Black TikTok dance creators are on strike to call out lack of credit

A post shared by Jalaiah S. Harmon🦋✨ (@jalaiah)

Black TikTok and Twitter gave me so more joy this past weekend with the #BlackTikTokStrike hashtag. Black TikTokers went on strike because they became tired of having their work, specifically their viral choreography for popular songs, stolen and monetized by white TikTokers without credit. An example of this situation was when TikToker Addison Rae appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show several months ago to demonstrate all of the viral dances from TikTok. There was an uproar over the watered down dance moves that Addison recreated without crediting the black originators when she appeared on the show. In response, Jimmy invited the original creators of the dances to his show. Black creators continue to have their moves stolen, so they decided to take a break, for the culture. Below are a few more details from Tech Crunch:

With the release of the video for “Thot Shit,” some Black TikTok creators began calling attention to that exploitation this week, inspiring others to refuse to choreograph a dance to the hit song. The idea behind the movement is that Black artists on the platform create a disproportionate amount of content and culture — much of which is re-packaged and monetized by popular white creators and culture at large.

The song choice probably isn’t a coincidence. The Megan Thee Stallion video is both a playful but important paean to essential workers — twerking grocery, food service and sanitation workers, in this case — and a biting commentary on the wealthy white establishment that exploits their labor without thinking twice.

The “strike” doesn’t have creators leaving the platform or even staying off of the app. Instead, Black creators who might normally contribute dances for the hot new song are sitting back and pointing to what happens when they’re not around. (Predictably: not a lot.)

On the sound’s page, some videos tease choreography but pivot into a statement about how Black creators don’t get their due on the app. In other videos, Black creators watch on in horror at awkward dance attempts failing to fill the void or laugh about how the song’s lyrics are instructional but non-Black TikTok still can’t figure it out.

When reached for comment on the phenomenon, TikTok praised Black creators as a “critical and vibrant” part of the community.

“We care deeply about the experience of Black creators on our platform and we continue to work every day to create a supportive environment for our community while also instilling a culture where honoring and crediting creators for their creative contributions is the norm,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

[From Tech Crunch]

Watching the videos of Black creators making fun of how dry TikTok has become over this past week without their creative force on the platform has had me hollering. Obviously this phenomenon is not new in the west. Europeans and their off-spring have been monetizing BIPOC creations without credit for literal centuries. Don’t believe me? Why is Elvis Presley often credited as the father of Rock n Roll when Chuck Berry created the genre AND the moves? Hip Hop was banned from MTV until 1988 but now the best known rappers are white like Macklemore and Eminem (although Em deserves his accolades). Remember the Bo Derek braids controversy? I am proud of these Black TikTokers saying enough is enough. I would also suggest that these platforms like TikTok and Youtube who have created racist algorithms that favor white creators over Black and Brown ones work on making their platforms equitable. Those who work tirelessly should not be robbed of opportunities because they are not the right shade. Good on these Black TikTokers for taking a stand. If I were them, I would not come back until they got their coins! The only downside of this strike is not having a viral dance for Meg Thee Stallion’s “Thot Sh*t” song which is going to be a banger all summer.

Some of the videos that made me laugh:

A post shared by EBC (@embracingblackculture)

Some Tweets:

— Zakiya Soleil (@ZakiyaSoleil) June 22, 2021

— Richard Chip Jones (@Call_Me_Chipp) June 26, 2021

Look at what popped up on my fyp🤣🤣

"All of a sudden"

— BeLLaBrOwN (@JayePeso) June 26, 2021

— Bwelch1981 (@bwelch1981) June 25, 2021

A post shared by Jalaiah S. Harmon🦋✨ (@jalaiah)

Note by CB: Header image is of TikTok choreographer and dancer, Jalaiah S. Harmon. You can follow her on TikTok here and on Instagram here.

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