Black TikTokers go on STRIKE and refuse to create viral dances as white creators ‘fail to credit’


Black TikTokers have gone on strike and are refusing to create viral dances because they say white creators don’t credit them and become overnight stars with the stolen moves. 

The no-dance strike erupted when Megan Thee Stallion released her new song ‘Thot S**t’ on June 11 – something that would typically lead to the creation of a viral dance circulating on the social media app as happened with her song ‘WAP’ with Cardi B.  

By Tuesday morning – almost one month on from the song’s release – there were around 487,000 videos on TikTok set to the song but no dance trend has yet emerged. 

TikTok is known for its viral dance crazes, which black creators say are often choreographed by them before the trend is picked up by white stars, many of whom have achieve lucrative success outside of the app thanks to their large follower counts – like teenager Charli D’Amelio and Kourtney Kardashian’s pal Addison Rae.

Several black creators say white creators then fail to credit them for their work and benefit from copying them – sometimes even taking the credit for its creation. 

Both Charli, who boasts 119.4 million followers, and Addison, who has 81.8 million fans on the app, have previously come under fire for failing to give black dancers due credit when recreating their work.  

Black TikTokers have gone on strike and are refusing to create viral dances because they say white creators don’t credit them and become overnight stars with the stolen moves. The no-dance strike erupted when Megan Thee Stallion (pictured) released her new song ‘Thot S**t’

Erick Louis, a 21-year-old black TikTok star, posted a video on June 17 appearing to initiate the boycott. The video has 'Thot S**t' playing in the background, with the words 'MADE A DANCE TO THIS SONG' above his head

Erick Louis, a 21-year-old black TikTok star, posted a video on June 17 appearing to initiate the boycott. The video has ‘Thot S**t’ playing in the background, with the words ‘MADE A DANCE TO THIS SONG’ above his head

But, instead of breaking into dance, Louis flipped the bird at the camera while the words above him changed to: 'SIKE. THIS APP WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE'

But, instead of breaking into dance, Louis flipped the bird at the camera while the words above him changed to: ‘SIKE. THIS APP WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE’

The recent dance boycott by black creators appears to have been initiated by Eric Louis, a 21-year-old TikTok star who posted a video on June 17, which was set to the tune of Megan Thee Stallion’s newest hit.    

He posted the clip with the caption: ‘If y’all do the dance pls tag me, it’s my first dance on Tik tok and I don’t need nobody stealing/not crediting.’

In the video, Louis starts moving to the music with the words ‘MADE A DANCE TO THIS SONG’ above his head.

But, instead of breaking into a choreographed routine, Louis flips the bird at the camera while the words above him change to: ‘SIKE. THIS APP WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE.’

The video, which had more than 132,000 likes as of Tuesday morning, marked the beginning of the strike.     

Louis slammed what he described as ‘digital colonizing’ and ‘exploitation of labor’ of black TikTok creators and said the strike could go on indefinitely. 

‘We make the trends… and when we remove ourselves from the equation… it’s nothing left but mediocrity,’ he told the LA Times

‘I can’t tell you how long it’s going to last, but I do want to say that I think this is an indicator of how frustrated the black community is. I feel like this isn’t the last time something like this will happen.’

Although he did not call out any white creators by name, Louis noted that it is part of a bigger issue of ‘anti-blackness’ on TikTok and that the platform needs to show its black creators it values their content.

‘I know for me personally, this is a much wider issue outside of this digital colonizing. TikTok has a really big issue with just black leaders and anti-blackness,’ he said.

‘What’s kind of flown over people’s heads is this issue concerning the exploitation of labor on the app.’  

Under fire: White TikTok stars like teenager Charli D'Amelio have long come under fire for performing dances by black creators without crediting them - like the viral Renegade routine

Under fire: White TikTok stars like teenager Charli D’Amelio have long come under fire for performing dances by black creators without crediting them – like the viral Renegade routine 

Uproar: The issue received fresh attention in March when TikToker Addison Rae performed several dances made by black creators on The Tonight Show - without crediting any of them

Uproar: The issue received fresh attention in March when TikToker Addison Rae performed several dances made by black creators on The Tonight Show – without crediting any of them

TikTok star Challan T., who has more than four million followers, said there would usually be a viral dance ‘within the hour’ when Megan Thee Stallion released a song. The rapper has become something of a viral sensation on the app and many of her hits have resulted in dance trends, including Savage and WAP. 

‘I was scrolling and noticed that everyone was flailing their arms under the sound,’ she added. 

She tweeted her support of the strike, writing: ‘Not Black TikTok on strike from making dances PLEASE LMFAOOOO.’ 

