Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back.

Michael Gordon, a junior studying Pop Music at the University of Southern California, who hails from Flemington, New Jersey, provided four pieces of folklore for this collection.

The interview was run, within his studio, at Orchard Avenue, on the outskirts of the University of Southern California.

Folk Performance: Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back.

Folk Type: Proverb.

“Got any proverbs? I don’t think I have enough proverbs. There was an emphasis on variety in the description of this project.” – Stanley Kalu

STORY: I feel like this is a popular one, “step on a crack, break your mother’s back.”

Background Information: The origin of the common, uniquely American superstition ranges back to the late 19th and early 20th century and was originally “Step on a crack and your mother’s baby will be black” or “Step on a crack and your mother will turn black.” A clear reference to the white supremacist perspective is common in the American psyche.

Michael learned the proverb on the playground and his attachment to it comes from the proverbs ubiquity and it’s tie to his early development.

Context of Performance: Michael performed this saying within his room but has not used the term in years. It is, as aforementioned, a playground saying and therefore is performed within that context.

Thoughts: It’s interesting that this has deep, racist roots that have been largely ignored as it’s been passed down through history. This seems to be a direct link the, to paraphrase of Alan Dundes, the “future orientation” of the American psyche. This nation continues to ignore it’s racist past, so it makes sense that this would occur within their proverbs.