We Need To Talk About The Appropriation Of Majorette Dancing On TikTok

Once again, creators have coopted Black choreographers' dances without giving proper credit.
Southern University Human Jukebox Fabulous Dancing Dolls members perform during HBCU Culture Homecoming Fest & Battle Of The Bands on Jan. 15, 2023, in Georgia. Although majorette-style dancing is trending on TikTok, it hasn't gotten proper credit.
Southern University Human Jukebox Fabulous Dancing Dolls members perform during HBCU Culture Homecoming Fest & Battle Of The Bands on Jan. 15, 2023, in Georgia. Although majorette-style dancing is trending on TikTok, it hasn't gotten proper credit.
Paras Griffin via Getty Images

Since its inception, TikTok has been home to non-Black creators copying and never crediting Black artists 鈥 specifically choreographers. This is problematic for many reasons, but most egregiously because Black creators have been known to get paid significantly less than their non-Black counterparts.

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

And while there have been murmurs of discontent about the dance style being co-opted as a Gen Z trend white female creators are carrying, Khalil Greene, also known as the Gen Z historian on TikTok, explained it most succinctly. In the well-circulated 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 Zs to bite off and bury Black content.

It should be noted that the original use of the term 鈥渕ajorette鈥 referred to Dutch carnival dancers. But it became what we now know it to be when the style of baton work and accompanying dance came to the American South 鈥 particularly to Black institutions, Essence reports.

In Greene鈥檚 post, he calls out white TikTokers for appropriating majorette choreography in the viral 鈥淗er Way鈥 and 鈥淣o Love鈥 challenges. Non-Black TikTokers have posted and racked up millions of views with their renditions of this choreography, reportedly created by 19-year-old Jordyn Williams, with no references to where the moves come from 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 incorrectly revealed the 鈥渙rigins鈥 of the viral choreography. He criticized the post for referring to the choreography as a 鈥渟illy little TikTok dance鈥 and inaccurately crediting a K-Pop group for creating it. Greene then gives credit to the actual creator, reportedly a majorette from Alabama, and then provides a brief but useful history of majorette culture.

I refuse to believe that people 鈥 even those unfamiliar with Black American majorette culture 鈥 simply aren鈥檛 aware that Black people created this dance style, especially after Beyonce虂鈥檚 critically acclaimed Netflix special 鈥淗omecoming鈥 shined such a respectful light on the HBCU community, culture and dances.

Modern majorette dance is a unique style derived from African, Jazz, Ballroom, and hip-hop techniques and is among the Blackest forms of dance expression. It鈥檚 a piece of culture that should be fiercely protected, mainly because performing as a majorette is a rite of passage. Not any鈥 ole body can do it. You need to know the history and then study and practice the moves before you can perform them, similar to choreography at 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 seldom comes through, let alone the person or people behind it.

With all the recent chatter about banning TikTok, I, for one, couldn鈥檛 care less if the app fell off the face of the planet. While I鈥檓 always here for freedom of expression and access to information, it鈥檚 taken erasure to new heights, and there doesn鈥檛 seem to be any antidote to that. So let鈥檚 start finally respecting the drip and giving our Black creators some credit.

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