She told the Times there have been several occasions where she hasn’t been credited for her work, which she believes comes down to ‘racism’. 

‘People just don’t want to give black people credit for the things that we make,’ she said.

‘Because there’s a lot of times where a white creator will make a dance, and I’ll see that credit in the caption every time. 

‘If it’s a black person, it’s invalid automatically to some people, and they just don’t even want to attempt.’

However she said she is concerned about pushback if she were to demand being credited for her work.  

Another TikTok star Herecia Grace told the Times she was joining the strike even though it was tempting to create a dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s new song. 

‘Without black creators, things aren’t created on this app. Pop culture really moves behind us when we move it,’ Grace said. 

TikTok star Challan T. said there have been several occasions where she hasn't been credited for her work

TikTok star Challan T. said there have been several occasions where she hasn’t been credited for her work

Challan, who has more than 4 million followers, tweeted her support of the strike

Challan, who has more than 4 million followers, tweeted her support of the strike

Fellow TikToker Keon Martin said the pushback was 'very long overdue' and posted a video on the app mocking the lack of any viral dances emerging due to the boycott

Fellow TikToker Keon Martin said the pushback was ‘very long overdue’ and posted a video on the app mocking the lack of any viral dances emerging due to the boycott

‘TikTok definitely gets to decide what goes viral, and I think they just don’t choose us. I think that the beauty standards have something to do with that.’  

She said she hopes the strike will ‘shake the table a little bit, because it seems like it actually made a difference this time.’ 

‘People were actually like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t realize how much you guys do on the app.”  

Fellow TikToker Keon Martin said the pushback was ‘very long overdue.’

‘Black creators are just really tired of our dances and our trends being stolen,’ he said.

‘We’re not given credit, but a white person can do our trend and walk out with 100,000 followers.’ 

He posted a video in June on the app mocking the lack of any viral dances emerging due to the boycott.

‘Yt people under this sound because a Blk Person didn’t make a dance yet,’ read the TikTok.  

Raven Maragh-Lloyd, an assistant professor of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, told CNN the issue is part of a wider problem with cultural appropriation.

However, the format of TikTok makes copying other people’s work standard practice, Maragh-Lloyd said. 

‘TikTok is a new kind of player in that it was specifically built, I would argue, to copy and share content without credit to the original author,’ Maragh-Lloyd said. 

‘The whole point of TikTok is to copy.’ 

‘I think TikTok is in strange waters when it comes to appropriation.’  

Both TikTok and its white creators have been called out in the past over their treatment of black content creators. 

The Renegade dance went viral in the end of 2019 after being performed by white stars like D'Amelio and Rae, however it later emerged that they were not the creators. Following a bitter backlash, they both performed a video with its choreographer, black teen Jalaiah Harmon

The Renegade dance went viral in the end of 2019 after being performed by white stars like D’Amelio and Rae, however it later emerged that they were not the creators. Following a bitter backlash, they both performed a video with its choreographer, black teen Jalaiah Harmon

Despite the bitter backlash, white TikTokers - including former Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler - have continued to perform the Renegade dance without crediting Harmon

Despite the bitter backlash, white TikTokers – including former Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler – have continued to perform the Renegade dance without crediting Harmon

At the end of 2019, white TikToker D’Amelio became one of the app’s most famous teen stars when she performed the viral Renegade dance to K-Camp’s hit Lottery. The video that she posted was recreated by hundreds of other white creators, including her close friend Addison.

However, it emerged a few months later that D’Amelio had not created the dance. 

Instead, it was black teen Jalaiah Harmon who choreographed the world famous routine but received no credit for it. 

This revelation sparked an uproar with calls for Harmon to be credited for her work. 

D’Amelio and Rae later uploaded videos of themselves performing the dance with Harmon and crediting her for ‘the original choreography that she made.’ 

A similar incident happened in March of this year when Rae performed a dance to Cardi B’s Up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The dance had been choreographed by two black teens Mya Johnson and Chris Cotter, however neither were credited on-air, sparking fury among viewers and creators alike. 

At the time, Johnson told Teen Vogue that this was part of an ongoing trend.

‘This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I don’t want it to continue,’ she said. ‘I feel like it is very important for us to get our credit because we are very good creators that are very overlooked in what we do.’ 

Last June, when calls for racial justice grew in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, black creators staged a blackout refusing to post content on the app and accusing TikTok of suppressing content that spoke out against racism and oppression.

TikTok later apologized saying it ‘welcome the voices of the black community wholeheartedly.’

The company told the Times in a statement about the latest strike that it cares ‘deeply’ about the experience of its black stars and about people being credited for their work.   

‘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,’ the company said. 



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