Racism, Appropriation, and The Harlem Shake

If you aren’t familiar with the Harlem Shake craze that is sweeping the internet, you may have been under a rock for the past week or two.

I’ll let Know Your Meme explain it to you:

Harlem Shake

“Harlem Shake”, not to be confused with the hip hop dance style, is the title of a 2012 heavy bass instrumental track produced by Baauer. In February 2013, the song spawned a series of dance videos that begin with a masked individual dancing alone in a group before suddenly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group.

It all started with this video:

Now there are countless takes on the meme:

The strange thing about this meme is that not a single person in any of the videos seems to actually be doing the Harlem Shake:

And while it all seems like just a bunch of bizarre fun, not everyone feels that way.

The REAL Harlem Shake

Though you wouldn’t know it from the meme, the actual dance known as the Harlem Shake is not where one shakes around as if she or he is having a seizure while humping things and wearing a silly costume.  It is part of the rich tradition of dance and the arts in Harlem.  Dating back to 1981 and drawing upon an Ethiopian dance called the Eskista, the Harlem Shake has long been a staple of hip hop dance in this predominantly African American section of New York.

And some of the folks in Harlem aren’t too happy about the meme:

White Cultural Appropriation

When I’ve pointed that video out to some (White) people who LOVE the meme, though, their reaction has been one of, “They need to relax!  It’s fun! Stop taking yourselves so seriously!”

But if you notice in the videos, the meme is, by in large, a White cultural phenomenon.  That is not to say that there are not some people of Color who are participating in the videos, but it is a meme that stems from White communities and is being pushed in largely White social circles.

And if the meme were called something else (The Baauer, for instance), it likely would just be some harmless fun.  But this meme does not exist in isolation.

It exists within the context of all of the other, countless forms of White cultural appropriation of . . . well . . . everything that is not inherently ours.

The reason that White cultural appropriation is so insidious is that it is not an intentionally racist, but it plays into a system of racism where White people believe that everything is ours, everything is in-bounds to us, so we can take whatever we want, and in doing so, divorce it from its history and meaning.

Take Rock and Roll as an example.  If you were to ask the average person on the street which race they associated with Rock music, they would almost undoubtedly associate it as a White art form.  But in its inception, Rock and Roll was a Black art form.  White record executives saw the profit potential in putting White musicians in front of White audiences playing this Black art form, and Elvis Presley was born.  In time, because Black artists were often denied the opportunity to record and perform their own music at a large scale, people associated the art form almost exclusively with White folks, and the rich African American tradition of the music was lost on the common consumer.

Cultural Appropriation and The Harlem Shake

So what does this have to do with the Harlem Shake meme?  Well, if you were to ask the average White high school student what The Harlem Shake is, are they likely to tell you about its inception as a dance in Harlem in the 1980s and its connection to African dance forms?  No.  They are going to describe YouTube videos where mostly White people are humping the air and flailing around wildly to a Baauer song.

And that’s likely why many of those folks from Harlem aren’t too happy about the meme.  It’s not that they want to kill your fun.  They just know that when White folks get ahold of their art, it becomes something wholly and completely different, much like we’re seeing with this meme.

So before you go making your own take on the meme, consider for just a minute what the folks from Harlem are telling you in that video.

And “Stop that shit.”

For a few tools to help in resisting cultural appropriation like this, check out “Shaking Off the ‘Harlem Shake’ Meme: Tools for Resisting Cultural Appropriation.”

Also check out this panel discussion on The “Harlem Shake” as Blackface that took place at Hamline University.


Update: A Phenomenal Video Response to the Meme:


46 thoughts on “Racism, Appropriation, and The Harlem Shake

  1. Hi,

    I appreciate your concern about white appropriation of the [REAL] “Harlem Shake” popularized by Diddy and others. I can see why some people are making claims this is another example of blackness being co-opted by whiteness in the “Harlem Shake” viral videos. I am concerned about cultural appropriation. But there is another lens to view these videos. Allow me to complicate your connection of appropriation and open up space to view these cultural productions.

