The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100653   Message #2021524
Posted By: Azizi
10-Apr-07 - 01:55 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: Down Down Baby-Race in Kid's Rhymes
Opps, that last rhyme should be labeled Version #8

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As to my opinions about these rhymes, it seems to me that with regards to childrens rhymes, children are much more interested in the rhythm of the words than the meaning of the words themselves. It certainly appears as though children care whether 'the right words' are recited-"right" here meaning the words to that particular rhyme that they learned and which are recited in their neighborhood. If a child recites the rhyme a different way, others will say that she or he "messed" up. So it certainly appears as though children are conscious of the words they are are reciting.

However, I don't think this means that children are concerned about what the words 'mean'. I don't think children think about rhymes as a story with characters and plots and actions.

The rhyme's story is actually quite common-a boy approaches a girl and asks her for a date. The boy is rebuffed by the girl who says she already has a boyfriend. The story could have ended there. But this rhyme adds the element of the boy being identified as White, and there is [at least in my mind] the assumption that the girl is Black {or non-White]. Furthermore, the girl takes exception to the boy asking her for a date. She tells him that she already has a boyfriend who {it can be assumed} is of the same race as the girl. Furthermore, the girl threatens to get her boyfriend {and/or other boys of her race} to beat up the White boy.

How much of this do children 'get' by osmosis, or by repetition, or otherwise? Are we not seeing a rise in interracial schooling in the United States? Isn't interracial dating and interracial marriage on the increase in the USA? These rhymes are certainly anti-interracial dating. Also, these rhymes appear to give a stamp of approval to fighting.

Perhaps the changes in these rhymes came about when schools were just being integrated. As such, the aggression and reference to race in these rhymes reflect the difficulties associated with those particular times. Perhaps times have changed and the interracial relations between students of different races have improved. Maybe the words to these rhymes have become so familiar and so ingrained that no changes have been made, or any changes that were suggested did not 'stick'.

Still, I'm very concerned about the normalization of in-group/out group perceptions and interactions where the only acceptable interaction between people of other races is fighting.

If our cultures do not address these perceptions among children of race=different=unacceptable, how will we ever have a world where differences don't make any difference, a race or ethnicity is a descriptor that has no positive or negative valuation?