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I Don’t Wanna Go To Mexico No More More More: Black Girls & Handgames

• Aug 31, 2011

From Clutch Magazine: You and your girlfriends stand in a circle, there’s always someone who starts to clap first.

Clap, stomp, cheer. You are 11, 12, still too young for fake nails, but definitely had a perm or two.

Jig. A looooowww. Clap.

Jig. Jig a looooowwww. Stomp.

Jig. A loooooowwww. Jig jig a loooowww.

It’s your turn. You’re ready! You do your best dance and everybody has to do what you do. It’s fun!

It’s a pasttime! But is it more?

Jessica Solomon and her team at Girl Griots: The Handgame Society not only remember those old cheers at the playground but are challenging black women everywhere to bring them back!

The website is in its infant stages calls people to submit audio, video and even text of cheers they used to play, Ms. Mary Mack, Telephone, Rockin Robin.

It’s important that black women and women of color who are gatekeepers and of position to tell their stories. That would be like the tipping point. It’s a common thread we don’t talk about because we grow up and we put childish things away but the fact that I know those games, says something,” says Solomon, 28.

While jig a low gives even the shyest young girl a chance to be a leader, other cheers like rockin robin’s lyrics give DC-based Solomon reason for pause. “Mama in the kitchen cookin rice/ father downstairs shooting dice/ brother in jail raising hell…” lead to questions about how it affects the pysche of young girls who are the women we are today.

It affirms that those words, those chants those experiences with my friends were important enough that I carry it with me and can draw from them. Yes, we can create words and language that helps us to create something else because words matter. That’s what we wanna explore to there’s power in what we say.”

I thought this article was so sweet! And I love the accompanying photos. Ladies, do you remember hand games from your youth?
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32 Comments on "I Don’t Wanna Go To Mexico No More More More: Black Girls & Handgames"

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O’ the memories.….. Little black girls,their chants, and their cheers. Some I was forbidden to do such as rockin robin.

Lacoya (thesupercoya)

Obviously, whomever taught me the lyrics replaced “raising hell” with “eating taco bell”. LOL The power of change. 🙂

and the rest is “Sister outside eating fruit cocktail” LOL Wonder if that’s right, too? Hmmmmm…


I remember something about the Sister ‘shaking her tail”!


Sister on the corner selling fruit ( hands on your flat chest), cock ( hands on privates) tail (hands on your bottom) Oh my! LOL.


I wish I could confirm that the version I learned was as cleaned up as the versions y’all learned. When I was little, that part of it went:
“Brother in jail raising hell, Sister on the corner holler “p—y for sale!”

As a PK, I could have never gotten away with that! Somebody cleaned it up, and it changed to:
“Brother in jail raising sand, Sister on the corner with sump’n in her hand.”


I knew it as sister was “selling” fruit cocktail… LOL


LOL! I was thinking the same thing, except I was taught raising bail, which made sense to me.…still does!


Me and my sister used to play hand games as children all. The. Time! ^_^

Never thought about that Rockin Robin lyrics though till now though ?_?


WOWWWW you took it way back.. Do children even play games like this anymore? I mean do they go outside and have any activities? All I am used to seeing is the $300 hand held games that a lot of parents break their pockets to get them> Why…because this is the norm in society; hense obesity and no regard for money and or life in of itself~~


I don’t know if this is necessarily the norm, but at least at my school I still see the little girls playing hand games.


I remember Mary Mac Mac Mac, all dressed in black black black etc etc. Most of these games were played with a skipping rope at my school or jump rope for you ladies.


Aw, I remember all of them! My little sister is 8 and she knows nothing about the hand games and she says she never sees anyone playing.I grew up going to DC public schools and it was very popular. However, it sucks that the hand games slowly evolved to a group of girls making beats and popping their booties under the slide by the time we reached 5th grade. smh lol. I think (age appropriate) hand games are a good social tool for young girls. It’s one way I made friends.


I agree, excellent bonding tool for girls.:)


Oh and to add on- is it a coincidence that a good number of the main perpetrators of the booty popping have kids at least 2 years old? We’re all like 19 and 20 now. -_____-


Wow!!! thanks for taking me waaaaay back! Those were some fun times I had with my little motley crew 🙂 Back in the 70’s and early 80’s we had sweet nice one’s and not so nice one’s–ex(*insert name* think she bad y’all…)In fact, grandma would poke her head through the window to see if we were doing a little too much hip swinging and lip smacking, ha.…memories.

By the way BGLH, the pic for this post is art house worthy!! Beautiful!

I have wanted someone to compile these for a long time. Little black girls have a unique set of hand-games and cheers and I hope we are able preserve these. Some that I remember are Down, down baby, down by the roller coaster; hollywood go swingin’ (each girl had a chance to do a little solo dance on this one); down by the river with the hanky-panky (don’t remember all the words, but this is one where you would sit in a circle and slap hands till the end of the song — and then if you hand was slapped… Read more »

Man that took me back, I hadn’t thought of Down by the river in forever. I grew up in GA and this was one of my favorite ones. Rockin Robin ws hard, we could never get a good group of girls to make the 4-way work.


oh yeah and you had to get that 4 girl version just right. “am I going to the left first or to the right? Are we going up top first or we going to the bottom?” You would start over a few times just to the rhythm and directions right. Ha, good times.