    1. What is in a name?
    The name of the “Harlem Shake” is the name of the song by DJ Baauer AND a dance popularized by P. Diddy in the 1990’s. They share the same name but they are not the same. Diddy is a Hip-Hop mogul and Baauer is in the UK electronic/dance movement DJ. Diddy is a millionaire that broadcasted his videos and brand for cultural and (meaningful) economic gain. Diddy made a lot of money from his “Harlem Shake.” Baauer offered his “Harlem Shake” song as a free digital download. Baauer didn’t make money although he is gaining cultural popularity. I assume that in order for this to be a white appropriation of the [REAL] “Harlem Shake” that the lead dancer(s) in the “Harlem Shake” videos are trying to imitate Diddy’s [REAL] “Harlem Shake.” We would have to assume that these folks saw P. Diddy’s “Harlem Shake” then are (un)intentionally making a mockery of his moves. I think the lead dancer(s) are not trying to repeat and claim ownership over Diddy’s “Harlem Shake” or Harlem, USA. The lead dancer(s) in the viral “Harlem Shake” videos more closely resemble the “Bernie Lean”/”Moving Like Bernie” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnT1YNbZ-_U. Some of the leads are air humping or shaking (for the lack of a better term) than trying to replicate Diddy’s “Harlem Shake”. (Let us not forget that even the “Bernie Lean” borrows from the late Bernie Mac’s (RIP) dance/movement in the “Kings of Comedy” routine. I don’t see us upset about that. I’m sure the Bernie Mac estate isn’t getting profits from that song/dance either.) There is a mass appeal to the “Harlem Shake” video. Why is that the case?

    2. Going Viral
    Your position ignores that “going viral” is a world wide cultural concept/term. In other words, “going viral” is a thing to aspire to in our digital age. (There are entire shows whose content is based off of digital uploads and home videos. By the nature of those TV shows, these videos have “gone viral”.) People are drawn to make a “Harlem Shake” video because it presents a classic formula; 31 seconds of the same clip of Baauer’s (not Diddy’s) “Harlem Shake”, recognizable space (home, kitchen, bus stop, dorm room, swimming pool), digital camera or webcam, people (Asian grandmothers, toddlers, Frat boys, swim teams), props (spatulas, helmets, office desk, uni-cycle), and an internet connection to YouTube. Its cheap and accessible to produce without Hollywood financing or Tyler Perry Productions, for example. The excitement we are witnessing is taking this formula and adding something creative within the last 15 seconds. The producers of these videos recruit people, gather props, (re-)record, edit, and upload it with a familiar title. I can imagine it is a fun time for those involved in seeing the amount of hits of their version on YouTube. (It looks like they are having a good time.) At this moment we can imagine that recruiting the people may reflect the community around their producers. A college frat on a PWI probably will have mostly white boys. Or a frat at Howard U will probably have black boys. For instance, the Shaytards uses their family members (Mom, Dad, and four kids) in their version. The Shaytards have their own group of family videos on YouTube and recently added their “Harlem Shake”. In other videos, folks use their office space. Some of the videos seem to have only whites but others only have blacks, Asians and sometimes we can’t “tell”. I don’t think these producers are trying to act or pretend like they are actually in Harlem, USA or pretend that they are authentic [REAL] Harlem residents. They are being themselves in their space.

    3. Harlem World
    Harlem is in New York but also in the world. Harlem, per say, doesn’t begin and end within New York City. Diddy helped the world to understand that. Remember “HARLEM WORLD!?” Diddy blasted that to us through our speakers and TV’s regardless if we were “in” the Midwest, Brazil, or London. I think the gentrification of Harlem is a concern but Harlem never completely belonged to us (people of color) residents. The feeling of Harlem has borders and is borderless via its impact on the world. That is why Harlem World has been and is so powerful. We can all visit it as a geographic and cultural space. Harlem residents that have a Harlem postal address and the rest of us own a piece of Harlem, USA. These videos are not trying to capitalize on as a Harlem US postal address or the culture of HARLEM WORLD. These viral videos are doing something different from HARLEM WORLD. That fact gets lost in your position of whites (?) taking what belongs to blacks (?). We have evidence of that happening like in Jazz, southern cooking, language of “Honey Boo-Boo”, and Hottentot Venus’ impact on fashion (wedding dress bustles). This “Harlem Shake” situation is different.

