Black Women and Twerking: Why Its Creators Face Bigotry That Miley Cyrus Never Will

gradientlair:

Twerking, just like everything else that is specifically known to Black women is the latest thing for Whites to try to appropriate while simultaneously trying to police and shame its originators for doing it at all. Whites (and some Blacks as well) are approaching it with the typical White supremacist approach of overly applauding and worshiping whomever is the latest popular spoiled irritant of a White human being to try to do it, which in this case would be Miley Cyrus. Unlike when something Black men, or both Black men and Black women created/do is appropriated, where some Black men are bothered by the appropriation (i.e. The Harlem Shake), once it’s specific to Black women, some Black men no longer care and applaud and worship any and all non-Black (and especially White) women engaged in the appropriation. The latter is also a facet of White supremacy (and male privilege).

While the sheer act of someone who isn’t Black woman twerking doesn’t bother me theoretically, I don’t like its practical manifestation in a White supremacist society. The typical worship (by EVERYONE, even including some Black women) of anyone who isn’t a Black woman doing it, the mocking of Black women’s distress about it and indulging in entitlement and arrogance about the appropriation is the problem. It’s never just people “having fun.” Their “fun” always comes at a huge price for Black women (and Black culture)—reinforcing race and gender hierarchies.

Cultural appropriation itself is a cycle and also a tool of psychological warfare and erasure in a White supremacist society. As Paulo Freire writes:

The oppressor consciousness tends to transform everything surrounding it into an object of its domination. The earth, property, production, the creations of people, people themselves, time—everything is reduced to the status of objects at its disposal.

Once the conversation is about Black women and twerking, the bigotry comes out in full force. I do not accept this bigotry.

No, I do not accept the sexism—the belief that something of interest to women irrespective of male attention or valuation/devaluation is automatically stupid and not worth doing or discussing.

No, I do not accept the misogyny—the notion that twerking can only be self-degrading since it cannot exist for any purpose outside of the dehumanizing gaze of men who choose to only see women as sexual objects, not full human beings engaging in a creative dance with a long Black history.

No, I do not accept the misogynoir—the notion that Black women twerking is “lewd” and “degrading” but White women doing (or trying to do) the exact same dance is “cute” and “classy” and that they should cash in, in attention, praise or actual money (i.e. teaching classes) on twerking while pretending that they do not know the racial double standard here. White privilege is why they can both appropriate and feign ignorance over the magnitude of what this appropriation is. White privilege is why they can continue to dehumanize Black women (while some simultaneously demand loyalty to a White supremacist feminist agenda, versus the intersectional feminism/womanism that we know) by pretending that we are solely objects to emulate—costumes to put on out of interest and then take off if situations get too sticky or portraying a certain form of Whiteness becomes more important or profitable. (See: Justin Timberlake, the male version of this).

No, I do not accept the misogynoir and predictable hypocrisy by Black men—the same ones who were angry about Whites appropriating The Harlem Shake (since Black men do this dance too) but write Black women off as “jealous” for commenting on the double standard regarding twerking (since Black men view this as a dance for women). Male privilege. The same ones who only have an issue with Whites when it is perceived to specifically impact Black men or all Black people, versus solely Black women, are the type of Black men that I’m speaking of. The same ones who endlessly excuse racism from famous White women (but never from a White man of any status) simply because they chase and sleep with non-famous White women are the type of Black men that I’m speaking of. 

No, I do not accept the racist sexist classism—the idea that only “poor” and “ghetto” Black women dance this way, thus making it a “shameful” dance unless absolutely anyone of a different social status does it.

No, I do not accept the ageist sexism—the idea that only women of a certain age should dance this way and anyone arbitrarily too young is being a “whore” and anyone arbitrarily too old is being “immature.”

No, I do not accept the framing through the politics of respectability—the idea that this “shames” Black women in front of White people, and nothing matters more than the White gaze (which is racist because of WHO we are, not WHAT we do or do not do, anyway) and the pathway to White approval, which never comes nor should be a goal in the first place.

No, I do not accept the Christian theist idea, shaped by patriarchy, sexism and misogynoir—that somehow twerking—a dance with African roots no less—is somehow “evil” and thus wrong, when it is in fact White supremacist religious views, originally force-fed, now willingly embraced, that shapes Black intraracial opinions on dancing and writes off anything with Black roots, especially precolonial roots as “evil.”

No, I do not accept the White supremacist feminist rhetoric—that autonomy over one’s person, expression and sexuality as a woman, should only apply to White women, and in the case of Black women, doing the same thing is “unfeminist” (not a real concept in the first place as it implies feminist absolutism as a destination, not the journey and praxis that it is) or anti-feminist (which would only be true if feminism is solely gendered White supremacy). I reject the idea that Black women should exist solely as objects for White women to emulate or disdain while simultaneously shaming, to mask their White supremacist thought and endless White privilege, especially considering the history of Black bodies as objects of White power, profit and pleasure.

