The majorette dance is appropriated on TikTok

The majorette dance is appropriated on TikTok

  • US News
  • March 18, 2023
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Since its inception, TikTok has been home to non-Black creators who copy and never credit Black artists — especially choreographers. This is problematic for many reasons, but most egregiously because Black creators have been known to be paid significantly less than their non-Black counterparts.

One of the more recent viral trends involves a modern staple of young black culture: majorette-style dancing.

And while there were murmurs of dissatisfaction with the dance style being coopted as a Gen Z trend worn by white female creators, Khalil Greene, also known on TikTok as a Gen Z historian, explained it most succinctly. In the well-shared video, which racked up over 65,000 views, he recently reminded TikTokers to stop appropriating the genius of black creators and denounced the app for allowing Gen Zs to bite off and bury black content.

It should be noted that the original usage of the term “majorette” referred to Dutch carnival dancers. But it became what we know today when the style of baton work and accompanying dance made its way to the American South — particularly to black institutions, Essence reports.

In Greene’s post, he challenges white TikTokers to master majorette choreography in the viral challenges Her Way and No Love. Non-Black TikTokers have posted and garnered millions of views with their renditions of this choreography, reportedly created by 19-year-old Jordyn Williams, with no clues as to where the moves originated or 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 criticized the post for calling the choreography a “silly little TikTok dance” and falsely attributing authorship to a K-pop group. Greene then credits the actual creator, allegedly an Alabama majorette, and then provides a brief but useful history of majorette culture.

I refuse to believe that people — even those unfamiliar with black American majorette culture — are simply unaware that black people invented this dance style, especially after Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed Netflix special Homecoming did such a thing has shed respectful light on HBCU community culture and dances.

Modern majorette dance is a unique style derived from African, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop techniques and is among dance’s blackest expressions. It’s a piece of culture that should be strictly protected, especially since performing as a majorette is a rite of passage. Not just any body can do that. You need to know the history and then study and practice the movements before you can perform them, much like ceremonial choreography 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 emerges, let alone the person or persons behind it.

With all the recent chatter about TikTok being banned, I could care less if the app fell off the face of the planet. While I’m always here for freedom of speech and access to information, erasure has reached new heights and there seems to be no antidote to it. So let’s finally start respecting the drip and giving some credit to our black creators.

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