This is my confession: I’ve been a Black girl for 45 years but I never learned how to Double Dutch. I know. Pathetic. But I got reasons: I grew up in Long Island in a neighborhood that I’m pretty sure we integrated. At least that was the general family consensus when the neighbor across the street built a huge, 9-ft fence around her property just a few weeks after we moved there in 1979, and her kids announced to us rather nonchalantly one day soon after that that they couldn’t “play with niggers anymore, so…,” and a bunch more white kids burned something—not a cross, but something—on our front lawn. Put it this way: no one was standing outside on the asphalt with two ropes waiting to teach me how to jump in and skip all fast while we happily rhymed “Cinderella, dressed in yellow/Went upstairs to kiss her fellow/Made a mistake and kissed a snake/how many doctors did it take?/1, 2, 3, 4, 5…”
By the time I got around some bonafide Black girls who knew how to jump, I was in college and had deemed myself much too old to learn. Plus, my coordination is for crap and all I could think of for the longest was that I’d get all up between those ropes and lynch my fool self trying to make my body do this:
This is exactly what I told Michelle Clark, Double Dutch world champion and owner of the Atlanta-based Double Dutch Aerobics, when we met recently at a blogger Tweet-up and she swore up and down and to the moon and beyond that she could teach me how to Double Dutch in a minute or less. I was all, “Yeah, right,” and she was all, “Trust me, I got you,” and I was all, “Trust me, I really suck at jumping rope and trying to teach me how to Double Dutch at this age would be an exercise in extreme futility,” and she was all, “C’mon B, I got this.”
So with great trepidation and a whole lot of fear, I invited her and her husband, Sean, over to our place to give me, the girlpies and the hubs a family Double Dutch tutorial. One that I was sure wouldn’t end well. Because who learns how to Double Dutch at 45? And what self-respecting Black mom wants to admit publicly that she’s failed her African American daughters by not showing them how to get it in between the ropes?
“I’m going to teach you how to Double Dutch in less than a minute—watch me,” Michelle swore.
And I’ll be damned if she didn’t do just that. Equipped with nothing more than two ropes, a stop watch and an infectious, encouraging, bubbly attitude, Michelle not only taught all of us how to Double Dutch in less than a minute, but, by the end of our 90-minute session, she had us doing 360 turns, shoulder kicks, speed turning and jump outs. 360 turns, y’all. While jumping Double Dutch. I mean, look at gawd!
I won’t be entering into any competitions anytime soon, but I will be taking Michelle’s Double Dutch aerobics class here in Atlanta, a vigorous but fun workout she promises burns upwards of 700 calories. Her Double Dutch Aerobics motto: “Where fun is the experience and fit is the result!” And I can personally vouch for this. We sweated and jumped and giggled and sweated and jumped some more, and had a helluva time as a family enjoying and encouraging one another as we learned how to do something amazing together.
I can’t thank Michelle enough for making a dream come true for me. And especially for arranging it so that I’m not the last Black girl on the planet who doesn’t know how to Double Dutch. And for saving my daughters from the same fate. We can’t wait for the next lesson!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.