A part of Alice Walker’s definition of womanism includes “loves dance” because of the very freedom that comes with creative and cultural expression with meaning and history, that’s also fun and includes the confidence that comes with physical, sexual and emotional autonomy.

How rare is it for twerking to be discussed…or actually anything involving what Black women do, think, say, write, create, believe or are…without bigotry, and sloppy, one-dimensional bigoted ideas as the basis of the discussion or the “critique?”

For Miley, appropriation is “fun” and games; Black women are costumes or “big booty hos” to her, not human beings. For Whites and Blacks/other people of colour, it can be viewed this way too, without context and disregarding the truth because of White supremacy; it allows such ignorance. I don’t have the luxury of disregarding the truth since I, as a Black woman, am the target of such bigotry. And, it will never be acceptable.

Related Posts: White Responses To Black Creativity, Regarding The White “Harlem Shake”, White Women and White Privilege: Telling Them NO

Musicians in Chinatown New York City.

Source: Vine.

I have no trouble believing that Justin Timberlake was not familiar with Take Back the Night, but on the internet, with great access comes great accountability, which means that for most people, being ‘unaware’ of an organization’s existence is no longer an excuse.

Lindsay Zoladz revisits Justin Timberlake’s Take Back the Night controversy in her latest Ordinary Machines column.  (via pitchfork)
In her Honours study of the gendered patterns in a school of music, sociologist Amy Loudin found that, when listening to music, male musicians were more likely to focus on technical issues. Yet when listening to pieces conducted by a woman, they were more likely to judge it based on their perception of her mood, and in so doing, they commented on her violation of gender norms. They said things like, “Well, she’s pissed about something” and “That was really aggressive.” Women’s gender was the focus of their interpretation and critique. One musician says: “I don’t want to say this in a bad way, but she’s a woman.”
The women focused on memory when interpreting music, evoking examples of remembering other experiences: “It reminded me of what would be playing in the opening credits of an old movie,” and “It reminds me of ‘Night on the Bald Mountain.’” Loudin also found that women were under-represented amongst faculty members and as clinicians, conductors and composers. The women who entered the highly masculine fields, such as percussion, felt like they were given feminine instruments, like the bells. Overall, women’s contribution was under-valued, however, they were featured in recital advertising in a sexualised way. 
This is an absolutely wonderful example visual sociology! Made in collaboration with artist Courtney Leonard. 
Image via Behance. High-res

In her Honours study of the gendered patterns in a school of music, sociologist Amy Loudin found that, when listening to music, male musicians were more likely to focus on technical issues. Yet when listening to pieces conducted by a woman, they were more likely to judge it based on their perception of her mood, and in so doing, they commented on her violation of gender norms. They said things like, “Well, she’s pissed about something” and “That was really aggressive.” Women’s gender was the focus of their interpretation and critique. One musician says: “I don’t want to say this in a bad way, but she’s a woman.”

The women focused on memory when interpreting music, evoking examples of remembering other experiences: “It reminded me of what would be playing in the opening credits of an old movie,” and “It reminds me of ‘Night on the Bald Mountain.’” Loudin also found that women were under-represented amongst faculty members and as clinicians, conductors and composers. The women who entered the highly masculine fields, such as percussion, felt like they were given feminine instruments, like the bells. Overall, women’s contribution was under-valued, however, they were featured in recital advertising in a sexualised way. 

This is an absolutely wonderful example visual sociology! Made in collaboration with artist Courtney Leonard. 

Image via Behance.

40h4error:

robofillet:

counterpunches:

literally just a clip of ravers dancing at a music festival, but with the rave music taken out and Benny Hill music put in x

I am never dancing in public ever again

but I mean who dances like that?

Street music in Istanbul.

Source: Vine by Buseeguldal.

Sudanese Australians use music to reflect on their war experiences. This group performed for the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) in Western Sydney. One performer says:

When you’re happy, you sing it out; when you’re sad, you sing it out… You talk to people, you make an announcement – anything at all, you make a song.

Another singer says:

It looks like fun, but it’s not fun… I’m not a young woman, I’m an old woman. I can’t come if it’s [just] fun. We want the people that doesn’t know what happened a long time in the past, and that is why we are here.

STARTTS Chief Executive says:

Dance brings people together, but also brings people together in a way that turns thoughts and feelings into action, and that’s tremendously therapeutic.

Source: SBS News.

Track:
Chaka Khan

Artist:
Ain't Nobody

boredandmoist:

sterlingsea:

renatusx:

Because this definitely one of my favorite songs. 
Wanna cheer me up? Play this track. 

