black people in children's recreational material.

    *https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/03/is-caribbean-game-song-brown-girl-in.html Is The Caribbean Game Song "Brown Girl In The Ring" Racist?

    Here's an excerpt that I wrote in that post in which I shared that a [perhaps earlier] title for that song was "Black Boy In The Ring":

    "The title "Brown Girl In The Ring" is routinely given for this game song. However, the title "There's a black boy in a ring" is included in a list of "ring tunes" (circle songs) in this 1904 book "Jamaican Song And Story: Annancy Stories, Digging Sings, Ring Tunes, and Dancing Tunes. With introductory essays." by
    Walter Jekyll, coll. and edit., 1904 (Dover reprints), The Folk-lore Society, LV. [posted by Q (Frank Staplin) on http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=138255#3168488 "Songbook Indexing: Calypso/Caribbean Songbooks"

    That same discussion thread but a different post (comment) includes a listing for a Jamaican song entitled "See Ma Little Brown Boy?". That song is included in the book Calypso Songs Of The West Indies by Massie Patterson and Lionel Belasco (1943)."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People reading this pancocojams post might also be interested in a 2006 discussion thread that I started and participated: http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=90660%20?iframe=true "Skin color in songs & singers' names".

      I had forgotten about that discussion thread until I looked up information about the Bahamian band "Exuma" as a pancocojams commenter today had sent me information that that band was the first to include the lyrics "Bluehill waters run dry" in the "Bown Girl In The Ring" song.

      Part of my response to that pancocojams commenter was that I didn't know that [Exuma] band, but (via Google search), I found out that I had apparently mentioned Exuma in that 2006 Mudcat discussion thread.

      It also might be pertinent to share the following comment that I wrote in that 2006 Mudcat thread in response to two comments which criticized my focus on the influence of and/or mention of race and skin color in folk music and in other music:

      "I deny that I have a "fixation" about race. However, I am very much interested about what & how thoughts, attitudes & concerns about race influence or has influenced the thoughts, attitudes, concerns, and behavior of people.

      Why I am interested in that general subject is largely beyond the scope of this specific thread.

      I would hope that this thread does not drift into a generalized commentary about race relations and issues of race itself in the USA and/or elsewhere.

      I intend to limit my comments in this thread to the specific topics of references to skin color as they are found in lyrics or in the names of vocalists/celebrities.

      I hope those who wish to discuss the general issue of race and race relations would find other Mudcat threads to do so, or would start a new thread on those topics."
      -snip-
      A Mudcat moderator eventually deleted the two critical comments writing that "I have deleted the two references above. They were an attempt to hijack the thread and offered nothing to the conversation that the author of the thread intended. Please stick to the topic. Azizi isn't the topic. The thread title says it all."
      -snip-
      As background, I'll also note that-with one brief exception and also excluding the participation for some years of a person who identified as Black from Australia - I was the only self-identified Black person who was a member of Mudcat folk music discussion forum during the almost five years that I actively posted there. That fact influenced the amount of postings that I initiated on that forum about race and also influenced the amount of comments that I responded to on that forum about race and about racism, often in response to published queries that were directed to me by name asking my opinions of and/or explanations about racial incidences that were current then.(For example, what "nappy headed ho" meant).

      Those described dynamics were part of my reasons for starting this pancocojams blog in 2011 and withdrawing from that folk music forum from which I learned so much and I (largely) enjoyed being a part of.

      Delete