Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Back in the day, I could not wait for the popular song at the time to come on the radio, record it onto a cassette and run outside so we could make up a Step.
My friends, cousins and I could not wait to get our steps in order and show out!
We were going show these moves to anybody that would watch because we were just that proud of our foot work. The joys of my childhood consisted of simply figuring out. As long as we were on the porch by the time those street lights began to flicker, our days were passed with fire hydrants and sprinklers, double dutch and summer camps, big wheels and bicycles, BBQ’s, music and Steps.
A Step consisted of numerous 8-counts backed up by a beat that you better made sure you were on. Because you absolutely could not be in our group if you were not dancing on beat. We did not come to play.
Which brings me to TikTok.
When I saw a few months ago that a TikToker had come under fire for dancing on Jimmy Kimmel I was initially confused because although I’m not on TikTok, I thought that was where all the latest dances came from.
How unsurprising was it to discover that Addison Rae, who is white, had been invited to perform eight TikTok dances, many of which were choregraphed by black creators. None of these young creators were given any credit for their creativity and it resurfaced how often blacks are the brains in the background yet never received their just due.
In 1955, it took just days to mobilize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and over a year to sit-out which affected the city so bad due to the 75% black ridership at the time, they had no choice but to allow black people to sit in the front. Now that I’m thinking of it, it’s almost baffling that the Civil Rights movement spans less than 10 years because when have black people in this country not fought for equality? The countless stories of heartbreak that we’ve shared in the black community trying to establish a rightful place in this country is astounding, and just like we’re not letting you have our cornrows, you can’t have our dances either.
Megan The Stallion recently dropped her highly anticipated single “Thot Shit” and the girls are here for it. The beat is clubby and Megan’s lyrics are bossy, aggressive and perfect for another hot girl summer. By now the variation of this dance challenge would’ve made its way all over social media with kids bouncing around their houses consumed by these dance moves.
That would be the case if black TikTokers were not on strike.
In an effort to take their creativity back they are refusing to create a dance for Megan’s song and as a result, young white kids are…doing their best. Just like everything else that first starts off black and ends up somewhere else, its both the act that gets lost in translation as well as what’s embedded in the intention behind it. Our hair has always been policed but you can’t tell us its wrong and then turn around and think you can rock it better than us. You don’t get to take our music and capitalize on it, only to look down on the same young black kids who may be misguided in their messages yet your kids do everything except color their skin brown trying to emulate them. And you especially don’t get to take our moves and past them off as your own while not crediting where your flyness came from in the first place. You simply don’t care and that is where the problem lies. We’re not here for your enjoyment although we’ve done everything including dressing up and standing on the first lines of combat, somehow believing if we showed our alliance, we too could be accepted. And it still wasn’t enough.
Everything about us has been made to be political. As our hair has routed those before us to freedom, it was the negro spirituals that our ancestors carried through the fields feeding them hope. And once forced to dance on slave ships under the belief it would liven their spirits, the Slave Act of 1740 was passed to prohibit slaves from dancing because plantation owners were afraid it would cause an uprising.
The only thing this shows me is that black people are truly the tastemakers of this world. And since we were forced here, we’ve stimulated this economy without as much as a thank you. I was going to ask if we could at least live but as the weekly news shows us, that’s an impossible feat as well. So, as you can see, we don’t mind sharing; can you at least not mind stealing?