    4. Fun to Watch
    I find these videos are fun to watch because they predictable but surprising. The first 15 seconds I get to take in the set, dance moves, and who is around pretending nothing is happening. At second 16 I’m tickled to see how everyone contributes. There is a baby in the trashcan jamming out. There is a random unicycle. There is a grandmother losing her balance. There is an entire swim team underwater. At second 16 the swimmers are jamming out underwater complete with air bubbles. It is unpredictable yet predictable. The most popular “Harlem Shake” videos gives us 31 seconds of fun not a cultural theft of HARLEM WORLD.

    In this case, whites (?) are NOT taking something that belongs to blacks (?) and making money and claiming ownership. We should pay attention to how race plays in the producers of these videos, who views them and what is “Means.” Even that project is much more complex to figure out the meaning or multiple meanings.

    I think the shelf life of “Harlem Shake” videos probably expired as I was writing this response. I’m sure there is another YouTube sensation waiting to take over. Thank you for opening up a space to present another view.

    • Thanks for your response.

      I disagree that appropriation must involve intentional or unintentional mocking of the original thing they are appropriating (in this case what you call Diddy’s Harlem Shake – though you should know that this is not Diddy’s but is much bigger and wider than that). To name something one thing but then completely divorce it from its history is a pretty damn effective way to appropriate. It also does not have to be connected to profit to be appropriative (though the Rock N Roll example I used was connected to profit). When White folks divorce shamanism or dread locks or hip hop dance from their roots in racial and ethnic expression, we are appropriating, even if no one ever makes a dime from our appropriation.

      I do not believe anyone is trying to pretend that they are in Harlem or are even connected to Harlem as a cultural center or a neighborhood. Instead, as I noted, the meme (which may have spread to people of many races but was originally very much a meme in White culture and spaces) divorces the words “Harlem Shake” from their intended meaning with regards to the dance.

      I think the fact that so many folks are quick to ignore or write off the concerns of the actual residents of Harlem about the appropriation of “Harlem Shake” is indicative of the very problem in a White supremacist system: we can take whatever we want and use it for our own purposes, and when those we steal from object, we call them oversensitive or we just ignore their concerns altogether. That is precisely what Adrienne over at http://www.NativeAppropriations.com gets all the time, and the parallels here are notable.

      • I have to wonder how much context the people in the video were given (as much as we having this conversation have the benefit of having?). I think there’s a big difference between “here’s a bunch of people doing the “Harlem Shake,” and “here’s a bunch of people doing the dance they saw in a music video called “Harlem Shake.” To me,It’s the difference between “these people are mocking my culture,” and, “wow, these people have no idea what the actual “Harlem Shake” even is.”

        As a rabbinical student, I’m fascinated with the way that “bar mitzvah” has gone from “a 4000 year old tradition marking an adolescent’s transition and welcoming into the world of Jewish text study and adult responsibilities” to “a lavish party where we celebrate wealth and power (and our child’s 13th birthday).” Admittedly, much of this has to do with the way that the tradition has been skewed internally (i.e., by approval-seeking Jews), but there are many instances of non-Jewish families throwing “bar mitzvah” parties. There’s a clip going around the Jewish blogosphere lately from TLC’s “The Sisterhood,” a new reality show about pastors’ wives. One of the families profiled is preparing for their son’s 13th birthday party/”bar mitzvah.” The father, who was raised Jewish, but is now a Christian minister, dances in wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and singing “Hava Nagila.” The mom speaks about how in her research, she learned that “the cake is to be indicative of the Torah.” The father suggests “bringing together his Jewish heritage and Christian faith” by putting “Christ in the Torah.”

