Yesterday, Saturday, June 4, 1977, little brothers and sisters came
to Lincoln Center to show off their skills, the art of jumping rope
– not just a rope, but two ropes together. They call it Double
I have played football, baseball and basketball. I have even boxed a
little, but for coordination, rhythm, creativity, teamwork, discipline
and determination, Double Dutch surpasses them all.
It should be emphasized that it is not just running into the rope and
jumping, nor even the tricks they do once they are in the ropes, but
when the above mentioned occurs, certain rules have to be obeyed. Hands
must be kept at specified places. Rules regarding entry and departure
into and out of the ropes must be obeyed. There are rules regarding
a time and specific tricks and then there is free style. Here is where
you see creativity.
They don’t just jump into the rope, but they cartwheel in or jump
from the shoulders of one of the twirlers and leap over the back. Then
once in the ropes, they dance, clap, wave poms poms, exchange batons,
touch the ground, and go under legs of jumping partners and also legs
of twirlers. They go round and round, up and back, and in rhythm. They
don’t just run out of the ropes, they cartwheel out, and then
Now keep in mind there is a skill and discipline not just in the jumping,
but also in the turning. I watched the strain and agony and determination
in the faces of the turners, arms tired and heavy but urged on by the
jumpers – faster, faster, faster!
You see, in the speed contest, they are given two (2) minutes to jump.
A counter registers the left foot hitting the ground. Three hundred
is the magic mark – what a 4-minute mile used to be in track.
Two hundred ninety-eight is the record at this point. A little girl
named Tawana holds this record.
There is single speed and double speed and, oh, how the feet go up and
down, rhythmically, and steadily. One other point, the turners don’t
just stand there and turn, they turn two ropes; with one hand they exchange
ropes with the jumpers without missing a turn. It is poetry in motion,
Believe me; I am not exaggerating when I said this athletic endeavor
tops all others, at least the ones I have played. I should say these
tricks that defy description, are thought up or drawn up, by the girls
themselves. Each year they come back with something new.
While my wife and I stood in the hot sun for a number of hours watching,
clapping, waving and marveling, our hearts about to burst with pride,
I looked around at the innumerable white faces, some passing by, some
departing from conferences and shows or wherever. They stood on balconies
overlooking the water fountains, mesmerized by the creativity, movement
and coordination of the jumpers.
I kept sayings, “Oh you little ones, if you would just apply yourselves
to life’s pursuits you could have the world and everything that’s
in it. Your hours of practice, self-denials—jumping, jumping—when
friends were going other places and doing other things you were determined
to be the best—so you practiced, practiced, practiced. Your capacity
for teamwork, doing things with others, blending your skills and talents
and temperament into harmony with your teammates. Coordination and mastery
over your bodies, your mental alertness and concentration, emotional
serenity intensely gathered up into unified coordination of mind, body,
emotions, oh, yes—“soul.” The next time somebody asks
what is soul; I should say watch the Double Dutch jumpers go. There
it is baby—rhythm, music, conquest, mastery … what is soul?
Go watch the Double Dutch jumpers…
My daughter, Sharon’s team won second prize in one category and
was disappointed—which poses a problem. For the parents, “Do
you try to make children content with second prize, talk to them about
how they play the game is what’s important, or do you say ‘you
must be top notch and don’t settle for anything less.’ Well
that is a question, we can examine at another time. Right now, I am
not in the mood for that kind of thinking.
Standing there in the heat of the sun, feeling my body weakening (and
also my pockets as my kids kept coming back for more money for ice cream
and soda and iced tea) but swollen with pride, I wanted to scream, “You’ve
got what it takes to be anything or do anything your heart’s desires!”
Now you are saying to me, but if it is all that much, why don’t
we hear more about it in the newspapers and magazines and TV? Why don’t
they have national and international contests on TV and why don’t
they make movies? Why? Why? Why? Let me answer this way; what these
questions really mean is why white folks don’t think so? For after
all, white folks control all of the above, radio, TV, etc. The question
really mean, If Double Dutch is so much, why don’t white folks
think so? Now, I’ll give us the benefit of the doubt and say consciously
that’s not what we mean. We just mean, we don’t hear about
it. Yes, I know, but the fact remains, we are waiting for white folks
to endorse it. And that you see is the legacy of slavery. We must wait
or watch for white validation. Our own genius doesn’t mean anything
unless white folks sanction it. Our creativity doesn’t mean anything
unless white folks validate it. Our music, art, Double Dutch, doesn’t
mean anything unless white folks endorse it.
This suggests self-negation. It says, “I don’t have anything
to offer and since I don’t have anything to offer, my people don’t
have anything to offer.” How came we to that idea? The answer
- the slave masters and oppressors created systems and institutions,
traditions, religions that had at their core black negation and too
many blacks internalized that idea.
It was hard to do otherwise for the institutions, literature, TV, movies
everything said it was so. Even authorities in the same race often confirmed
it. The idea of black nothingness was almost irrefutable. No wonder
many—too many—accepted this idea of their lack of worth
and emanating from that idea was a catalogue of destructive behavior
Make no mistake about it; blacks do care what white folks say about
them. The greatest concern of some Negroes when blacks talked “black
power,’ was what white folks were going to say about it.
This is not only true with regards to our artistic and athletic abilities;
it is true with regards to our leaders. God sends us leaders who are
committed and assertive. Their words are sharp and pointed. They are
fearless; they have deep concerns for the rights of their people. They
make profound sacrifices! And, sometimes don’t wear European clothes
and/or embrace European symbols. Still, a lot of black folks want to
know what white folks think about them.
Our children display extraordinary skills in Double Dutch. If the questions
is asked, what do white folk think? Our response ought to be, “Who
cares what they think about this sport or this event, or what happened
in the past and/or what will happen in the future?” “We
are here to affirm our own children’s superlative talents, gifts
It is a sad consideration that businesses, corporations, movers and
shakers of African Ancestry can’t discern the importance of this
game. They could reap huge dividends in monetary return and equally
important, respect and pride. We would be the owners as well as the
participants and consumers.
I’m afraid, however, it will be another gift of God that we will
allow others to control and own.
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who
needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures,
predatory lending and/or subprime lending.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
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of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @
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On Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2pm the 30th Annual Randolph Evans Memorial
Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at the House
of the Lord Church. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will be the keynote
On Sunday, June 29, 2008, Evangelist Dawnique Daughtry-Pemberton, Pastor
of the House of the Lord Church in Bergen County, NJ, will be the guest
preacher at the 12noon Worship Service at the House of the Lord Church,
located at 415 Atlantic Avenue.
NEED QUALITY CHILD CARE? – Call the Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial
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