This is no secret but is becoming more and more obvious daily, black creators are being culturally appropriated, ignored, and some believe their content is being suppressed on the all popular social media platform, TikTok. TikTok has become a real life ‘Bring it On!’ cheer competition for influencers, but instead of cheerleading the choreography that is stolen are viral dance moves. White influencers are constantly stealing the original content from black creators while the white influencers reap all benefits. The benefits can include them going viral, recognition, being requested as guests on national tv shows to demonstrate ‘their moves’, revenue and etc.
One of the most popular instances of this was Jalaiah Harmon, 15 (Jalaiahharmon on TikTok), and her epic creation of the Renegade dance that took off full speed on the DubSmash platform. Jalaiah soon posted the video to her instagram page where within the first day it received over 13,00 views. (Assuming one of those viewers was social media influencer Charli D’amelio) The viral dance spread like wild fire on TikTok then crossed over to Facebook and of course Twitter. The spread of the dance was epic and because of this dance the song has received just under 56 million streams to date.
Soon after the dance began to pick up traction on Instagram social media influencer, Charli D’amelio stole the choreography, slightly changed it (to make it her own) and repackaged it as if it was her original choreography and proceeded to post it to her TikTok page. Unfortunately because of her larger following over 27 million to be exact and a verified check, people naturally assumed she was the original creator of the dance. Soon enough the voices of Jalaiah’s followers were heard and the rapper, and creator of the song Lottery (the song used in the dance) K Camp thanked her for her creativity, and reposted her original video to his instagram page. Charli failed to give credit originally, but after much criticism eventually recorded a video featuring Jalaiah.
Another instance of this was the Savage dance which was originally created by Keara Wilson, 19 (@Keke_janajah on TikTok). The dance and song became the viral dance sensation of the spring/summer of 2020 during a national pandemic. This song gave people something to do at home while the world was virtually shut down. White creators latched on to this dance and reposted videos without giving credit to the original source. Rapper, Megan The Stallion eventually posted Keara’s video to her instagram to give credit, but that was after it seemed the entire world had already recreated her moves.
Most recently Addison Rae, a white TikTok influencer with over 78 million followers who is also verified was a featured guest on the Jimmy Fallon show. Fallon featured her as a guest to demonstrate some of the most popular viral TikTok dances, which were mostly all created by black creators. It is cringe worthy to watch a white girl from middle/upper class America dance to Hip Hop songs some of which were created before she was a preteen such as Laffy Taffy by D4L. It was even more cringe worthy to watch her follow the choreography of the most recent viral dance the Up dance challenge featuring the popular Cardi b song ‘Up’ created by the young black girl @theemyanicole (on tiktok). There is not yet much information about this creator but watch the below video for the original choreography of this dance. While on the show Addison Rae proceeded to demonstrate these dance while failing to give credit to any of the original creators of the viral TikTok dances.
Since Addison Rae’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon social media has been on fire, raising concern for the constant oversight of black creators. As you can see with the above listed viral dances the cycle has been: the dances are created by and stolen from black creators, those dance are then recreated by white creators (who have a larger following are often verified, and they’re accounts are monetized) without giving credit, these white creators go on to reach an additional level of viral fame and praised for their ‘cool dances‘ all while failing to site the original source of the material. An uproar then ensues on social media defending the often black creator of the content and eventually some recognition is finally given to the originator.Some of the rebuttal to giving credit has been the confusion as to why giving credit even matters if the dances were created as challenges, meant for participants to recreate and post them.
I’m here to say that the reason credit does matter is because giving credit eventually translates into additional followers, these followers can lead to a larger audience which can eventually begin to translate into revenue for those creators. They can finally get paid for their art through the start of first giving proper recognition.
Addison Rae and Jimmy Fallon have yet to respond to the uproar over the ‘stolen‘ dances exhibited on the show. Unlike in the movie Bring it On! which took place in the early 2000’s back then cultural appropriation could take place and the black creators could be ignored or not believed at all. Today, social media gives a platform and a voice to the far too often ignored, and the voices of the collective is far louder than that of one individual. It’s impossible to ignore thousands of posts and tweets saying the same thing and asking for recognition to be given to those often ignored. The next time you participate in a viral dance challenge do your best to tag the originator. This small act will recognize their art and can eventually begin to translate into dollars earned by their work and creativity. #Tagablackcreator
Side bar if you don’t understand the ‘Bring it On!’ comparison go look up the amazing move, starring Gabriel Union and Kirsten Dunst, it is based on cultural appropriation experienced by a Compton cheer squad after their routines were stolen by a neighboring white suburban town(sounds familiar). These stolen moves lead this white team to the national cheerleading competition year after year where they won all while using choreography taken from an ignored and marginalized black cheerleading team . The movie premiered in 2000 and is still very relevant today.