        While many are upset about this, I would agree with Rabbi Jason Miller’s take on it at the Huffington Post (Google “jason miller christian bar mitzvah”): “…when I was a child, and my father would let me borrow his tools. If you’re going to use my hammer, he would say, let me first show you how to use it correctly. But does borrowing something mean the borrower has to use it the same way the lender does? Shouldn’t everyone have the right to determine which religious rituals they want to use from other faiths and have the ability to put their own spin on them without criticism? As uncomfortable as that may make some of us, I think the answer is yes.”

      • violetbuckle@hotmail.com

        I don’t see at as white appropriation so much as cultural influences coming into contact and influencing one another. There are no NEW ideas. Ideas are always stolen and reproduced by artists, fashion designers, and musicians. They take a peace of the original work and make it their own.
        One of the places where this is no longer allowed is the music industry. People can no longer even take a snippet of a sample to create an entirely different work of art without facing copyright infringement. That has led to stagnation and financial ruin in the music industry…not to mention the crappiest music I have heard in generations.

        When I was three to four years old I was fascinated with B-boy culture, hip-hop, the style of music, the fashion, the linguistics of rap, and the art that came out of B-boy culture and Harlem. Never-mind that I was a little white kid living in the suburbs…I thought B-boy culture was cool. I had no understanding of white appropriation I simply liked to dance and appreciated break dancing and hip hop as an art form.

        Seems to me that because I wanted to be a B-girl, I wasn’t appropriating Harlem culture…I wished that I could become part of it rather than be separate from it.

      • I love this conversation, and have a few thoughts:
        1. It seems that this was an issue far before the meme: if the title and dance have been transformed in the mainstream’s eyes over the last 13+ years, is it really about this meme at all? It seems that this controversy is about the devolution of this dance and the subsequent misnomer of the song, rather than the viral meme itself.
        2. The general idea that we are comparing this to white people painting their faces black, to me, trivializes the arguably large disparity between these two acts! In some way that whole argument feels like it diminishes the very serious offense of “blackface”, and I wonder if we’re really doing anyone any favors.

      • Cultural appropriation is normal and ubiquitous throughout history. I don’t understand the problem. Of course you take whatever you want and use it for your own purposes. Its like your totally cuturally ignorant. This history of culture is nothing more than the history of stealing ideas. And stealing them badly.

        The other thing is that you don’t make it clear why blacks copying blacks is somehow ok but whites can’t copy blacks. Or why race should have anything to do with it. You bring the concept of authencity into it. That’s really really bad. Culture thrives on BAD copying…not authentic copying. Because bad copies and mixing result in cultural innovation. And its almost always the case that the copiers of ZERO idea of the original reasons the source culture is the way it is.

        The Harlem Shake itself was derived from an Ethopian dance. The Ethopians might make the exact same comments about the real Harlem Shake as the people in your video make about the fake Shake. After all how many people in Harlem understand Ethopian culture.

  2. Without delving too much into the history of the Harlem Shake, which has been amply covered here and in many other places, I have to say that I think attention is being misplaced. The kids (and, for the most part, this would seem to be a meme perpetuated by high schoolers and college students) are not jumping on the viral video bandwagon because of the cultural cachet that Harlem holds in American culture.

    That would be the work of Bauuer, who, after all, is the artist who named his song “Harlem Shake,” and promoted it with a music video featuring a dancer doing a dance which is not the Harlem Shake. This dance became popular with teens because they enjoyed its exuberance and lack of required skill. The viral videos gained popularity because teens enjoy the humor of the random and unexpected, which many of these videos pull off expertly (come on; Spider-Man in the fire truck? Amazing!). These teens would love this video concept whether the song were called the Nebraska Basketweave or the Plus Plus or some other ridiculousness (remember Numa Numa guy?).

    I’d love to know what Bauuer has to say about why he chose the name “Harlem Shake,” but I think the buck has to stop there.