Her voice is so perfect. 

Chaka Khan - Ain’t Nobody 

ain’t nobody loves me better than you

This is one of the best synth beats of all time.

This has been on high rotation in my car this past week. 

(via marvelous-merbutler)

leithomalley:

Lou V Australian Journalist..

sterlingsea:

howtobeterrell:

sapphrikah:

mytwisteddaceyluv:

dapper-dan-hale:

mrskidderkat:

crookedglasses:

negressive:

youngblackandvegan:

diaryofabaglady:

fuckthesliceiwantthepie:

thatlupa:

"faux pixie crop" "clever"
CACKLING

White ppl try so hard

Jordan was right. These white trying to figure out how to make this happen. I’M DYING

lmao white folk so lost



White people better not steal this shit neevuh! 

FAUX PIXIE CUT? Listen…

Holy shit it’s a hair style yet people are really making it about race do they have nothing better to do or

To those of you (I’m talking you, my white brothers and sisters) who don’t get why this is so funny to nonwhites, you obviously don’t understand black culture. Ri-Ri’s (that’s short for Rhianna) hair wrap, the “faux pixie cut” as some of you are now calling it, is equivalent to a white woman leaving the house in freaking hair rollers and black folks calling it a “faux curly bob” and deciding to trend it and wear it out to the clubs as a fashion statement. Here’s a short history lesson (never say I didn’t teach you anything). Since the early 1960s, AA women have been wrapping their hair this way with hairpins and covering it with a scarf before going to bed at night to keep it neat and smooth. It is not…I repeat…not a hairstyle to wear in public unless you just don’t give a fuck. If ya’ll don’t believe me go ask the one black friend you know, if you happen to have one. I ain’t talking about your one mix black friend who’s as lost as you are. I mean your real one who grew up in a house with a black mama who relaxed her hair and used a straightening comb. Being a WoC, Ri-Ri obviously knew this and didn’t bother to unwrap her hair because she doesn’t give a fuck about the AMAs and wasn’t about to waste a hairstyle on it. Yet, some fool wrote an article about how cute and clever her non-hairstyle looked.  This shit is as funny to us as when white folks were making a huge fuss over Miley Cyrus’ so called ‘twerking’ and even had the nerve to put that shit in the dictionary. THE FUCKING DICTIONARY, SERIOUSLY? Sometimes, PoC can’t help but laugh and shake our heads at this nonsense.

YO, THIS EXPLANATION IS EVERYTHING.
WHITE PEOPLE PLEASE READ.
This was yet another of Rihanna’s not-give-a-fuck moments, perhaps even a fuck-you-you’re-not-important gesture towards the AMAs and the public.



Could give a shit about the award show, but when I saw her hair I was just so happy. Happy and amused that non-black people would have no idea what it was or what it meant. lul.
High-res

sterlingsea:

howtobeterrell:

sapphrikah:

mytwisteddaceyluv:

dapper-dan-hale:

mrskidderkat:

crookedglasses:

negressive:

youngblackandvegan:

diaryofabaglady:

fuckthesliceiwantthepie:

thatlupa:

"faux pixie crop" "clever"

CACKLING

White ppl try so hard

Jordan was right. These white trying to figure out how to make this happen. I’M DYING

lmao white folk so lost

White people better not steal this shit neevuh! 

FAUX PIXIE CUT? Listen…

Holy shit it’s a hair style yet people are really making it about race do they have nothing better to do or

To those of you (I’m talking you, my white brothers and sisters) who don’t get why this is so funny to nonwhites, you obviously don’t understand black culture. Ri-Ri’s (that’s short for Rhianna) hair wrap, the “faux pixie cut” as some of you are now calling it, is equivalent to a white woman leaving the house in freaking hair rollers and black folks calling it a “faux curly bob” and deciding to trend it and wear it out to the clubs as a fashion statement. Here’s a short history lesson (never say I didn’t teach you anything). Since the early 1960s, AA women have been wrapping their hair this way with hairpins and covering it with a scarf before going to bed at night to keep it neat and smooth. It is not…I repeat…not a hairstyle to wear in public unless you just don’t give a fuck. If ya’ll don’t believe me go ask the one black friend you know, if you happen to have one. I ain’t talking about your one mix black friend who’s as lost as you are. I mean your real one who grew up in a house with a black mama who relaxed her hair and used a straightening comb. Being a WoC, Ri-Ri obviously knew this and didn’t bother to unwrap her hair because she doesn’t give a fuck about the AMAs and wasn’t about to waste a hairstyle on it. Yet, some fool wrote an article about how cute and clever her non-hairstyle looked.  This shit is as funny to us as when white folks were making a huge fuss over Miley Cyrus’ so called ‘twerking’ and even had the nerve to put that shit in the dictionary. THE FUCKING DICTIONARY, SERIOUSLY? Sometimes, PoC can’t help but laugh and shake our heads at this nonsense.

