Primarily, the app has been a hub for Black dance creators like Keara Wilson, who created the viral “Savage” dance. It became a jumping off point for her to grow her following and visibility, and she is not the only Black creative who has seen major success on the app.
Still, one of Challan’s most viral (and controversial) moments was when she posted a video saying, “When you walk in the function and ain’t no Black people,” and she and her friends walked away. She received hate for this video, but it spoke to a deeper issue of safety for Black people.
For the record, the Black Tik Tok strike goes deeper than Megan Thee Stallion. Although the app was responsible for blowing up songs like “Savage” and “WAP,” there is a greater responsibility to call out the anti-Blackness perpetuated within the app (see below).
Moreover, the strike is not meant to be a blow Megan but instead a powerful response to racism within the Tik Tok app. Megan has released a song of the summer (potentially), and Black Tik Tok creators refused to dance to it on an app that has made billions from dances. That’s a statement.
Really, this all started with the renegade.
After a New York Times article was published about Harmon, it forced a conversation about crediting Black creators for their work. Historically, this has been a problem. “In February 1953, Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton released ‘Hound Dog’, a blues record that spent 14 weeks on the chart,” according to Daniela Espinosa, who wrote for Rare Radar.
Afterward, it became his biggest classic, but Big Mama’s name was not attached to it. This became common practice in the music industry with artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars being forced to take action to rectify their wrongs. Sheeran is still in court fighting the $100 million lawsuit from the family of Marvin Gaye for his song “Thinking Out Loud,” while Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson gave The Gap Band writing credits for their smash hit “Uptown Funk.”
Rae is a White Tik Tok star who has gone viral for using viral dances that were created by Black people, and it’s made her millions. BBC reported that, “Rae made nearly $5m (£3.6m) from TikTok in 2020 alone, getting views from videos she made recreating dances from black choreographers. Although her exact earnings are unknown, according to one estimate Jalaiah made about $38,000 the same year from the app.”
Given these discrepancies, the strike is warranted. However, it was not just about the dances. It was also about the way Tik Tok treats race. Last year, there was a Tik Tok blackout during the protests because of allegations that Tik Tok was suppressing videos related to the protests.
Tik Tok has apologized for this, said Insider, but these incidents keep resurfacing. So, is it time to divest in Tik Tok? Share your thoughts in the comments below. ~ℝ