Translate

Monday, September 4, 2017

The REAL Origin Of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" Rhymes (from 1938 to 2016)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides information about the "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes and debunks the belief that the original rhyme (and the contemporary versions of this rhyme that I have found to date)* have anything whatsoever to do with insulting Mexicans, and/or anything to do with illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States and/or deportation of Mexicans from the USA.*

*I recognize that some adults believe that "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes demean Mexicans, and/or refer to illegal immigration/deportation. However, I think those associations with this rhyme come from adults, and aren't what most children think of when they chant and play "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes.
-snip-
[Update: Added September 6, 2017 at 2:07 PM]
In spite of the fact that early versions of the rhyme that became "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" had nothing to do with Mexico and in spite of the fact that later versions of that rhyme probably don't have anything to do with Mexico and/or Mexicans, context is important. Given the political realities of immigration and deportation, and given prejudice against Latinos/Latinas, it probably isn't a great idea for children to recite versions of that rhyme that mention "Mexico"- note the other versions of that rhyme that are featured in this pancocojams post.

****
This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on urban legends about children's rhymes. That series uses this definition of urban legends: "a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror" http://www.dictionary.com/browse/urban-legend

Click the "urban legends about children's rhymes" tag for other pancocojams posts in this series.

Also, click the tag "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" for other pancocojams posts on this rhyme.

The content of the this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the contributors of these examples.
-snip-
DISCLAIMER: This post isn't meant to be a comprehensive collection of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes.

****
THE BACKGROUND STORY FOR "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO MEXICO NO MORE"
From http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/11/nyregion/fyi-323470.html?mcubz=0 "F.Y.I" by DANIEL B. SCHNEIDER, MARCH 11, 2001
"Macy's Doggerel

Q. Children in New York used to chant a clapping song, almost like a nursery rhyme, about not wanting to go to Macy's. How did it go?

A. Like this:

Oh, I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more

There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door

He'll pull you by the collar

And make you pay a dollar

Oh, I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more.

The authorship is obscure, but the rhyme was popular by the turn of the 20th century, and might have been associated with an incident that occurred when the modern department store was still in its infancy.

On Dec. 24, 1870, Elizabeth B. Phelps, a suffragist and woman of no small renown, was accused of petty thievery while shopping at Macy's, then at 14th Street and Sixth Avenue. At issue was a box of bonbons that Mrs. Phelps dropped on the floor that day. Margaret Grotty, a salesgirl, asserted that Mrs. Phelps was trying to steal it, while she insisted that it had fallen as she was trying to extract payment from her coin purse while juggling her packages. The store detective was summoned.

Mrs. Phelps's arrest was exhaustively covered by the popular press, and it turned out that several other well-to-do women had been detained at Macy's the same day, for other and seemingly innocent lapses in protocol. A judge threw Mrs. Phelps's case out of court, and Macy's was left to struggle with the perception that, whether due to class animosity or confusion over department store etiquette, innocent shoppers were routinely harassed. Though picket lines and boycotts were planned, they never materialized. The rhyme, whatever its origins, survived well into the 1950's."
-snip-
Notice that this article indicated that "I Won't Go To Macy's" was popular by the turn of the 20th century. However, the first published example of this rhyme wasn't until 1938 (as cited by barry popik in Excerpt #1 below).

Click http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/showthread.php?t=76535 "Should I forbid this?"- a discussion thread about whether parents should allow their children to chant "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes because the parents are concerned that the rhymes either demean Mexicans, and/or the parents are concerned that these rhymes have something to do with the deportation of Mexicans- which they don't support.

I was surprised to find that something I wrote on this subject in 2004 for my no longer active cocojams.com cultural blog was quoted early on in that discussion. That quote is given below.

****
A 2004 COMMENT I WROTE ABOUT "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO MEXICO" RHYMES

"I Don’t Want To Go To Mexico
Shame Shame Shame.
I don’t want to go to Mexico
no more, more, more.
There’s a big fat policeman
at door, door, door.
He’ll grab you by the collar
and make you pay a dollar.
I don’t want to go to Mexico
no more, more, more.
Shame.
-Multiple sources; posted by Azizi Powell, 2004

My comments:
"I Don’t Want To Go To Mexico” appears to be a widely known handclap rhyme. Like most hand clap rhymes, it is recited in unison.

I collected this version in 1998 from a number of school aged African American girls and boys living in various Pittsburgh, PA. neighborhoods.

