Twerking represents the sexual freedom modern women enjoy.
We see ladies all around expressing their femininity through sensuality, and it's totally acceptable to find women--especially women of color--twerking whenever and wherever they feel the urge.
Twerking at Walmart
Twerking at Restaurants
Twerking on Coffins
Twerking at Stadiums
And now one of the latest statements--Twerking at Washington.
I've honestly never thought much about twerking.
But when Black Lives Matter promoted a Twerking at Washington compilation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had to pause. Is this really what the Civil Rights Movement was about--booty shaking? Are African Americans achieving freedom through their sensuality, or are we simply playing into an old stereotype?
It didn't seem like the black community appreciated the twerking video.
It received a flurry of negative remarks that berated Black Lives Matter for steeping so low. But may seem like a lapse in judgement speaks to a deeper sickness that plagues the black community today--THOT culture.
ARE WE BEING CELEBRATED OR DEGRADED?
Singer and Songwriter Jim Morrison once said, " whoever controls the media controls the mind." 90% of media today is owned by only 6 major companies. There are Black-centered programs, TV shows, magazines and news outlets, but Black people still don't own or run Black media.
They have little to no control over how they are portrayed.
They have little control over who is promoted.
So when we see Black women being praised for their hyper-sexuality--Meg the Stallion, Mulatto, Sukihana, Cardi B., Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, Lizzo--what we forget is that were playing into a common trope. Sexualization of black people stems back to slavery but it still exists now.
The Black women who entertained musically and sexually on plantations are still here. They made a lot of money for their master then, and they make a lot of money for the record labels that exploit them today.
The enslaved women who birthed child workers on breeding farms are alive today. Impoverished single mothers who bare more kids than affordable, have a good portion of their children coparented by Prisons-- a system that willingly takes people in for free labor.
Although we see tokens of success—Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey, Shonda Rhymes— their success creates an allusion of progress for the black community. These highly successful individuals give African Americans a hope of achieving the "American Dream." But what we still don't see is actual material improvement for Black communities, Black commerce, Black wealth or beauty standards that make women of color feel accepted.
Whether or not we recognize it, the tropes that were active during the Civil War, are still active. African Americans have yet to reach the freedom that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of, so we can not conflate the ability to twerk, with social progress.
Still don't believe me? Let’s look at the stats:
*A typical white family has 8 times the wealth of a black family and 5 times the wealth of a typical Latino family.
*African American women are imprisoned twice as much as white women.
*African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
*In 2016 only 29% of African Americans were married compared to 48% of all Americans.
*50% of African Americans have never been married compared to 33% of all Americans.
*After the civil war African Americans held 0.05% of national wealth. Today they only hold 1.5% of all national wealth.
Let's not be fooled, there is still work to do.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
Every woman has the freedom and right to express themselves, but we get into serious trouble when we look to pop culture to determine our worth and value. The issue is worst for black people, because the messages being portrayed about African Americans are for their demise.
So then how do people of color gain a healthy sense of self worth and learn to thrive in a society that is against them? In my following article I'll share my personal beliefs on the ways people of color can progress despite a society that is against them.
In the meantime, leave your thoughts and comments below, and stay tuned for upcoming articles that are dropping next week. Be sure to follow me on social media for the latest updates, and sign up for my weekly email so you never miss an article. Talk soon!