In Reply to: Brown girl in the ring posted by John Orford on August 25, 2008 at 09:02:
: "Brown girl in the ring" has interested me since I came across it in the Sixties, on a 10" LP of Jamaican children's songs. In rural Jamaica everyone is brown so why "brown girl?" English children don't sing about white girls. The colonial history of Jamaica and their memory of slavery may account for their awareness of colour and its hierarchy? The version I heard was in fairly deep dialect, but sounded like "she look like sugar or a plum", which makes more sense than some.
This song is on a collection of international children's songs that we used to play at our house a lot back in the late 1990's. It was listed as being from Guyana (although most other sources say Jamaica), and I recall the lyric on that version as being "she likes sugar, she likes gum". The writer of a Wikipedia article on the subject speculates that the song is intended to enhance brown-skinned Caribbean children's self-esteem.