In 2001, I also collected a version of this same rhyme from my school age Philadelphia cousins Breeana and Tonoya. Breena’s and Tonoya’s version also starts with “Shame, shame, shame” and has all of the same words until the section about the big, fat policeman. At that point they say: "if he pulls you by the collar, girl, you better holler”. Their version ends with the players saying “I don’t want to go to Mexico, no more, more, more” / “Shut the door!” Each partner tries to be the first to say “shut the door!”. Whoever says it first, lightly taps the other player on the shoulder or on the side of their head and then points to them in a “Got ya!” manner.

Barbara Michel's and Bettye White's 1983 book of African American children's rhymes Apple On A Stick contains a version of this rhyme from Houston, Texas [entitled] “I Don’t Want To Go To College.” That rhyme has the same words as the examples mentioned above, up to and including the line "at the door door door". It then continues by saying:
See what I mean,
Jelly Bean.
Wash your face with gasoline.
Jump in a lake.
Swallow a snake.
Come back home with a tummy ache.

The source for all of these versions is probably the rhyme “I Don’t Want To Go To Macy’s.” Roger Abraham notes in his collection Jump-Rope Dictionary that "I Don't Want To Go To Macy's" was documented as being performed by American children in 1938. “Macy’s” is the name of a chain of department stores. The most famous Macy's store is located in New York City.

My theory is that these children substituted "Mexico" for "Macys" since they weren't familiar with the "Macy's" store or the word “Macy’s”. This is an example of “folk etymology” Folk etymology occurs when people change foreign words or unfamiliar words into familiar words or sounds that are similar to the word they don’t know.

The original version of “I Don’t Want To Go To Macy’s” doesn’t have any introductory phrase, but a lot of African American songs have beginning (introductory) phrases such as “Shame, Shame, Shame”. One seven year old Pittsburgh girl recited the same version as other Pittsburgh children had shared with me, but she started the rhyme by saying “Shine, shine, shine”.

“Shine” may be another example of “folk etymology”. The girl may have thought she heard the word “shine” when she actually heard children saying “shame”. After all, it makes more sense to say “shame” then “shine” when talking about police grapping you by the collar.
-Azizi; cocojams.com [site no longer active]"

****
NOTES ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO MEXICO" RHYMES
The earliest title for "I Don't Want To Go To Macys" rhymes appears to be "I Won't Go To Macys". Children substituted the word "Mexico" for "Macys" because they weren't familiar with the "Macys" store or the word “Macys”. This is an example of “folk etymology”. Folk etymology occurs when people change foreign words or unfamiliar words into familiar words or sounds that are similar to the word they don’t know.

**
Like most jump rope rhymes, by at least the early 1970s, the performance activity for "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes (regardless of their titles) switched from jumping rope or ball bouncing to (usually a partner) hand clapping routine. However, like other partner hand clapping routines, "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" can also be played by a group of three or four persons. In most of the examples of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" that I've observed in person or via YouTube, people stand while doing the hand clap routine that accompanies chanting this rhyme.

**
I'm not sure whether "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" originated with African Americans, but that rhyme appears to be widely known among African Americans, and that rhyme appears to be known perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent among other people of other races/ethnic groups in the USA.

In my experience (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from around 1997-2008), like other (mostly non-competitive hand clap rhymes*) "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" was mostly performed by girls ages 5-12 years. Some boys (ages 5-8 years old) also performed this rhyme, but usually after age eight, boys would say that that rhyme (and other non-competitive hand clap rhymes*) were "girls stuff".

*I distinguish between (mostly non-competitive) hand clap rhymes such as "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" and competitive hand slaps (which are performed by a group of people forming a circle) such as "Stella Ella Ola" and "(versions of) "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky".

**
Since at least the 2000s, it appears that in the United States the rhyme "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico No More" is usually known as "Shame". That title comes from the introductory words "Shame Shame Shame" that are said before the rhyme's hand clapping pattern and the words for that rhyme actually began. The word "Shame!" is also usually said at the end of many examples of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico". In the context of these rhymes, "Shame" means "Aren't you ashamed?" or "You should be ashamed". The title "Shame" for "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes (including other versions in this rhyme family such as "I Don't Want To Go To Hollywood") originated with African Americans.

It should be noted that there are other children's hand clap rhymes that also begin with the words "Shame Shame Shame".* However, usually when African American girls say that they are going to do [the rhyme] "Shame", they mean "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico".
*For instance, the rhyme "Brick Wall Waterfall" as performed by two African American girls in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br9fAi7HdDk.

