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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Children's Recreational Rhymes That Include "Colored", "Black", Or Some Other Racial Referent For Black Americans

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents a compilation of children's recreational rhymes* that includes the words "Colored" (and a folk processed form "Color), "Black", or "Brown" as referents for Black people.

This post also includes my Editorial notes about the use of racial referents in recreational rhymes. Read my comments about the words "the spades go" in this post's comment section below.  

The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. 

*Recreational rhymes are also known as "playground rhymes" and as "street rhymes" to differentiate them from children's "nursery rhymes" ("Mother Goose rhymes"). 

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Click these following links for closely related pancocojams posts:

Racialized Versions Of "I Like Coffee I Like Tea"
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/racialized-versions-of-i-like-coffee-i.html

Selected Examples Of Referents For Black People In Children's Rhymes:
https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/06/selected-examples-of-referents-for.html 

**
Examples Of & Comments About The Children's Rhyme "I Like Coffee, I Like Tea, I Like Sitting On A Black Man's Knee"
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2018/01/examples-of-comments-about-childrens.html

**
Racialized Versions Of "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" Rhymes That Include The Words "I Like A White Boy & He Likes Me / So Step Back Black Boy..."
https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2021/03/racialized-versions-of-i-like-coffee-i.html

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PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTES
This post doesn't purport to include every examples of recreational rhymes that includes one of these racial referents. This post also doesn't include an example from specific "families" ('titles") of  children's rhymes that include one of these racial referents.

This post doesn't include any examples of rhymes that include what is now commonly known as "the n word".  

This compilation also doesn't include children's singing games such as "Brown Girl In The Ring". Furthermore, this compilation doesn't include examples of recreational rhymes in which "black" is used as an adjective (for example: "black power" or "black hands".)  

Brief editorial comments may be included after some examples. However, for more expanded comments, please visit the pancocojams posts whose links are given above. 

Most of the rhymes that include the referents that are the focus of this post also include the racial referent "White".

These examples are given in alphabetical order based on the rhyme's title. (Note that the examples that include "I like coffee I like tea"verses are given under the name of the rhyme that they are combined with.  

Numbers are given for referencing purposes only. The racial referent that is the focus of this post is given in italics when it is first used in that particular example..

Although my preference is to capitalize the racial referents "Black" and "White", I've used the lower case "b" for "black man" as that is how that referent is found in the examples I am quoting.

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EXAMPLES OF SOME CHILDREN'S RECREATIONAL RHYMES THAT INCLUDE CERTAIN RACIAL REFERENTS FOR BLACK PEOPLE

I."Ah Beep Beep
Walkin down the street
Ugawa. Ugawa
That means Black power.
White boy.
Destroy.
I said it. I meant it
And I'm here to represent it.
Soul sister number 9
Sock it to me one more time.
Uh hun! Uh Hun!
-Tracy S.,(African American female); Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; childhood remembrance, 1968 ; collected by Azizi Powell, 2000 {in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania} 
-snip-
"Soul sister" is a referent for a Black female. "Soul brother" is the comparable referent for Blak males. "Number 9" is a referent for something that is superlative.

****
II, 
DO YOU LIKE COFFEE DO YOU LIKE TEA 
1. "Can you say tea-pot backwards?’ (The person says “pot tea” and you say you know he is)

“Do you feel like a cup of tea??” ‘Yes’. ‘You look like one”.

'Are you soft?’ ‘No’. ‘Are you daft? ‘ ‘No’. Are you far off of it?’ ‘No.’ (You say, ‘I thought not”.)

This last is almost one of those triple-question tricks in which the person is led to expect that the answer given to the first two questions will also do for the third:

Do you like apples?
Do you like pears?
Do you like tumbling
down the stairs?

Or,
Do you like white
Do you like pink?
Do you like falling
down the sink?

Possibly the rhyming aids the delusion, for these formulas are highly popular, particularly with very young children who have just started school. Our daughter, for example, was five years old when she came home with:
Do you like coffee ?
Do you like tea ?
Do you like sitting on a blackman's knee ?"...
-
Iona Archibald Opie, ‎Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, [first published in 1959, page 65]. This portion is given in the section entitled “Guile”.
-snip-
Few analysis of children's recreational rhymes that I've read consider that this rhyme and some other children's recreational rhymes might have different meanings for Black children than they do for White children. Although we [Black people] teach our children that they shouldn't sit on any strange man's lap-unless he's the Santa Claus at a cultural event during the Christmas season- for the most part, sitting on the knee of a Black man who is known to a Black child doesn’t have the same risque, sexualized, and scary connotations that it had in the past and probably still have in the 2000s for White children and other non-Black children.