    • Hey, Jake,

      I think you are right that the original appropriation was that of Baauer, but I do not think that means that we can let White folks off the hook when we take part in cultural appropriation. While it is not done with malice (usually the opposite, as we are appropriating because we like something), cultural appropriation still is insidious in the way that it adds to the constant micro aggressions that people of Color experience in the U.S..

      • I find this comment and reply to be particularly resonant. Correct me if I’m wrong: P Diddy had something to do with transforming the image of this dance? If so, then doesn’t this possibly go beyond racism to a conversation about classism, SES or appropriation of minority cultures beyond race?

      • Mo, considering that Diddy is from Harlem, and his use of the Shake was reflective of it as a dance and cultural tradition IN Harlem, it’s hard to argue that he had anything to do with divorcing it from its roots. He simply brought it out to more mainstream culture. That is not nearly the same thing as White folks appropriating the name for the purpose of a meme…

      • Thanks for the clarification. I thought that he (P. Diddy) changed the dance itself, rather than maintaining its authenticity. Taking anything that is important from a subset population (location, etc.) and mainstreaming is going to invariably result in appropriation, right? Mainstreaming something brings it to the majority’s attention, whatever that mainstream majority looks like in that context. I wonder if it’s any less offensive if the dance is authentic to its form in Harlem, NY.

        I recognize that my perspective is biased by my own lens, which is that of a white, highly educated millennial feminist. I know I can’t speak for others on this one, I can only posit ideas. If the issue is the silencing or “bastardization” (sorry, I don’t like that word) of Harlem’s culture, then I don’t really know, nor does anyone else that lacks local knowledge. I do think it’s interesting that this whole thing draws more attention to Harlem then I’ve heard in a long time.

  3. STOP THAT SHIT! Thank you.

  4. http://www.thefader.com/2013/02/15/fader-explains-harlem-shake/

    we can’t cry “racism!” or “cultural appropriation!” every time we see something that uses a phrase. all it will do is annoy most people. how about “that’s hilarious!!! (which the videos ARE, don’t lie) did you know the history of the actual dance? here’s a link that explains the origin of the song in the video, and also here’s a video that explains the dance from Ethiopia (featuring some ADORABLE kids dancing)!

    honey > vinegar.

  5. Reblogged this on Parker O'Reilly and commented:
    Racism, Appropriation, and The Harlem Shake – a must read!

  6. So when are you posting your thoughts on the blatant bigotry that is the Wu Tang Clan? After reading your thoughts on a month long YouTube fad’s racial and cultural negative connotations, I can confidently assume that the exploitation of another’s culture is only made more despicable when done for profit! I see no similarities in the often obscene rap stylings of the Wu to the centuries old art of Kung Fu that is so deeply rooted in Asian culture. I suspect that the men that have spent their lives mastering this art no more want to be associated with Old Dirty Bastard than the residents of Harlem want such an integral part of their own existence to be linked to a PG rated Internet fad. Racism is everywhere. Some choose to spend their unoppressed lives looking for it. The rest of us laugh and roll our eyes at the ones that do.

    • Sonny,

      If the Wu Tang Clan were a relavant and powerful force in popular culture, there would be cause to write a blog post about their appropriation of Kung Fu.

      However, I think it is important to draw a distinction between appropriation by White folks within the system of White Supremacy upon which this country was built and within which our country still operates and appropriation by folks of Color. One is part of a larger system of oppression while the other is not.

  7. As an African-American man who was born and raised in Harlem, you need to realize that you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s fun–get over it. Anyone and everyone who makes this out to be more than that, is lacking in their abilities to have fun themselves. It’s clear that if this dance were called “The Bauuer, for instance” you would still make a connection to racism and White appropriation and post some over-analyzed ramblings where at no point you touch the surface of offering any solutions, per-usual.

    • Chris,

      I appreciate the comment. I think it is important to hear varied perspectives from folks from Harlem, as the video above definitely portrays a perspective different from yours.

