Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

Over the weekend, June 21 – 22, 2008, the news media carried stories regarding the sport of Double Dutch. I went to my files and pulled up a story that I had written in 1977, over 30 years ago. I hope the readers find this article as interesting as I did when I re-read it.

Jumping Up A Storm

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 Dutch.
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 split.

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, artistry personified.
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 patterns.

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 and abilities.”

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.

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

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.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
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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 speaker.

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.

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