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Learning the Ropes from Double Dutch to Hip-Hop

23 April 2006 No Comment

When we think of African American popular music, our first thought is probably not of double-dutch: girls bouncing between two twirling ropes, keeping time to the tick-tat under their toes. But this book argues that the games black girls play — hand-clapping songs, cheers, and double-dutch jump rope — both reflect and inspire the principles of black popular music-making. The Games Black Girls Play illustrates how black musical styles are incorporated into the earliest games African American girls learn—how, in effect, these games contain the DNA of black music. Drawing on interviews, recordings of hand-clapping games and cheers, and her own observation and memories of game-playing, Kyra D. Gaunt argues that black girls’ games are connected to long traditions of African and African American music-making, and that they teach vital musical and social lessons that are carried into adulthood.

“By placing black girls at the center of her analysis, Kyra Gaunt challenges us to be ever mindful of the importance of gender, the body, and the everyday in our discussions of black music. The Games Black Girls Play is an exciting and original work that should forever transform the way we think about the sources of black, indeed American, popular music. This is a bold, brilliant, and beautifully written book.”
—Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University

“The Games Black Girls Play not only makes the point that black girls matter, but that the games, thoughts, and passions of black girls matter in a world that regularly renders black girls invisible and silent. Gaunt brilliantly argues that the culture of black girls is a critical influence on contemporary black popular culture.” 
— Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity

The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double Dutch to Hip-Hop by Kyra D. Gaunt 

In this finger-snapping, thigh-slapping, foot-stomping celebration of playground poetry and childhood choreography, Gaunt uncovers the surprisingly rich contributions of girls’ play to black popular culture. The Games Black Girls Play is a somatic historiography of music, race and gender relations that also reveals a new view of the male-dominated musical production of rap and hip-hop.

Purchase “The Games Black Girls Play”

About the Author 
Kyra D. Gaunt is associate professor of ethnomusicology at New York University who lectures nationally and internationally on African American music. She is also a jazz vocalist, songwriter and recording artist. Her stand in life that there is no separation between people because of race, sex, age or education and that there is nothing to change to have that now. Inside this commitment, she is currently accountable as the Chair of the sub-committee for Legacy and Empowerment for the August 2007 World Culture Open Africa Program in Kigali, Rwanda. This is an international arts event and conference held in Africa in partnership with FESPAD. FESPAD aims at “bringing together the African people so as to take an active part in social, political, economic and cultural development of Africa by creating meeting points and providing opportunity for dialogue on everlasting peace, understanding, appreciation and mutual respect.

For more info on Kyra D. Gaunt

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