On TikTok, Majorette Dancing is appropriated
From It is creation, TikTok has welcomed non-black creators copying and never crediting black artists — especially choreographers. This is problematic for many reasons, but mostly because black creators are known to get paid much less than their non-black counterparts.
One of the most recent viral trends includes a modern staple of young black culture: majorette-style dancing.
And while there have been whispers of displeasure about the dance style being co-opted as a Gen Z trend that white female designers are wearing, Khalil Greene, also known as the Gen Z Historian on TikTok, the explained most succinctly. In the well-streamed video, which has garnered over 65,000 views, he recently reminded TikTokers to stop appropriating the genius of black creators and denounced the app for allowing Gen Z to bite and bury black content.
It should be noted that the original use of the term “cheerleader” refers to Dutch carnival dancers. But it became what we now know is when the style of baton work and accompanying dancing arrived in the American South — particularly in black institutions, Essence reports..
In Greene’s post, he calls out white TikTokers for appropriating the cheerleader’s choreography in the viral “Her Way” and “No Love” challenges. Non-black TikTokers have posted and racked up millions of views with their renditions of this choreography, which is believed to have been created by Jordyn Williams, 19without reference to the origin of the movements and the history of the majorette dance style.
In his analysis, Greene also points to another viral video from a K-Pop stan account that falsely revealed the “origins” of the viral choreography. He slammed the post for calling the choreography “a silly little TikTok dance” and wrongly crediting a K-Pop group for creating it. Greene then credits the actual creator, who is believed to be an Alabama cheerleader, and then provides a brief but helpful history of cheerleader culture.
I refuse to believe that people – even those unfamiliar with black American majorette culture – simply don’t know that black people created this style of dance, especially after by Beyoncé critical Acclaimed Netflix special “Homecoming” shed such a respectful light on the HBCU community, culture and dances.
The modern majorette dance is a unique style derived from African techniques, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop and is among the blackest forms of dance expression. It’s a piece of culture that needs to be fiercely protected, mostly because performing as a cheerleader is a rite of passage. Any body can’t do it. You have to know the history and then study and practice the moves before you can perform them, such as choreography in ceremonies for African and indigenous tribes.
But in the case of social media, these cultural rites often go out the window, and the meaning behind the viral dance rarely shines through, let alone the person or people behind it.
With all the recent to chatter about banning TikTok, I for one don’t care if the app falls off the face of the planet. While I’m still here for free speech and access to information, erasure has reached new heights, and there doesn’t seem to be an antidote to it. So let’s finally start respecting the drip and giving credit to our black creators.