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Black TikTok Creators Go On 'Strike' To Protest Appropriation Of Dance Trends
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Black TikTok Creators Go On 'Strike' To Protest Appropriation Of Dance Trends

Some Black TikTok creators have refused to choreograph moves to a new song in order to demonstrate how important they are to the platform and how their work has been co-opted by white creators.

Megan Thee Stallion's new song "Thot Shit" has all the hallmarks of a smash summer dance hit, and some of her previous hits, such as "Body" and "Savage," have served as soundtracks for viral TikTok dance trends created by Black creatives.

However, no viral dance has emerged since the June 11 release of “Thot Shit,” which even outlines moves in the lyrics.

The so-called #BlackTikTokStrike is not calling for users to leave the app or even stop posting content; rather, some Black creators who might normally contribute choreography for the new hit said they were sitting this one out to emphasize how important they are to the platform.

Since then, viral compilations of dance attempts by non-Black creators have surfaced online, and they have been panned as uninspired.

Material created by Black artists has routinely been used without credit by white TikTok users. Earlier this year, Jimmy Fallon sparked outrage when social media star Addison Rae appeared on “The Tonight Show” to perform a variety of TikTok viral routines without crediting the original choreographers, the majority of whom were people of color. Fallon later hosted the original creators in response.

“In my opinion, this strike is long overdue,” said Kahlil Greene, a TikTok creator and history major who was elected Yale’s first Black student body president in 2019, in an explainer about the strike posted on his Instagram and TikTok accounts.

Greene, who posts videos on social media educating hundreds of thousands of followers about Black culture and history, among other topics, said the refusal of Black users to create a dance was in response to being "undervalued and uncredited on TikTok."

This post was shared by Kahlil Greene (@kahlil.greene) on Instagram.

Erick Louis, a 21-year-old TikTok content creator and dancer with over 230,000 followers, was one of the dancers who boycotted "Thot Shit," and his video about it was viewed over 700,000 times on Twitter and 400,000 times on TikTok.

“Similar to how Black people have always had to galvanize, riot, and protest to get their voices heard off the app, that same dynamic is displayed on TikTok,” he told The New York Times.

The strike is the latest development in a long-running battle for Black creators to receive their dues on the platform, not only from fellow influencers but also from the business itself. Some have criticized TikTok for failing to fairly compensate creators when compared to other platforms, such as YouTube. Black creators in particular have previously accused TikTok of suppressing their content by demonetizing it.

TikTok said in a late-Tuesday statement that it values its social media community's creators.

“TikTok is a special place because of the diverse and inspiring voices of our community, and our Black creators are a critical and vibrant part of this,” a TikTok spokesperson told Stardia in an email.

The spokesperson also mentioned a company blog post from last week outlining the company's efforts to support Black creators.

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