      That said, when it comes to exposing a system of White Supremacy, I believe that part of the solution is exposing the ways in which Whiteness is centered as normal and White Supremacy is manifested in big and small ways. Making White folks aware is half the battle.

      • You’re right, Chris. It is important to hear varied perspectives. This article is biased. Do you honestly believe EVERY person interviewed had that reaction? OF COURSE NOT! They selected the footage that supported the side they wanted the reader to take.

      • You’re right. It’s probably better to discuss sampling bias than to discuss the heart of the matter: White cultural appropriation as a tool of White supremacy.

  8. You are utterly missing the point. This isn’t racist nor is it “white appropriation”. You have forgotten one of the rules of the internet:

    *On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.*

    Not only do they not know, they don’t even *care* because it’s entirely irrelevant to the _exchange of ideas and information_.

    The Internet doesn’t care if you’re black, or white, or yellow, or green for that matter. Everyone is equalized and the only racism in there is what you brought with you when you logged on. Seizing on the idea that since you saw a video with some white people in it doing something and deciding that white people are somehow stealing something, is *madness*. You’re overlooking that the majority of _internet users_ doing the videos do not give one single f**k what color anyone else in any of the videos is–because it *does not matter*.

  9. So when the Italians put sauce on noodles is it the appropriation of Asian culture? What about when fried chicken and waffles is described as soul food and accredited to African Americans with no credit given to the Belgians? Are the Harlem Globetrotters appropriating a game invented by James Naismith, a white Canadian? I also find amusing the fact that the original shake is being portrayed as so esteemed and central to African American culture. I am almost certain that the dougie, stanky leg, superman, the Bernie (appropriated from weekend at Bernie’s), can all be traced back to their cultural roots. We must protect these cultural masterpieces. The bottom line, lighten up.

    • Appropriation involves a disproportionate power relation from one group to the other.The dominant group consumes voraciously (labor, dances, people, ideas, culture, almost everything) and the exploited group tries to survive despite this consumption. The examples you describe do not have this uneven power relation. If this was the only example of appropriation ever, we could all just “lighten up” and be just fine but every act of appropriation is another widening of the power relation.

  10. The article did make some valid points but so did other fellow commentors but I do not fully agree with the article. I am black and I honestly thought the Harlem Shake was around when Lil Bowwow was in Like Mike. I didn’t know that it went back even further and I bet most people younger than me (I’m 23) don’t either.

    Is there a problem with the videos because it is mainly whites that do the dance (Wayne Brady and TPain do have their videos). Is that why Teach Me How To Dougie was acceptable because it was by blacks? If the Baauer’s Harlem Shake video came out and it was done by blacks would we even have this conversation? What I pulled away from the article was that the issue isn’t with the changing of the dance but changing of the dance by white people. Yes that might be bad but isn’t it worse that there are to many African Americans/blacks that do not know the history behind songs and dances. I saw so many blacks and whites “plank” but I don’t think either one truly knew the meaning. So which is worse, not knowing your own culture or not knowing someone else culture? When you truly know who you are, where you come from, and what you stand for no one can take that away from you. This is why the dance doesn’t bother me. If the worst people are doing is making these videos then we have come a long way from our parents and grandparents eras.

    Also, when a black person takes the National Anthem and adds “soul” to it. (I actually hate it… just sing the dang song) Are whites allowed to be upset, state the historical facts, and point to the ethnicity of the composer/writer? Or is the artist just using their 1st Amendment right and using their artistic liberties? Marvin Gaye did it and I believe Queen Latifah did as well.

    • Julianne,

      Thank you for your comment! In my understanding, whether it is White people or people of Color not knowing history that is outside of the White mainstream, both stem from White Supremacy. It serves the system of White Supremacy for people of any identity not to know history that exists outside of the dominant power structure.