**
Beginning hand clap rhymes with three repeating words (such as "Shame Shame Shame"), or with a brief introductory phrase (such as "Zing Zing Zing in the deep blue sea") is a characteristic of many, but not all, African American children's rhymes. Most of the contemporary examples of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" (and other similar titles) have this introductory phrase, reflecting the influence of African Americans, if not "copying" off of and/or repeating African American examples of this rhyme (and other) African American created or influenced hand clap rhymes.

**
Since at least the 1990, many versions of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico", "Mexico" is usually replaced with some other place that the chanters don't want to go- i.e. "I don't want to go to Hollywood", "I Don't Want To Go To College", or "I don't want to go to school". However, one example below replaced "Mexico" with "Disney World".

In some contemporary rhymes, the "policeman" is replaced by "Michael Jackson" (i.e. there's a big fat Michael Jackson at the door", or "there's a skinny Michael Jackson at the door" or "there's a fake Michael Jackson at the door"). Some examples replace "policeman" with "a cute boy" or "two cute boys", or "a tall man" etc. Often in those rhymes, the person or persons at the door takes the girl by the hips and kisses her on her lips. In other versions, the person takes the girl by the pants and makes her do a dance.

A risque (1990s or later?) version of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" that appears to be quite widely chanted and quite popular has the person or persons at the door (policeman, Michael Jackson, cute boy etc) peeing on the floor. (Notice that "door" and "floor" rhyme), suggesting that "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" or, at least, this version of that rhyme is chanted by children as a way to challenge society's rules and experience being a little bit bad (i.e. not good) in a safe, relatively consequences free way.

For the record, when I was collecting examples of children's rhymes and cheers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (beginning in 1985, but most actively from 1997-2008), the only examples of "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" that I collected had the words that referenced "Mexico" and "policeman" and the words of those examples didn't include any peeing on the floor.

**
Although it wasn't an element in early examples of this rhyme, by at least the 1980s, a competitive and aggressive, if not violent, ending was added to "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" rhymes (whatever their titles/words). For instance, both partners doing the hand clap routine shout "Shame!" (or shout "Shut the door!") and try to be the first person to tap, poke, or hit their partner on the forehead. The person who is the first one to complete that action "wins" that hand clapping "contest".

****
MORE EXCERPTS ABOUT AND EXAMPLES OF "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO MEXICO" (Including Other Titles In That Rhyme Family)
These excerpts are given in chronological order based on their publishing date with the oldest dated excerpt /quote given first.

Excerpt #1.
From http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/i_wont_go_to_macys_any_more_more_more_jump_rope_jingle_1938 “I Won’t Go To Macy’s Any More, More More” (Jump-rope jingle, 1938) by Barry Popik, from January 27, 2005
"This New York "jump rope jingle" involves Macy's. It's also in the book Rimbles: A book of children's classic games, rhymes, songs, and sayings (1955, 1956, 1960, 1961) by Patricia Evans, pg. 30.

10 May 1938, New Masses, section two, pg. 109:
I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more!
I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more!
There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door!
He will squeeze me like a lemon.
A chalachke zol em nehmen.*
I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more!

(Also, as "New York Children's Street Rhymes and Songs", by Fred Rolland, pages 565-567, in Sidewalks of America: Folklore, Legends, Sagas, Traditions, Customs, Songs, Stories and Sayings of City Folk, edited by B. A. Botkin, Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1954 - ed.)

14 April 1946, New York Times, "Jump-Rope Jingles," pg. 109:

I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more.
There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door.
He takes me by the collar, and makes me pay a dollar.
So, I won't go to Macy's any more. more. more." "
-snip-
*No information is given about the meaning of this line.

Here's a comment from that article:
"Our grammar school in Newark, NJ had one city block cordoned off to serve as a play yard until the school bell rang. There, we played games such as this rhyme bouncing a rubber ball under our legs (Oh, I won’t go to Macy’s any more more more...)--so sweet, so innocent. Now, I can afford to go to Macy’s, but I would trade it in a minute for a rubber ball, my cousin Mary, Mary Ellen Flynn and the rest of the gang at St Columba’s. Those were the days, my friend".
-Posted by Elizabeth Garris on 01/05

****
Excerpt #2
From http://mudcat.org/jumprope/jumprope_display.cfm?rhyme_number=130
"I won't go to Macy's (* A big store in New York *)
Anymore, more, more.
There's a big fat policeman
At the door, door, door.
He takes me by the collar.
He makes me pay a dollar.
I won't go to Macy's
Anymore, more, more.

