TikToker Calls BS On White Users Stealing Dances From Black Creators Without Giving Credit
A problem as old as time continues to happen even on modern platforms.
April 01, 2020 at 6:02 pm
For as long as America has existed, Black people have had their work and art stolen. The trend dates back to when innovations by Black people were routinely stolen by white slave owners who erased any memory of their true creators.
This trend has continued throughout America's history, due in no small part to the fact that for hundreds of years Black people were explicitly not allowed to hold patents for their ideas, essentially leaving them powerless against white inventors who used their ideas to make millions.
In music, Black musicians routinely had their work stolen by white artists who claimed credit for their songs. Legendary musician Ray Charles addressed this openly when he spoke about Elvis Presley.
Ray Charles put Elvis Presley in his place… I love Black people haha ✊???? pic.twitter.com/cAhGmWsKHF
— LJ (@fortunatelyljm) March 10, 2020
Elvis stole this song and never gave credit but Big Mama Thornton killed it so hard the truth was bound to be told a century later.
She was born on this day may she rest in peace.
— disco ric (@RicWilson) December 11, 2019
A Netflix documentary released in 2019 chronicled how the writer of The Lion Sleeps Tonight was completely shut out of any royalties for the song.
There was also controversy over hit TV shows Living Single and Friends which were created within a year of each other and had marked similarities. Friends actor David Schwimmer was forced to apologize after saying they should make an "all-Black" version of the sitcom, which incensed many Living Single cast members and fans.
The trend has now popped back into the public spotlight thanks to Black TikTok users calling out the platform for allowing white users to routinely steal their content and capitalize off of it without giving any credit to the original creators.
Since everyone has been quarantined at home, the use of TikTok has skyrocketed with people creating and performing fun dances or challenges on the platform.
An avid TikTok user, @mattsafeen on Twitter, went viral on Tuesday when he called out the platform and white users who racked up millions of views performing the massively popular "Savage" dance that has taken over TikTok and other platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The dance, created by @keke.janajah, is now popular among white users on the platform, yet none of them have given her credit for creating the dance.
YOOOOO LMAOOO https://t.co/zOpyPO4AfO
— matt ‼️ (@mattsafeen) April 1, 2020
In his post, he noted that @keke.janajah was only able to get about 500,000 likes while other, less talented white dancers accumulated millions of likes and were featured ahead of her in TikTok's search tab.
"All of those videos were above this girl's video. More views, more likes, comments, all of it. There was not one @ to this girl, no dance credits. Nothing. Y'all just took her s**t, ran with it, got likes, got y'all views, got y'all money. And that's it. Damn. Can y'all come up with something else? Always stealing," he said in the video.
The video was shared thousands of times and viewed by millions, many of whom echoed his sentiment and complained that other platforms did similar things to Black creators.
The fact that white people stealing things from Black people has been going on since slavery and it just adapts to modern times SENDS ME! ???? pic.twitter.com/2VxyCuXnIm
— Zendaya fan forever (@Alec4274) April 1, 2020
This is not the first time TikTok has faced controversy with Black creators. In February, Jalaiah Harmon, the 14-year-old dancer behind the Renegade dance, began to receive recognition after an article was published in The New York Times identifying her as the creator.
Other Black TikTok users have also complained about their work being stolen.
— Thaddeus (@ItsHippyPotter) April 1, 2020
@mattsafeen went on to highlight another dance craze, the "Captain Hook" challenge, that had been stolen by white TikTok users showing just how common the trend was.
— matt ‼️ (@mattsafeen) April 1, 2020
There were thousands of comments on @mattsafeen's video with one user noting that Black dancers have been going through this for years on apps like Dubsmash.
Get em Black tik tok! pic.twitter.com/tgnlrahjgF
— RISE UP WORKING CLASS (@AFlyBlackCommie) April 1, 2020
Hopefully, these Black TikTok stars will receive the credit they deserve.