**
2. "A
nother playground one round my way was

"Do you like coffee?
Do you like tea?
Do you like sitting on a black man's knee?"

There was one black kid in my class when I was eight (1974) and our teacher would regularly mock-glower at him and say "Don't you give me those black looks, boy" in a weird Windsor Davies-type voice, to the poor kid's obvious embarrassment. It was very funny for the rest of us at the time, though."
-Sexton Brackets, Reply #125 on: June 13, 2013, https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=36600.120 Topic: When did you first encounter racism?

****
III.
DOWN DOWN BABY ("I like coffee, I like tea" verse)

1. 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 (Latinx/ African American neighborhood in the 1980s; cocojams.com [cocojams was the name of my cultural website that was active from 2001 to 2014).
-snip-
"Colored" is a referent for Black Americans which was no longer considered acceptable by at least 1970. In the United States the referent "Colored" is considered old fashioned and offensive.
 
"The early 1970s or mid 1970s" are the earliest dates that I've come across for these types of racialized "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" rhymes. That date come from an anonymous Guest who posted on Oct. 9. 2010 to a 2007 Mudcat discussion thread that I started entitled Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes: https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653

That commenter wrote "Thank you so much for posting this!!! I went to an all black elementary school in Norfolk, VA in the early to mid 70's and we used the variation you described (shown below).

[quoting me] "The confrontational action in these verses follows a consistent pattern. First, these rhymes are almost always given from a female perspective {which makes sense since the person or persons reciting these rhymes are usually girls}. Secondly, in the rhyme, a Black {or "Colored"} girl rejects the advances of a White boy. Thirdly, the girl tells the White boy that she "likes a Black boy and he likes me". And fourthly {if there is such a word}, the girl threatens to get a Black {or "Colored"} boy to "beat his {the White boy's} behind"...
-snip-
This Guest also quotes me as saying that I hadn't come across any examples of this rhyme in which White people begin the confrontation (i.e "I like a White boy and he likes me, so step back Black boy etc.). However, since I wrote that comment in 2010 I have come across some examples like that (as given in #2 and #5 immediately below and as featured in this pancocojams post: 
https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2021/03/racialized-versions-of-i-like-coffee-i.html

That said, the "I like a black boy and he likes me" examples that I've come across appear to be much more widely chanted than any other "I like a [racial referent] boy and he likes me" version of these rhymes.

**
2. "I always heard it as...

Down, down baby down down the rollercoaster
Sweet sweet baby, mama never let you go,
shimmy shimmy cocoa puff
shimmy shimmy pow
shimmy shimmy cocoa puff
shimmy shimmy wow
i like coffee, 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 kick your behind,
kick it rough, kick it tough, kick it till you get enough

I am VERY saddened that we said this in elementary school."
-GUEST,guest, 12 Dec 10, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653&threadid=100653, Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes, 

**
3. " down down baby down by the roller coaster sweet sweet baby mama never let you go if you wanna kiss me just say you love me shimmy shummy coa coa puff shimmy shimmy rah, shimmy shimmy coa coa puff shimmy shimmy rah. I like coffee I like tea. I like a black boy and he likes me so step back black boy you ain't shy I bet you 5 dollars I could beat your behind. Last night and the night before I met my boyfriend at the candy store. He bought me ice cream he bought me cake. He brought me home with a belly ache. I said momma momma I'm so sick. Call the doctor quick quick quick I said doctor doctor shall I die. He said close your eyes and count to 5 I said a12345 I'm alive on a channel 5 I said a678910 I'm dead on a channel 10 with a scooby dooby doo on channel 2. Frankenstein on channel 9. "


that's how me and my friends do it. I'm 14 so...I guess it's sort of there..."
-By Alana on Saturday, July 3, 2004 http://www.streetplay.com/discus/cgi-discus/show.cgi?75/77.html [This web page is no longer available.]

**
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 [This website is no longer available.]

**
5. "Down down baby down by the roller coaster
sweet sweet baby mama never let you go
if you wanna kiss me just say you love me

Shimmy shimmy coco pop shimmy shimmy pow
shimmy shimmy coco pop shimmy shimmy pow

I like a black boy and he likes me
so step back white boy I ain't shy
I bet you 5 dollars i'll beat yo behind

Last night and the night before
I met my boyfriend at the candy store
he brought me ice cream he brought me cake
he brought me home with a belly ache

I said momma momma i'm so sick
call the doctor quick quick quick!
I said doctor doctor shall i die
he said close your eyes and count to 5

I said ah 1 ah 2 ah 3 ah 4 ah 5...
i'm alive on channel 5
scooby dooby doo on channel 2
big fat lady on channel 80
and all the rest on channel 8"
-GUEST,Meme, 3 July 2014, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653&threadid=100653, Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes

