Mudcat Café message #1922159 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #81350   Message #1922159
Posted By: Azizi
30-Dec-06 - 09:37 AM
Thread Name: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Since we have entered into a discussion of the use of racial referents in children's rhymes, let me take this opportunity to say that as a result of my collection efforts for at least the last ten years, it appears to me that there are very few overt references to race in Black children's rhymes.

However, here's an example of one taunting rhyme that does mention race:

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.

[Source: 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-

This rhyme is included as in the jump rope section of that book. However, perhaps because of the demise of the outdoor clothes line, which-I believe has had a negative impact on the frequency which which children jump rope-it appears to me that quite a few children's jump rope rhymes have become handclap rhymes...

Like many other children's rhymes, "I'll Be" [to give a title to the above rhyme {no title is given in that book]is composed by stringing together a number of floating verses. These floating verses can also stand alone. In my opinion, this rhyme can be divided into floaters/independent lines as follows:

I'll be. be
Walking down the street,
Ten times a week.
**
Un-gawa. Un-gawa {baby}
This is my power.
**
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.

-snip-

I've collected other examples of American [USA] children's rhymes that separately contain most of these lines, including the "Ugawa" line. That line is lifted from a Black power saying from the late 1960s-"Ungawa, Black power!". I've also collected a couple of folk etymology reproductions of this line such as found in this excerpt of a longer "Down Down Baby/Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" rhyme:

"OOOH Johny,
Walkin down the street,
Ten Times a week,
I met it I said it
I stole my momma credit,
I'm cool,
I'm Hot,
Sock me in the stomach one more time..."
-Ashley at August 10, 2003 http://blog.oftheoctopuses.com/000518.php

I think that "Castle Square Black" is probably a referent to a neighborhood or possibly a resident of a housing development, but unfortunately that book gives no clue to which American city these rhymes come from.

**

As you can see, I'm fully in my analysis mode...It must be the Virgo in me.

;0)