Mudcat Café message #2090493 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #102055   Message #2090493
Posted By: Azizi
29-Jun-07 - 07:44 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives
Subject: RE: Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives
There is no tellin why some children's rhymes change the way they do.

Take the first example posted by GUEST,Natasha Woods. The "I like coffee, I like tea" verse dates back at least as far as the 1920s. This line is included in an example entitled "Vinie" that is found in Thomas W. Talley's 1922 collection "Negro Folk Rhymes". In that   book that verse is given as

"I loves coffee, an' I loves tea.
I axes you, Vinie, does you love me?"

["Negro Folk Rhymes", Kennikat Press edition, 1968 p. 130]


By the 1950s, this verse was chanted while jumping rope. The standard words to the rhyme were:
I like {or "love"} coffee
I like tea
I like {insert a boy's name}
and he likes me

{or "I like the boys/and the boys like me"}

Another form of this rhyme was:
I like {love} coffee
I like tea
I want {a boy or a girl's name}
to jump in with me {meaning to jump in the rope along with the another person}

But at some point, this verse became a handclap/imitative movement rhyme. The most widely printed version of this form of this rhyme is "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" {or puff, or pop or some similar sounding name. Guest Natasha Woods' example-excluding that 2nd verse-is the "standard" version of this rhyme.

However, for some reason or reasons, by the late 1980s, racial confrontational lines had become a standard part of many examples of this rhyme.

Natasha Woods gives this standardized racial confrontational verse as her 2nd verse. These words are found-in the same way-in examples that I've collected as a result of direct interactions with African American school age girls, female teens, and adult women, AND from examples posted on various Internet websites [including Mudcat]. The only slight differences is that the person speaking [a Black girl?] either says " I like a black boy" or "I like a colored boy" or "I like a color boy". "Color boy" here is probably a result of folk etymology since the referent "colored" is not used any more, and probably is not a term that children know.

One example that I collected from the Internet has the speaker {presumably a girl saying "step back white girl/you don't shine/ I'mma get a Black boy to beat your behind". However, this change in gender may be due to folk etymology. I've also collected an example that says "I love a pretty boy and he loves me" and then continues with the other "fixed" wording. I believe that there are probably more folk process changes like that. But where did this confrontational racial referent verse come from and why?

I believe that the "I Love Coffee. I Love Tea" rhyme has its roots in African American communities. I also believe that the racial confronational verse is also of African American origin. What is interesting to me is that this children's rhyme is among the few African American "contemporary" rhymes that I have collected that almost always mention race.

It's my position that this addition to this originally non-confrontative rhyme is the result of and reflect racial tensions that occurred because of school integrations {and perhaps less likely, the integration of neighborhoods, and other social orbanizations that children of different races may frequent}.

And with regard to the lines "step back white boy/you don't shine", it's my position that "shine" is related to "glowing brightly". Therefore, in the context of this rhyme it means that the boy in question is not "all that" or "is no big deal" [substitute the latest putdown slang lingo]. I definitely don't think that 'shine" here is the same as "Shine", the colloquial and sometimes perjorative referent for Black people.

So, Guest Natasha Woods, that's my sense of what's up with this rhyme. I'd love to hear from other folks as to what they think is up with it.