Tag Archives: ethnic



“So this is something that we actually took from “Dora the Explorer” in my house. There is an episode, where, I think we were watching because it was when my brothers were younger and they would watch it. And my mom would watch with us. So we were watching one day, and I think they were making chocolate. Dora and her grandmother.

And so they sang the chocolate song.

‘Bate, bate, chocolatè

Mix that cho-co-late, chocolatè

Bate, bate, chocolatè!’

So we heard that, and I think maybe my mom had heard it before. Like I think it is a thing Mexican culture, I don’t know though. Because I remember once telling someone about it who was Mexican and he knew a version of it. But that was the first time me and my brothers heard it.

But anyways, so in the show they sang it to make chocolate. Like stir it together, or something. But for us, after that, my mom would rub our bellies when we had a stomach ache and sing it to us. She would like rub it in a circle, and after we would feel better.

So then when I would get stomach aches after I went to college, I would have my boyfriend, who is white, sing the song to me and rub my stomach. Which of course he then was mad and wanted me to do the same to him when he got stomach aches. So now whenever we’re piggies and eat too much, we rub eachother’s stomachs and sing the song. “Can you bate me?” It’s pretty gross.”


This is like a mix of folk music and folk medicine. There seems to be some Hispanic heritage or pride peeking its way into this tradition. Since Dora the Explorer is Hispanic, and she believes her mom may have known this song prior, it does feel grounded in the Hispanic culture.

It is also folk medicine in that she uses it specifically for relieving stomach aches, not for mixing chocolate like Dora does. A stomach ache is such a weird thing to cure; there are definitely some over the counter cures, but it does not surprise me that people would think of different ways to cure it. I like that she has now passed it down to her significant other. The song has taken on a whole new meaning than it was most likely originally intended for.

It is funny that this seems to be a pretty traditional song, a Google search comes with a bunch of variants (see below) that was repurposed for Dora the Explorer. It was also kind of gringo-fied, which is to say many of the other versions were more based in Spanish, but Dora seems to strip that out and replace it with English. It is an interesting, but somewhat predictable choice.

I found this other version of the “Bate” song here.


A Very Indian Joke


“In India, it is not uncommon – actually, scratch that, it is incredibly common to make tongue-in-cheek jokes against members of other cultures. They are not meant to be offended, because everyone makes such jokes against others. This is one of them. Pay close attention: Three men – a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim – are in a boat, and it is starting to sink because the boat is too heavy to stay afloat. In order to keep the boat from sinking, the three men all decide to make compromises and throw something overboard to lighten the load. The Hindu says, ‘I’m going to throw my Rolex overboard. I’ve got two or three more watches like this at home.’ And so he does. The Christian takes off his impressive top-hat and antique walking cane and promptly throws them over, saying, ‘I’ve got several more of these at home as well.’ The Muslim, to the shock of the other two men, picks up his wife and deposits her unceremoniously into the ocean, proclaiming, ‘I’m throwing my wife overboard. I’ve got several more wives like this at home!'”


The informant related his experience with this joke: “It was actually my brother-in-law who had come up with this joke after he’d had a little too much to…well, you know. He told me the joke at a party some sixty years ago, but I didn’t find it as funny as he did, perhaps because I was slightly more sober than he was. But only slightly. However, I must confess that did steal the joke from him, obviously because I’m the better joke-teller. Don’t look at me like that, I’m not making it up! I actually modified it a little and then told it at a dinner. It got many more laughs than when he told it. See?”


As the informant said, in India, it is very common to make jokes about other cultures, religions, and ethnic subgroups, poking fun at things that are stereotypical to their particular community. In this particular blason populaire, there are stereotypes of more than one group. In India, there are three distinct images – the Hindu man dressed in a very Spartan manner, with cotton everything except for his expensive gold watch; the Christian man with his tailored suit, felt top-hat, and wooden walking cane; and the Muslim man with his train of wives. Out of all of the three stereotypes, this joke exploits, in particular, the image of the polygamous Muslim, a depiction that has particular popularity among the socially and sexually conservative Hindu community. These two communities have been at odds with each other since the Partition in 1947, and therefore, many ethnic jokes have sprung up from this division in both communities, exploiting stereotypes on either side of the great divide.

Kennywood Russian Festival

Every year at the local theme park in Kennywood, Pittsburgh, there would be a Carpathian-Russian festival to celebrate heritage and go to the theme park. My grandfather often took his family because of the celebration involved and because of the community they were a part of, which was largely Slovakian.

My grandfather cannot remember if it was the park that started these festivals or if it was his community that decided to have the festival. They would be held at the picnic tables at the park, and there would be polka music always played by a live band and traditional polka dancing. The food that was often cooked was kielbasa, perogies, which are similar to ravioli, but have potatoes and cheese inside of them and foods more traditional to the Slovakian population. My grandfather also mentioned that they had poliopkis, similar to pigs in a blanket.

Other groups that would have similar picnics at Kennywood were the Italians and the Polish. The Irish did not as much, as they had a separate festival during the fall that they gathered and celebrated their Irish culture, although it became more commercial and was held at an amphitheater just outside the city. Kennywood festivals were special in that many people usually didn’t even ride the rides, they just paid the general admission fee to get in, (you could purchase single tickets to ride the park rides), and eat the good and participate in the celebrating.

Blason Populaire Joke

The informant learned this joke, which falls under the category of blason populaire, from one of his friends in junior high school. He says that he has also heard it from other active bearers as a “black joke”:

“How do you stop a Mexican from drowning? The answer is, of course, take your foot off his head.”

The informant says that when he performs this joke it is usually in a group of friends who consider vulgar jokes acceptable and that he varies the ethnicity to match the group’s prejudices. He also admits that sometimes he tells the joke when he’s “around people who are racist” and he doesn’t “want to make any waves.”

He considers it to be a “pretty bad joke” but says it’s “easy to use for a cheap laugh, as an icebreaker.”

The informant grew up in Tujunga, which according to the LA Times’s 2009 “Mapping LA” project has a black population of only 1.8%. It is therefore not surprising that he would have heard the “black joke” cognate, since the members of the audience to the joke would have been unlikely to be black or have black acquaintances on whose behalf to be offended. However, it is perhaps more surprising that his friend told it to him as a Mexican joke, since according to the same project, 14.7% of Tujunga’s residents have Mexican ancestry. It may be that the joke was more acceptable to tell because some members of the active bearer’s audience had Mexican ancestry and were willing to laugh at themselves, or perhaps the informant’s friend had Mexican ancestry himself.

Source: Ardalani, Sarah, et al. “Tujunga.” Los Angeles Times. 2009. Tribune Newspaper. 25 April 2011 <http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/neighborhood/tujunga/#ethnicity>.