      As to your note about the National Anthem, Rog says it well above:
      “Appropriation involves a disproportionate power relation from one group to the other.The dominant group consumes voraciously (labor, dances, people, ideas, culture, almost everything) and the exploited group tries to survive despite this consumption. The examples you describe do not have this uneven power relation. If this was the only example of appropriation ever, we could all just “lighten up” and be just fine but every act of appropriation is another widening of the power relation.”

      It is not, in fact, the same thing when someone from a marginalized or oppressed group changes or uses something from the dominant power majority. There is no danger that the National Anthem would lose its history and original meaning and intent if Marvin Gaye sings it “soulfully.” In fact, his act of doing so is only likely to be marginalized by the majority, “Why can’t he sing it right!?” On the other hand, when those in the dominant majority appropriate from a marginalized or oppressed group, there is a great danger that the original will lose its connection to origin and meaning.

      • Intolerance for intolerance doesn’t solve anything, end of story. There are a hell of a lot of things in this world that to me, you have to be a pretty freaking amazing person to be able to comprehend in a way where you can talk about it like this. At the end of the day, it’s in our best interests to try and understand those we encounter in our lives and to find ways to live harmoniously with them. What happens on a larger, cultural level is what will happen based on the world we are in and the ebb and flow of systems as they operate in the environment they are given.

        That means I care less whether you are in the majority or minority – I care about learning about the person as a person and what their intentions are. I won’t go around attributing societal problems to individual people for things that are much, much larger than most of us can ever truly understand, let alone change. And if you are someone who really is contributing to the problem, I’m not going to do the reverse either and say it’s because of a societal problem we had in the past. Because to be honest, I have no idea and I think it’s a stretch for anyone else to say they truly do too.

  11. […] breakdown the History of the Harlem Shake, and to write articles about cultural misappropriation (here, here, and here)I feel no need to go down that path. Instead, I want to discuss allyhood in […]

  12. […] Join the event on Facebook. Originally appeared at Change From Within /* Filed Under: Ethics & Values, Featured Content Tagged With: Baauer, Eskista, […]

  13. […] about the problems with, dangers in, and hurt that stems from cultural appropriation like that of the Harlem Shake meme (shout outs to Dr. Daniel White Hodge, Mia Jackman, DJ Francisco, Chris McQuire, Mariah Kenya […]

  14. […] is a black dance, from a black city, which like many other dance and music forms, has been rudely co-opted by white America, who in turn, pass it off as their own, allowing the original meaning, intent, and […]

  15. Thanks for the article. As a white person, from now on I’ll make sure to never “appropriate” something that originated from black culture. From now on, black people can have their dances and white people can have their own, as well. Is this separate but equal? I hope my sarcasm comes across loud and clear. Relax.

  16. […] meme that has since run its course.  I was invited to speak after publishing a piece called “Racism, Appropriation, and the Harlem Shake.”  The panel inspired me to write “Shaking Off the ‘Harlem Shake’ Meme: […]

  17. […] prior to its inclusion on Glee, at which point I was forced to look into it. Much like Glee itself, the appropriation of this dance is racist. So there’s […]

  18. Wow, most of these really ignorant comments just make the point.

  19. […] sweat lodges, Western (White) Buddhist sanghas, poorly choreographed and executed Zumba classes, the Harlem Shake, or that Blues that is really White rock and […]

  20. […] breakdown the History of the Harlem Shake, and to write articles about cultural misappropriation (here, here, and here) I feel no need to go down that […]

  21. […] different versions of the video, perhaps going further to read critiques of the video or the appropriation of the song and dance. But the whole experience is no more than a […]

  22. […] effect during 2013 and 2014 seems to be shaping up as much of the same. From the resurgence and complete bastardization of the “Harlem Shake” to Miley Cyrus going from having “never heard a Jay-Z song” to twerking her way to […]

  23. […] by white people. But then again, that’s how this country likes its hip hop, ramen, tacos, and Harlem Shake. So its par for the […]

  24. Don’t you mean Japanese-American cultural appropriation? Don’t go blaming white people on this.

  25. […] writer put it this […]

Comments are closed.