My cousin just mentioned (via facebook) that her littl one (6 yrs old) just discovered hand games. All the replies were women reminiscing about their favorite hand games.

Mine was “slide”. Giiiirrrrl, your hands would be tingling after you were done. Well, they would be if you were good and you reached a high number. That was my ish back in the day.

Also, “Bo Bo see ot and toten…” (I have no idea how you spell this really, but it is the best I could do, lol.


So true about hands hurting after slide. ESPECIALLY if your partner was wearing a ring or something lol.


I was just wondering the other day (having no kids of my own) if little girls still did this at recess ( or wherever). Glad to know its still around ( and making a comeback!) 🙂

“Two Chinese sittin on a bench tryna make a dollar outta seventy five cents. They missed they missed they missed like this.… I don’t wanna go to Mexico no more more more theres a big fat policeman at the door door door… Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny, Opps ah tumbalini, Achi cachi Liberace, I love you, Take a peach, Take a plum, Take a stick of bubble gum, No peach No plumb No stick of bubble gum Saw you with your boyfriend last night How’d you know I was peaking through the key hole Miss Susie …behind the refrigerator there was a… Read more »

Your “Eenie Meenie” had a more gruesome ending, the way I learned it:

Eenie meenie dissalini
Ooh ahh unbalini
Achi cachi Liberachi
I love you!
“Saw you with your boyfriend last night!”
“How do you know?”
“Peeped through the keyhole, Nosey!
Gimme some candy, Stingy!
Wash those dishes, Lazy!
Jump out the window, Crazy!”
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her gingerbread, choo, choo!
Along came a choo-choo
And knocked her in the boo-boo,
And now Miss Muffet’s dead, choo-choo!

As you say, quite inappropriate :-/. But we sang and chanted, stomped and clapped, slapped each other’s hands, danced, and shimmied, and thought nothing of any of it, only that we were having fun.

ATTENTION EVERYONE !! Please go to Amazon & check out…better still BUY this book by Bessie Jones called “STEP IT DOWN” Look down the page to an audio CD called PUT YOUR HAND ON YOUR HIP & LET YOUR BACKBONE SLIP. Click on it & it takes you to a product description complete with RECORDED SAMPLES you can listen to!! Both the book & CD are compilations of songs,chants,stories & games from the Afro American experience. I saw some I used to do when I was little. I have the book & the CD & they’re terrific! If you… Read more »

I read the comments on the Clutch site, and there were memories for a ton of handgames, some of which I’d never heard before. There were also some that I do remember that got no mention. Pretty Little Dutch Girl, The Crazy Old Man From China, Head Shoulders, those were some of my favorites.

As for Miss Mary Mack, the number of responders who didn’t mention it were in the low minority :-). Apparently, that’s practically a tradition, so many people knew it, and loved it.

This is wonderful brings back great memories of running and jumping. Well the rockin robin we sang sister wasn’t selling no dang on fruit cocktail. It was dirty it went like this- Mama in the kitchen burnin that rice, daddy on the corner shootin dice, brother in jail risin Hell sister on the corner holla @**** for sale. I laugh just thinking about how we would pause put our hands on our hips and go um um for sale. There was one sing song one everybody started with“Yo momma don’t wear no draws,I saw her when she took hem off… Read more »

Oh yes, I remember those days. My 6 year old son went to a boys and girls club over the summer and had the nerve to tell me that the way I was singing some hand games was wrong and that he knew the correct words. I was like, little boy, I grew up on these songs before you was born:-)

Rockin Robbin did have some dirty but interesting lyrics. I remember “Slide”, Miss Mary Mack, Miss Suzie, Quack a dilly, I don’t want to go to mexico, Jig a lo, “H-E-L-L-0, hello hello,” Wow, the memories.


lol…I Love this article…the girls in my church dance group and I played “numbers” for about an hour during a bus trip to great Adventures, I tried to teach them the “new numbers” and they had one better for ME!! lol
Last week I heard my two god-daughters, ages 9 and 10 singing “telllll-a-phone..tell tell a phone”, hands on hips and sass in their necks and I was tickled pink!!!

Sherese Francis

A few months ago, I read a book by Kyra Gaunt, a Baruch professor, called “The Games Black Girls Play,” in which she talks about how black girls and handgames influenced Male dominated Black music, especially Hip-Hop. It is a very interesting read. I wrote a post about it on my blog:


I know this isn’t a hand game, but we used to get in a circle with one of us in the middle and sing…Little Sally Walker, sittin in a saucer, rise Sally rise. Wipe yo weepin eyes, put yo hands on yo hips and let yo backbone slip. Aww shake it to the east, shake it to the west, shake it to the one that you love the best!

You should try it for sure ! Hanky Panky is my loved underwear brand.

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