Since its inception, TikTok has been home to non-Black creators copying and never crediting Black artists — 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 “majorette” 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 — particularly to Black institutions, Essence reports.
In Greene’s post, he calls out white TikTokers for appropriating majorette 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, 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 “origins” of the viral choreography. He criticized the post for referring to the choreography as a “silly little TikTok dance” 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 — even those unfamiliar with Black American majorette culture — simply aren’t aware that Black people created this dance style, especially after Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed Netflix special “Homecoming” 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’s a piece of culture that should be fiercely protected, mainly because performing as a majorette is a rite of passage. Not any’ 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’t care less if the app fell off the face of the planet. While I’m always here for freedom of expression and access to information, it’s taken erasure to new heights, and there doesn’t seem to be any antidote to that. So let’s start finally respecting the drip and giving our Black creators some credit.