Social Media and Cultural Appropriation

By Kimberly Johnson

Over the past few months a dance called the Renegade has been all over social media, particularly TikTok. When the dance made the switch over to TikTok from Dubsmash, credit to the creator did not come along with it. However, over the course of the past several days the creator of the dance has gotten her due credit. Her name is Jalaiah Harmon, a Black 14-year-old girl from Atlanta, Georgia. In an interview for The New York Times she shared how frustrating it was that her dance was being shared so widely and posted largely by white TikTok users without any credit given to her.

Jalaiah Harmon’s experience fall in line with hundreds of years of Black culture being appropriated with little to no credit in the U.S. For a little girl who loves dance and attends numerous dance classes, a viral dance video could mean access to opportunities that would help her dance dreams come true. Though she is getting the credit she deserves now, many Black creators do not ever get credit for their content. Even further, their content is frequently stolen by white creators who then use it to go viral, a phenomenon that can be extremely advantageous in an increasingly social-media oriented society.