Black TikTok dance creators are on strike to call out lack of credit

Black TikTok and Twitter gave me so more joy this past weekend with the #BlackTikTokStrike hashtag. Black TikTokers went on strike because they became tired of having their work, specifically their viral choreography for popular songs, stolen and monetized by white TikTokers without credit. An example of this situation was when TikToker Addison Rae appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show several months ago to demonstrate all of the viral dances from TikTok. There was an uproar over the watered down dance moves that Addison recreated without crediting the black originators when she appeared on the show. In response, Jimmy invited the original creators of the dances to his show. Black creators continue to have their moves stolen, so they decided to take a break, for the culture. Below are a few more details from Tech Crunch:

With the release of the video for “Thot Shit,” some Black TikTok creators began calling attention to that exploitation this week, inspiring others to refuse to choreograph a dance to the hit song. The idea behind the movement is that Black artists on the platform create a disproportionate amount of content and culture — much of which is re-packaged and monetized by popular white creators and culture at large.

The song choice probably isn’t a coincidence. The Megan Thee Stallion video is both a playful but important paean to essential workers — twerking grocery, food service and sanitation workers, in this case — and a biting commentary on the wealthy white establishment that exploits their labor without thinking twice.

The “strike” doesn’t have creators leaving the platform or even staying off of the app. Instead, Black creators who might normally contribute dances for the hot new song are sitting back and pointing to what happens when they’re not around. (Predictably: not a lot.)

On the sound’s page, some videos tease choreography but pivot into a statement about how Black creators don’t get their due on the app. In other videos, Black creators watch on in horror at awkward dance attempts failing to fill the void or laugh about how the song’s lyrics are instructional but non-Black TikTok still can’t figure it out.

When reached for comment on the phenomenon, TikTok praised Black creators as a “critical and vibrant” part of the community.

“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

[From Tech Crunch]

Watching the videos of Black creators making fun of how dry TikTok has become over this past week without their creative force on the platform has had me hollering. Obviously this phenomenon is not new in the west. Europeans and their off-spring have been monetizing BIPOC creations without credit for literal centuries. Don’t believe me? Why is Elvis Presley often credited as the father of Rock n Roll when Chuck Berry created the genre AND the moves? Hip Hop was banned from MTV until 1988 but now the best known rappers are white like Macklemore and Eminem (although Em deserves his accolades). Remember the Bo Derek braids controversy? I am proud of these Black TikTokers saying enough is enough. I would also suggest that these platforms like TikTok and Youtube who have created racist algorithms that favor white creators over Black and Brown ones work on making their platforms equitable. Those who work tirelessly should not be robbed of opportunities because they are not the right shade. Good on these Black TikTokers for taking a stand. If I were them, I would not come back until they got their coins! The only downside of this strike is not having a viral dance for Meg Thee Stallion’s “Thot Sh*t” song which is going to be a banger all summer.

Some of the videos that made me laugh:

Some Tweets:

Note by CB: Header image is of TikTok choreographer and dancer, Jalaiah S. Harmon. You can follow her on TikTok here and on Instagram here.

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33 Responses to “Black TikTok dance creators are on strike to call out lack of credit”

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  1. Nomegusta says:

    I’m honestly thoroughly impressed with the coordination I’ve seen on TikTok. Good for them. They way MS ignores these black content creators is so disheartening. And yes, people like Meg Thee Stallion have given credit and a greater platform to the creators of dances that blew up their songs, like Savage, but until they get the MS credit that is due to them, it’s not enough.

  2. girl_ninja says:

    I’m so proud of these young black creators. Watching people mine your talent and get all of the accolades must be maddening for these kids. Taking this stance is so important.

  3. TQ says:

    I am so here for the #BlackTikTokStrike. Give folks their due. So tired of the appropriation.

  4. Lauren says:

    Mad respect to these creators! Not only do they have to suffer mass stealing from white content creators without credit, but also the racist AF algorithms of the apps. Now the app and the white dry crackers can go without black talent until deep changes are made.

    • Steph says:

      The algorithm is absolutely racist as f. I created a tik tok for one reason only: to follow Les Twins. My fyp was still flooded with only white “dancers.” When ppl first started pointing out the algorithm, I purposely went on and added from various threads only Black creators. I literally only follow Black ppl on Tik tok. My fyp is still only white ppl and mostly nothing to do with the type of stuff I follow. It’s insane.

      YouTube is worse. At least with tik tok they can try to say “we only suggest what’s popular, it’s not our fault that it’s all white.” If you play around on YouTube you can absolutely tell that it takes race into account. And it will still do its damndest to push white ppl on you.

      • Christina says:

        Maybe it’s somewhat location based in terms of what it pushes on YouTube? I get at least some suggestions for black content creators, but that might be because I am located in Africa? Even then, I still mainly get African American creators rather than South African ones suggested most of the time, but that probably really is just based on numbers for the videos in question.

      • tealily says:

        Wtf. Not to mention that it isn’t even and effective algorithm if it isn’t showing you things you want to watch!