**
6. "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 15, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653&threadid=100653, Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes

**
7. 
"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." The reason why I remember distinctly that they did it both ways was that as a little kid I tried to imagine what "you don't shine" meant. I'd try to reason what skin tone "shined" more! Needless to say, I never figured it out!"
-Guest Gibs, 05 Mar 09, 
 http://awe.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=115045&messages=154&page=2 ,RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme 
-snip-
Here's a portion of my March 5, 2009 response to Guest Gib (posted to that "Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme" thread)

..."Here's my take on that "you don't shine" phrase:

In this context, "shine" means to be as radiant as the sun or stars. Saying "you don't shine" to a boy means that you don't think that he is anything special (in looks, and/or in actions, or in his very being) as he or she thinks he is. Perhaps that use of "shine" comes from the outer (or inner glow) that people are said to have because of their auras or their spirit. Theoretically, the aura* of a good or great person shines brighter than that of a person who is evil or ordinary. And a charismatic person would be described as shining brightly."...

**
8. 
"I learned Version of Down Down Baby in virginia in the 90's

Down down baby, down by the rollercoaster
Sweet sweet baby, mama never let you go
Shimmy shimmy coca pop, shimmy shimmy pow!

I like coffee, I like tea,
I like a color boy and he likes me
So step back white boy, you don't shine
I'll get the color boy to beat yo' behind

Let get the rhythm of the hands (clap, clap)
We've got the rhythm of the hands (clap, clap)

Let's get the rhythm of the feet (stomp,stomp)
We've got the rhythm of the feet (stomp, stomp

Lets get the rhythm of the head DING-DONG

(move head side to side)

We've got the rhythm of the head DING-DONG (move head side to side)

Let's get the rhythm of the HOT-DOG

(move body around)

We've got the of the HOT-DOG

(move body around)

Put all together and and what do you get....
clap, clap, stomp, stomp, ding-dong, hot-dog

Say them all backwards and what do you get....

hot-dog, ding-dong, stomp, stomp, clap, clap!
-GUEST,Down Down baby, 30May 07,  https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63097 , Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?
-snip-
"Color" is a folk processed form of the racial referent "Colored"

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/08/playground-rhymes-that-include-names-of_30.html for an example of "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" in which the person chanting says that she likes the Jackson 5 so step back white boy you don't shine/I'ma get the Jackson 5 to beat your behind". The Jackson 5 was a highly popular African American R&B group that included Michael Jackson.

****
IV. 
I LIKE COFFEE I LIKE TEA (jump rope rhyme)

 1. " 'Quote:
Originally Posted by sasbear 

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'
-end of quote-
as above then I want so and so in with me."
-snip-
“I want so and so in with me” meansI want [person’s name] to join me jumping rope."
-asher (female), May 9th 2007, http://britishexpats.com/forum/barbie-92/playground-songs-448434/page3/
-snip-
This rhyme is also given in the Opie's 1959 book that is referenced above.

**
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 [I can no longer access this website.]

 

**
3..."
Did you play this one? You'd need a big group, and a big rope with two enders, or one ender (nobody wanted to be an ender) and then you'd tie the other end to a drainpipe. Anyway on 'Bluebells, cockle shells' the rope would be swayed, not turned all the way over until the word 'over' in the rhyme. At this the next girl, it was always a girl (and there was only Barry Morgan in our school who could skip I may be wrong here) would run into the rope. She'd sing;

 

I like coffee I like tea
I like Sheila in with me


And then Sheila would jump in and you'd both skip together and spell out her name as you jumped. But sometimes, and this would be around 1970 in London, I can remember singing;

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


Which seems completely shocking today - although we didn't think about it then - and did I think I was skipping about my Dad? Not at all, this was the same mythical black man who famously got caught by his toe, best mates, no doubt with the man from China who was forever doing up his flies. Skipping rhymes were always odd and sometimes rude and sometimes completely scatological. Can I just say I am glad those days are gone? I never felt these rhymes were a sign of any kind of innocence."...
-Catherine Johnson, http://the-history-girls.blogspot.com/2015/05/bluebells-cockleshells-catherine-johnson.html , 14 May 2015
-snip-
The portion of this page that caught my attention was when Catherine Johnson wrote
sometimes, his would be around 1970 in London, I can remember singing;

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

Did I think I was skipping about my dad? Not at all" ...:
-snip-
Here's information from Catherine Johnson's Wikipedia page that explains those sentences: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Johnson_(novelist)
"Catherine Johnson FRSL (born 1962) is a British author and screenwriter. She has written several young adult novels and co-wrote the screenplay for the 2004 drama film Bullet Boy (directed by and co-written with Saul Dibb).[1]

Background and career

Catherine Johnson was born in London, England, in 1962. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was Welsh."...
-snip-
Read my note after the "Do You Like Coffee Do You Like Tea" rhyme about how Black children are likely to interprete certain rhymes differently than non-Black children because we weren't raised to view Black males as scary, inappropriate mates, and/or hyper sexual.