Source: Abrahams (1969)"

****
Excerpt #3
From http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63097 "Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?"
-Guest Brittany, June 4, 2011
"I do [still play hand games.]

Shame,shame,shame,
I dont wanna go to mexico,
no more more more,theres
a big fat policeman,
at the door door door,if you
grab him by the collar boy you better
hollar if you grab him by the pants,
boy you betta dance,i dont wanna go to mexico
no more more more shut the door

Im 13 and i still play that"

****
Excerpt #4:
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AClapping_game/Examples
"Shame, Shame, Shame
Shame, shame, shame (Both people put their hand together and go back and forth)
I don't want to go to mexico no (middle, top, middle, right hand grab, left hand grab)
more, more, more. (slap thigh, snap, clap right hands)
There's a big fat policeman(clap back of right hands, clap, back and forth)
at the door, door, door (middle, top, middle, right hand grab)
grabbed me by the collar, (left hand grab, slap thigh, snap, clap right hands)
made me pay a dollar. (clap back of right hands, clap, back and forth)
I don't want to go to mexico no (middle, up, middle, right hand grab, left hand grab)
more, more, more. (slap thigh, snap clap right hands)
SHAME! (both people point at the other's face)

alternate lyrics:
Shame, shame, shame, I don't want to go to Hollywood no more, more, more. There's a fake Michael Jackson at the door, door, door. Grabbed me by the hips, kissed me on the lips, I don't want to go to Hollywood no more, more, more SHAME! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.194.118.238 (talk) 04:39, 27 July 2014 (UTC)"

****
Excerpt #5
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55TnrD5re5g
[Pancocojams Editor's Note: This link is to a vlog hosted by a young Asian woman from Canada. The vlog and its numerous comments document and provide comments about the large amount of violence, "weirdness", and racist (especially toward Asians) words and performance activities that are found in contemporary children's rhymes. A number of commenters shared violent rhymes from non-English speaking nations, particularly from various nations in Europe and from various nations in South America. WARNING: Some of these examples include profanity and what is commonly known as the "n" word.]

1. TheParadoxSocks, 2015
"Here's one I did at my school
"Shame, shame, shame,
I don't wanna go to Mexico
No more, more, more,
There's a big fat policeman at the
Door, door, door
He'll grab you by the collar
Make you scream and holler,
I don't wanna go to Mexico
No more, more, more.

I never thought anything of it until once when I was 17 I sang it to a couple of my current friends, much to their horror, then immediately realized it's a song about deportation."

**
2. Jordan Smith, 2015
"We had two Mexico ones:

shame shame shame
I don't wanna go to Mexico no more more more
there's a big fat policeman at the door door door
he'll grab you by the collar, make you pay a dollar,
I don't wanna go to mexico no more more more
SHAME ON YOU

or:
shame shame shame
I wanna go to Mexico some more more more
there's a cute boy knockin on the door door door
he'll grab you by the hips, kiss you on the lips
I wanna go to Mexico some more more more
SHAME ON YOU"

**
3. Andrea Mercier, 2015
"We had one that was like
I wanna go to mexico some more, more , more
There's a big fat police man at the door,door,door
If you open the door he'll pee on the floor
I don't wanna go to mexico no more, more, more

Mexico alternated with Hollywood and the fat police man sometimes were 2 cute boys who'd grab you by the hips and kiss you on the lips. Both honestly sounded really gross to us and more funny then anything."

**
4. Melanie Niemann, 2015
"our version of that was slightly different.
"I don't wanna go to mexico no more more more
there's a big fat policeman at the door door door
he'll grab you by the collar and make you pay a dollar
I don't wanna go to mexico no more more more
shame!

But I wanna go to mexico some more more more
there's a really cute guy at the door door door
he'll grab you by the hips, and kiss you on the lips
oh I want to go to mexico some more more more
shame!"

**
5. _DontFeedTheOtaku _, 2015
"the one i heard was changed to Disney world " i don't wanna go to Disney world no more more more!
There's a creepy costumed princess at my door door door!
she grabbed me by the neck made me write a check!
i don't wanna go to Disney world no more more more!
SHAME smack in the face"

**
6. Excess Sleeper, 2015
"+_DontFeedTheOtaku _ Whoa dude, that's dark"

**
Reply
7. _DontFeedTheOtaku _, 2015
"+Tiana Buchanan I know right?! WE WERE 6!!"

**
8. Evan F, 2015
"For the Mexico one after the rhyme we'd shout "SHAME!" and whoever said it first got to push the other's forehead back with two fingers."

