You and your girlfriends stand in a circle, there’s always someone who starts to clap first.
Clap, stomp, cheer. Ya 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.”
What’s next for Girls Griot?
Solomon excites, “We just wanna take over recess! Just roll up on some girls with some dope games that say: I am beautiful! I am strong I can sing my song! Yes! All that! I wonder who I would be if I had games like that!”
To submit your handgame to Girl Griots or get more involved visit: girlgriots.tumblr.com.
Clutchettes — we would love to hear from you! What was the first hand game you played?