****
V.  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,editor, Shimmy Shimmy Coke-Ca-Pop!, A Collection of City Children's Street Games & Rhymes (Garden City, New York, Double Day & Co; 1973, page 57)
-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 within a particular neighborhood..

****

VI. INA LINA THUMBELINA ("I like coffee I like tea" verse) 

"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 DONT SHINE IGOTTA A BLACK/WHITE BOY TO KICK YOUR BEHIND SEE THAT HOUSE ON TOP OF THAT HILL THATS WHERE ME AND MY BABY GNNA LEAVE WE GNNA CHOP SOME WOOD EAT SOME MEAT COME ON BABT LETS GO TO SLEEP"
-GUEST,17yr old kid at heart:), 20 Jul 10, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4300, Children's Street Songs

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VII. 
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
-snip-
An example of this rhyme is performed by the Pointer Sisters as an introduction to their rendition of the song "Wang Dang Doodle" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G6a6bIrmg8 ; published by SafariCreations on May 22, 2009 

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VIII. MISS SUZIE HAD A STEAMBOAT

1. "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
Where she did the Hoola Dance!
-snip-
I reformatted this example to separate its strung together verses.

**
2. "
Miss Suzy had a steamboat
The steamboat had a bell
Miss Suzy went to heaven
The steamboat went to-
Hello operator
Give me number nine
If you disconnect me
I'll kick your big be-
'Hind the 'frigerator
There was a piece of glass
Miss Suzy fell upon it
And cut her big old-
Ask me no more questions
Give me no more lies
The boys are in the restroom
zipping up their-
Flies are in the meadow
The bees are in the park
Miss Suzy and her boyfriend
Are kissing in the D. A. R. K.
D-A-R-K. D-A-R-K.
Dark Dark Dark Dark
Darker than the ocean
Darker than the sea
Darker than the black boy
That peed all over me!
-Jim, http://inky.50megs.com/idlechild/songs/hellooperator.htm
-snip-
Here's a comment from a woman who shared an example of "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" that mentioned "darker than the black bird" that chasing after me":
"Perhaps more often, the “black bird” is instead a “black boy,” which I only heard sung once as a child (by a white girl, to my shock). I’m guessing the “black boy” version precedes the race-neutral one I remember."
-SAHMURAI, April 18, 2016, https://sahmurai.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/miss-susie-a-hand-clapping-history/  Miss Susie: A hand-clapping history

****
iX. 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 

****
X. I DON'T WANNA GO TO MEXICO
"i got one:
i dont wanna go to mexico no more more more
theres a big black policeman at the door door door
he’ll kiss you on the lips he’ll make you do the splits
i dont wanna go to mexico no more more more

then you try to say, shame on you! before your friend (partner) does.
-beth, May 19, 2013, http://losemyway.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/hand-clapping-games/

****
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2 comments:

  1. Here's a portion of my editor's notes to a 2012 pancocojams post entitled The REAL Meanings Of "The Spades Go" & "The Space Go" In Playground Rhymes
    ...it's my position that when used in children's rhymes, the "spades go", 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.

    This was/is partly because 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.

    I further believe that the phrase "the spades go" predates the phrase "the space goes". I think that "the space goes" is probably a folk etymology form of "the spades go". And I think that "the space goes" was probably made up because "the spades go" was misheard or mis-remembered and not because children thought there was anything socially wrong with saying "the spades go".

    Here's one example of the use of "the space go" in a children's rhyme:
    The spades go eenie meenie pop-si-keenie ooh aah ogg-a-lini achi-pachi liver-achi say the magic words, a peach, a plum, a half a stick of chewing gum and if you want the other half this is what u say: amen amen a-man-di-ego san-diego hocus pocus ala-mocus, sis, sis, sis-coom-bah, montana montana rah rah rah, boo boo boo, 1-2, i hate you, criss-cross applesauce, do me a favor and get lost, while ur at it drop dead, then come back with no head.

    haha it was a hand game we played at recess...
    - Brandy (Post #360); http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2204285338&topic=2724&post=25803#topic_top,October 08, 2006

    Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-real-meaning-of-spades-go-space-go.html to read that entire pancocojams post.

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  2. Here's a link to another pancocojams post about "the spades go" in children's recreational rhymes:

    http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2020/10/examples-of-childrens-rhyme-two-lips.html

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