**
9. Rachel Rea, 2015
"The one my school sang was:
"Shame, shame, shame,
I don't wanna go to Mexico
No more, more, more
There's a big fat police man
at the door, door, door
He'll grab you by the hips
Kiss you on the lips
I don't want to go to Mexico
No more, more, more"
And then we would say shame on you before the other person."

**
10. Sierra Gale, 2015
"My favorite was
Chain chain chain
I don't wanna go to mexico no more more more
There's a big fat policeman at my door door door
He grabbed me by the hips
And kissed me on the lips
I don't wanna go to mexico no mo"

**
11. Lynn Abrams, 2015
"we have one at my school that goes

idont wanna go to mexico
no more more more
there is this really tall guy at the door door door
he'll grab you by the hips
kiss you on the lips
i dont wannna go to mexico
no more more more
(then you try to see who can slap the other on the forehead faster and say shame)"

12. Talia Smid, 2015
"Chang chang chang
I don't want go go to Mexico no more more more
There's a big fat policeman at the door door door
Grab you by the collar. Make you pay a dollar
I don't want to go to Mexico no more more more

re more more
vicious race to say CHAIN first"

**
JadeOmega, 2016
"#1: I don't want to go to mexico no more more more there's a big fat policeman at the door door door if he pulls you by the collar, girl you better hollar I don't want to go to mexico no more more more SHUT THE DOOR"

****
Excerpt #6
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55TnrD5re5g
Marel Smietana, 2015
"I played this:
I don't want to go to Mexico no more, more, more
There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door
He grabbed me by the collar
Made me pay a dollar
I don't want to go to Mexico no more, more, more SHAME
(whoever yelled SHAME and hit the other player's head first won)"

****
Excerpt #7 [added 9/5/2017]
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KL0LNtitYM
Love10n, 2016
"I think the one I learned was Shame I dont wanna go to mexico no more mroe more, theres creepy boys at my door. They grab you by the hips, Then kiss you on the lips. Shame shame shame.
Er, thats all I remember, been a LONG time sense i've done it!"

**
Breanna Buchanan, 2016
"what about the one shame shame shame I don't won't to go to mexico no more more more there's a big policeman stand at my door door door he grabbed me by my hips and made me miss his lips I don't won't to go to mexico no more more more"

*****
SHOWCASE YOUTUBE EXAMPLES
Example #1: Shame Shame Shame (hand game)



The Jervlons, Published on Jul 29, 2010

Here Irene and her Dad demonstrate how to do the hand game (simple version) known as "Shame Shame Shame" or "I Don't Want to Go to Mexico."
-snip-
The summary indicates that the written directions for this hand clap are given on the website whose link is provided, but that website doesn't have those directions [at least as of 9/4/2017]

Notice that the introductory hand slap or hand clap is different from the actual hand clapping pattern that is used for the rhyme. That hand clapping routine usually has the distinctive over/under pattern that is shown in this video and in the video given below as Example #2.
****

Example #2: SHAME HAND GAME - MEXICO | TI&NAISH



CanadianQueen76, Published on Jun 30, 2013

SHAME lyrics:
SHAME - SHAME - SHAME
I don't want to go to Mexico
no MORE - MORE - MORE

There's a big fat police man at the
DOOR - DOOR - DOOR
He will hang you by the collar
make you pay a dollar
I don't want to go to Mexico
no MORE - MORE - MORE
SHAME

****
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

4 comments:

  1. I wonder if parental concerns or children's concerns that the words "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" could be interpreted to be anti-Mexican-even if that rhyme really did not [or does not] have that meaning is at least partly why there are alternative titles for that rhyme such as "I Don't Want To Go To Hollywood" or "I Don't Want To Go To School".

    Those alternative titles aren't folk etymology since those substitute words - "Hollywood" and "school" couldn't have been misunderstood for the word "Mexico" which is probably what happened when "Mexico" replaced the original word "Macys" in those rhymes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I try to avoid politics in these pancocojams post, but if there was ever any doubt about my position, I strongly support DACA
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deferred_Action_for_Childhood_Arrivals and I believe that it's waaaay beyond shameful that Trump is proposing to end this program which protects law abiding people who came to the United States as babies and young children.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have a slight memory of another variant, with instead of collar and dollar, it’s shirt and eat some dirt. Don’t think it was ‘Mexico’ either, but rather a southwestern US state like Texas or something

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing that example, George Thomas.

    I'm now on the look out for the variant that you've alluded to. If I find a rhyme like that, I'll share it here.

    ReplyDelete