The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100653   Message #3052355
Posted By: GUEST,Azizi
13-Dec-10 - 07:23 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
Greetings, Guest Patty & Guest guest Date: 12 Dec 10.

I have just read your posts to this thread & want to thank you for your comments & examples.

Patty, it is indeed possible that your son may be mis-remembering the words "down down" as "brown brown". But it's also possible that other children-besides he-have accidently (or on purpose) substituted those words in this rhyme. If this substitution is accidental, then that would be a form of folk etymology. Those reciting this rhyme or hearing it recited that way could certainly have thought that "brown brown baby" makes more sense than "down down baby" (although "brown by the rollercoaster doesn't make as much sense as "down by the roller coaster"). What makes this possible folk etymology even more interesting to me (and perhaps to others) is that (as I conclude from your comments) a good portion of the children who may be reciting "brown brown baby" are Black (African American). There are number of sociological implications to African American children-and non African American children- chanting "brown brown baby" instead of "down down baby" in a neutral or at least non-negative way, regardless of whether this substitution is accidental or purposely done. Again thank you for sharing your son's recitation (and possibly other experiences) with that substitution on this forum.

Guest, guest, with regard to your ending comment, I believe that children's playground rhymes often reflect the mores of the society in which children live, move, and have their being. Therefore, girls who recite rhymes with racial content are probably just echoing what they have absorbed from society in myriad (often unconscious) ways.

Unfortunately, it was (and to a large extent still is) the norm for children to believe that race/ethnicity (and gender) limits who they will be involved with romantically. And unfortunately, confrontational attitudes toward other races/ethnicities are all too frequently still the norm in the USA and elsewhere. In my opinion, the fact that you, and I (and I'm certain others) recognize this, regret it, and challenge this as a norm, is a hopeful sign.


For various reasons, with two exceptions, I haven't posted on Mudcat for almost a year. I don't intend to post on this forum again.

As per my agreement with Max, the founder of Mudcat, I have reposted guest guest's example (along with the comment I've written above) on the handclap rhymes page of my Cocojams website. And throughout this year, I've periodically reposted other rhyme examples from guests on that page or on other children's rhymes pages of my Cocojams website. I intend to continue to do so periodically. Along with those examples I post hyperlinks to the specific Mudcat thread from which these examples come.

I continue to consider Mudcat an excellent source for multiple examples of and for information about specific children's rhymes and certain other songs from folk traditions. For that reason, I continue to provide links to Mudcat and encourage Cocojams readers (and readers of my other website Jambalayah) to visit Mudcat.

My heartfelt thanks to those members & guests who have posted to or will post to this thread and/or to other children's rhymes threads that I have started on Mudcat. Best wishes,

Ms. Azizi Powell, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA