Yo' Mama, Mary Mack, and Boudreaux and ThibodeauxLouisiana Children's Folklore and Play

Yo' Mama, Mary Mack, and Boudreaux and ThibodeauxLouisiana Children's Folklore and Play

Jeanne Pitre Soileau

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9781496810403

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

“Yo’ Mama, Mary Mack, and Boudreaux and Thibodeaux” presents a forty-four year study of South Louisiana African American children’s performance lore, from the last third of the twentieth century to the first ten years of the twenty-first, beginning with the era of integration in New Orleans and ending with the age of computers and the internet. Using a set of simple questions like “What jokes do you tell?” and “Can you do a hand clap for me?” the author recorded the voices of African American children and their friends playing “dozens,” telling jokes, and performing verbally for each other. Over time the media influenced play, as movies, television, music videos, all provided powerful models for African American children and their schoolmates. Kung fu and break dancing became part of the play vocabulary. The music of Michael Jackson entered handclap chants, and his dance moves became schoolyard performances. The chapter “To Infinity and Beyond: Children’s Play in the Electronic Age” presents the children as conservators of traditional schoolyard games, while adding play on YouTube, Facebook, smartphones, Xboxes, video games, and more. In the lifetime of a person, the years three (the earliest years where verbal art is shared) to twelve (about seventh or eighth grade) are those in which children learn, share, and practice what is called “children’s folklore.” Shared child lore is a treasured outlet for artistic expression. Children learn rhyme, rhythm, public speaking, game rules, cultural expectations, and self-assurance through play shared with their peers.