Author Archives: aeatkins@usc.edu

Cow Lick Tea

What is being performed?
DA: I don’t do a lot of folk things when I’m sick but my grandmother used to make this thing
called “cow lick tea.”
AA: What is “cow lick tea?”
DA: It’s absolutely disgusting but basically it’s tea with cow droppings in it
AA: Why cow droppings?
DA: I think it’s because cows eat grass so their droppings are really good for you
AA: Have you ever had it?
DA: God no, but my grandmother would always insist and I think she drank it herself

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you know about “cow lick tea?”
DA: My grandmother but I haven’t really heard it from other people
AA: Where is your grandmother from?
DA: She’s from Marshall Texas but she also has Native American Cherokee roots.
AA: What does it mean to you?
DA: It’s gross and I’ll never make it, but I guess it’s interesting.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
“Cow lick tea” is used to alleviate the symptoms of sore throats, headaches, and other head
colds. It is known for clearing nasal passages and is made from cow droppings. It is given to
anyone of any age looking to relieve themselves from the common cold.

Reflection
This is something I have never heard of before but think could be gross. I accept, however, that
I’ve grown up in the city my whole life and have no knowledge about how cows can be
beneficial to humans. I think this is interesting but don’t think I’ll be partaking.

Pole Splitting

What is being performed?
DA: Well, you know how two people that are walking together are never supposed to split a
pole?
AA: I’ve heard that.
DA: I almost split a pole yesterday. Dad went one way and I went the other when we got close
to the street sign outside the house.
AA: If you split the pole is it instant bad luck?
DA: Of course not, but it catches up with you the way karma works.You split a pole and you’ll
find yourself in bad luck eventually.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Where did you hear this?
DA: I’m pretty sure dad told me this when I was 10 years old.
AA: Where is dad from?
DA: He’s from Los Angeles but grew up around his family from Texas and Oklahoma.
AA: What does this mean to you?
DA: Now it’s kind of funny, but when I was really little it was a serious to me.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Leila Atkins brings this up every time she’s walking with friends and they approach a pole. She
hardly performs this outside of the context. Most of the time she performs it as a warning to
people about to split a pole or right after they have done so. It is something I have also heard of
and still hear of in college.

Reflection
This is something that I have encountered and actively avoid in my lifestyle. I mostly do so out
of kicks and not serious belief, but still recognize that it has a pretty good effect on my life.

Juneteenth

What is being performed?
LA: I think Juneteenth might be the most important celebration in the City of Carson.
AA: What is juneteenth?
LA: Juneteenth is a festival that takes place every year in mid June to celebrate the day the
slaves were freed. I think they were freed on June 13th, but the story goes that the slaves
couldn’t say “June thirteenth” so they said “Juneteenth” and that’s where the festival name
comes from
AA: What kind of activities happen at Juneteenth festivals?
LA: There’s a lot of food. A lot of Watermelon. A lot of children, African dancing to remind you of
your roots, and jazz music.
AA: Where do Juneteenth festivals usually take place?
LA: They are almost always outdoors in parks
AA: Is there any structure to the festivals?
LA: There’s usually an opening ceremony of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a main event of praise
dance or other African dance styles, and a closing where you pray to your ancestors
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you like this piece?
LA: It’s a reminder that freedom can’t be taken for granted.
AA: How did you find out about this festival?
LA: I grew up in Compton and my mother used to take me to Juneteenth. Now, I hear about it
through flyers from the city of Carson.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Juneteenth is performed around June 13th annually predominantly in Black communities but
could be found in other places. It’s meant to celebrate the freedom of slaves in America and
give thanks to ancestors that were enslaved and beaten for the freedom of future generations.

Reflection
Growing up I have been to multiple Juneteenth festivals and see them as a safe space to be
joyous about my culture, black excellence, and African aesthetics. I have participated in praise
dances that usually take part in these events and see this festival as very important festival to
take place in America, especially today.

The King’s Ring

What is being performed?
LA: I know a proverb but it comes with a story.
AA: What’s the proverb?
LA: The proverb is this too shall pass, but it comes from a long story.
AA: What’s the story?
LA: I think basically this king is on a journey to find a ring that could make a happy man sad and
a sad man happy. The king eventually finds a ring with the words “this too shall pass” engraved
on the inside. It’s supposed to remind people that bad things come to an end but that also so do
good things.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you like this story?
LA: It reminds me to not sweat over the small stuff because it all goes away but to also live in
the moment.
AA: Wow. Where did you learn this from?
LA: I heard it from my grandmother when I was in my 20s.
AA: And where is your grandmother from?
LA: Arcadia Louisiana

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
AA: Do you ever share this story?
LA: I try to pass it on to my children and live my life by it.
10

Reflection
My mother told me the story of “this too shall pass” for the first time when I was in middle school.
It is a story that has stuck with me for my whole life. The version I remember had to do with King
Solomon but nevertheless he was searching for a ring that would accomplish two things. I think
it’s one of the most profound stories and I try to live my life by it.

Watermelon Growing

JJ: Do you know about the watermelon thing?
AA: What watermelon thing?
JJ: So, this is something I think is passed down from generation to generation
AA: Oh, really?
JJ: Oh, yes! So basically, it goes that if you eat a watermelon, or like, eat something with seeds
in it, that the seeds will sprout in your stomach, and you’ll grow a watermelon inside you
AA: Like a whole watermelon? If you swallow the seeds?
JJ: Yep, a whole watermelon
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: When was the first time you heard this?
JJ: Uh, from my brother and his friends.
AA: And where are you from?
JJ: Newburyport, Massachusetts.
AA: What did you think of it? How did it affect or play out in your life?
JJ: It scared me. I still to this day don’t eat watermelon.
AA: What?
JJ: Well, partly because I don’t like the taste, but also I don’t know, maybe I was affected
psychologically.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Jonathan recalls this being performed in elementary school, specifically with older kids telling
this to younger kids to scare them. He doesn’t remember it being carried on into middle school
but it being very believable in elementary school.

Reflection
I have definitely heard this before but I think it’s weird more than it is anything else. I’m pretty
sure I heard it in elementary school and I remember being afraid to swallow seeds but I never
feared eating fruit in general. I see how this can spook children though.