  5. Snuffles says:

    Bring It On was WAY before it’s time! Seriously, an under appreciated classic.

    • Lemons says:

      Bring It On was not before its time. This has always been happening.

      • Snuffles says:

        That’s not what I was saying AT ALL. I’m saying they are one of the first mainstream movies to
        tackle the subject.

    • Eenie Googles says:

      I mean…I’d argue that Bring it On was 75 years late, but ok.

  6. Jais says:

    This is awesome. Hoping tiktok will do something a lot more than that actionless statement though.

  7. Seaflower says:

    Huge support for the creators #BlackTikTokStrike

  8. sunny says:

    You love to see it! I’m so glad you guys are covering this story because it needs more press attention. This conversation with Tiktok is not a new one and they continue to treat creators of colour badly. It is wonderful to see young black creators remove their cultural/creative labour.

  9. kgeo says:

    Is Tiktok like youtube where you can make money off of your channel?

    • Snuffles says:

      I’m unclear on how they make money but if your channel gets enough followers/subscribers and you content gets enough views you become valuable to businesses because you are viewed as an “influencer”. The more influence you have the more money you can get for hawking products or leverage yourself into other paying gigs.

      In the social media world content is king and it’s a struggle to constantly come up with new engaging material. Hence all the stealing.

    • Onemoretime says:

      They have a Creators Fund where the more popular videos get money from Tic Tok. I often hear creators black ones say Tic Tok removes their videos that have a million views with no explanation so they won’t get their money. Or Tic Tok will shadow ban them and hide their content, even if you are following that page they still hide it. They do all of this to their black creators.
      I am so glad they are on strike, good for them. A few black creators have put out a videos to thot sh!t, but it’s to complicated for the rhythmless.

      • kgeo says:

        Woah. That’s not right. Good for them. Even if it was just for recognition, and maybe parlaying the fame into a non-tik tok gig, I would get the frustration, but this all takes it up a notch.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        Yeah, the creator fund continually screws over black content creators. It’s terrible. And that comment from the TikTok spokesperson is ALL kinds of gaslighting.

  10. Mercury says:

    Glad to see this. Tik Tok which is based in China really hates to see black creators

  11. Kari says:

    I AM HERE FOR IT! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

  12. GrnieWnie says:

    Eminem really does get a pass, doesn’t he? I think it’s because a) he grew up poor around black people in Detroit; b) his mentor was Dr Dre; c) he clearly has some unmatched talent; d) he’s never tried to take credit for things that rappers who came before him did; e) he’s actually helped other black rappers come up. He doesn’t seem like he’s in a “black” genre of music but surrounded by white people.

    Unlike, say, KK acting like Bo Derek invented cornrows. Only for white people!

  13. AnnaC says:

    Most TikToks I see are reposts to IG (which is annoying; if I wanted to watch TikTok’s I’d be on the app, but anyway).
    I read about this over the weekend and started looking in the captions to see if the choreographers were credited. Only one of the super popular white female TikTokr’s included credit. When there were other partners in the video I’d check their pages and no one of them gave credit.

  14. Yawnho says:

    I don’t know about the racist algorithms on tiktok, but everyone steals everyone’s content. I see one funny video, I will like it then I will see the exact same idea 5 more times with different creators. Most of whom I follow there are people of colour, bc I find their shit way funnier. I love that I get the chance to follow some amazing people! It is truly the highlight of my day, and it gives me so much super positive and dead confident energy which is something I’ve never had in my life.

  15. ME says:

    Good for them ! I love this.

  16. Izzy says:

    Good for them. Also, Black Twitter is the very best part of Twitter. Like, even better than Jewish Twitter, which I proudly belong to. We’re a little pissed that our space laser secret was outed.

  17. Green Desert says:

    Good for them, I hope they get the credit they deserve.

    Also, maybe someone could try to explain to Gwen Stefani that this is an example of appropriation and clearly shows why it’s an issue, Jesus Christ.

  18. Mee yo says:

    I must keep reminding people every chance I get, that the Beatles’ manager would come to the States from UK, go to Black clubs, record black artists, take it back to the Beatles and they’d re-record it and sell it. Making Beatles money. Paul McCartney has talked about it, and calls it bringing black music to the people in UK who hadn’t heard it. He ignores the theft. Keep up the strike!!!! How the F is an app designed to be racist??? Black people can’t a break, every effing corner is racism.

    • Yup, Me says:

      I never heard this before (I was already not a Beatles fan)! Thank you for sharing. I will be spreading the word.

  19. Annaloo. says:

    Here we are again!

    Young people — including Olivia Rodrigo : CREDIT YOUR INFLUENCE

    It’s free!

  20. MissySnow says:

    Appropriation of black and brown culture has been going on for centuries, so I am happy to see these young kids saying enough is enough and give us our coins and recognition.

  21. herhighness says:

    good they spoke up about it.
    As the late great James Baldwin said “How much time do you want, for your ‘progress’”?

  22. WTF says:

    Good for them!!!