YO, THIS EXPLANATION IS EVERYTHING.

WHITE PEOPLE PLEASE READ.

This was yet another of Rihanna’s not-give-a-fuck moments, perhaps even a fuck-you-you’re-not-important gesture towards the AMAs and the public.

image

Could give a shit about the award show, but when I saw her hair I was just so happy. Happy and amused that non-black people would have no idea what it was or what it meant. lul.

(via onecuriousb)

From Lorde to Macklemore, it’s a sentiment that’s galling for its popularity: white artists need to stop using the wealth signifiers of rap music to gesture at their self-important “anti-consumerism.” What Allen misses as she washes rims in a kitchen decorated only with bottles of champagne is that it’s not anti-consumerism when it only targets one type of consumer.

Rap owns a unique history soundtracking the triumph of financial success in a country that long barred black Americans from that success. It shouldn’t be an opportunity for white artists to wax superior. Beyond poor taste, it’s the myopia of latent racism that’s more anxious about gold chains on a rapper than an Armani tie on a hedge fund analyst.

Similarly, Lily Allen’s response to sexist industry demands for thinness becomes entirely ineffectual when it lashes out against women who succeed despite those demands. Allen is not savily critiquing the world of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus, she’s resentfully bemoaning not getting to enjoy the same success.

“Hard Out Here” is the opposite of Mileywave. Instead of using black women as props to further her career, Allen blames them for its stagnation. In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.” Cut to black women shaking their ass, so much for sisterly solidarity.

Lily Allen’s Anti Black Feminism by Ayesha A. Siddiqi

Another great one is Hard Out Here for a White Feminist by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

(edited to include the author’s blog and second article thanks to garconniere)

(via nothingman)

Before knowing something about Western music, I was trying to just base the lyrics on old Persian poets like Hafiz, Rumi. They were living 700 years ago, 800 years ago… When your approach is formalistic, you only think about reading, not concepts. Conceptually, most of these don’t work for the modern age. That’s why I started to switch their concepts to our age.

Mohsen Namjoo, “Iran’s Rebel Poet,” is based in the USA as he is unable to return and play his music in his native Iran. While on a European tour in 2009, Namjoo was sentenced to five years imprisonment for citing verses of the Koran with music. This is forbidden in Islamic law in Iran. 

This is an interesting interview with SBS News.

queerqueerspawn:

feministinthekitchen:

  • Katy Perry might as well just have been singing “LONG TIIIIIIIIIME I WILL LOVE YOU LONGGGGG TIMMMEEEEEEEEE” and mixing up her L and R sounds. That is how horrendously racist this performance was.
  • This is absolutely no different than Miley Cyrus’ use of black female bodies in her We Can’t Stop music video and VMAs performance or Lily Allen’s use of black female bodies in her Hard Out Here music video or Selena Gomez’s use of South Asian culture in her Come And Get It music video. All of these videos and performances co-opt aspects of different cultures, cartoonize them, and then marginalize people from those cultures.
  • I really honestly hope to see every single white feminist who vocally criticized Cyrus and Allen and Gomez out in full force against Katy Perry’s racist AMAs performance as well. Walk the talk.
  • It is not a coincidence that the messages of Gomez’s Come And Get It and Perry’s Unconditionally are being used in conjunction with Orientalist imagery from Asian cultures. The literal messages from these songs “when you’re ready come and get it” and “I will love you unconditionally” are ripe for being used to feed the racist western stereotype that all Asian women are constantly sexually available and willingly subservient to men.
  • When Perry bows and puts her hands together and cocks her head a little singing “I will love you unconditionally” at the end bit is just the subservient sexual availability of Asian women as it is understood in the west translated into pop choreography. That is what that is.
  • This song is not an homage to Japanese culture. It is simply an orientalist portrayal of the Greatest Hits of Japanese Culture As (Mis)Understood in the West: there are geisha in vaguely kimono-looking-garments, paper parasols, imagery from the Great Wave off Kanagawa, and a torii. Nothing about it is truly authentic or respectful.
  • This performance was a trainwreck and Katy Perry is a giant racist.

Bolding added for emphasis.

Also it occurred to me that when another culture is “presented” like this and White people like me can immediately recognize everything visually recognized by it, it’s not an homage, it’s the age-old orientalist perspective of that culture being recycled anew.

Perry wasn’t presenting an image of Japan, but an orientalist and racist stereotype of Japan.

(via afro-dominicano)