The magic of the game of black girls


The second line of this version of “eeny meeny” ends with what sounds like a nod to popular TV personality Liberace, an extravagant white and gay virtuoso classical pianist, but it actually masks a Black power chant. from the 1970s. “Atchi catchi liberatchi” is probably “education, liberation” hidden in a linguistic code. Considering the long history of black children’s communication stigma as evidence of widespread illiteracy, and this code flips that stigma on its ear.

Author Toni Morrison once wrote that “Black Americans have been sustained, healed, and nurtured by translating their experience into art, especially music.” The rhyming songs of the Dutch double and hand games are no different.

A 90s applause game:

Mom, mom can’t you see? {{1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1}
What baby did to me{{1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1}}
I took my MTV, {{1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1}}
Now I watch Baar-ney. {{1-2-3 1-2-3 1. }}

(A YouTube version of this song mixes the traditional melody of “Hush, Little Baby” and the hambone rhythm of Bo Diddley.)

Later in the song of the game, the tension between the daughters and their mums, who sarcastically, “you’re not grown up yet”, surfaces, allowing the girls to playfully express their impertinence without penalty. This play song playfully expresses their dissent on parenting punishments as black teenage girls look away from a children’s TV show (“Barney”) to embrace the supersexualized dream worlds of 1990’s MTV.

Games are a way for black girls to learn how social relationships are negotiated within the racialized and sexist map of American reality. Their musical playing is rooted in the diasporic African aesthetic of call and response, where tapping one’s body like a drum produces complex polyrhythmic musical textures. For a post-slave population once considered three-fifths human, for whom reading and writing were illegal or access to literacy was excluded, these games have helped African Americans survive anything but fun for them. girls and women.

In Dutch doubles, the girls learn to jump on the ropes or to choreograph duet or trio figures. As the turners at each end of the two twirling ropes observe the imperfections of those on the inside of the ropes, they adjust them to accommodate the locomotion of the jumpers’ body and pedaling feet. It is an inclusive structuring of the game; you might have to sit down when you mess up, but another round awaits you at the end of a line of girls who have followed.

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