Here’s a question; what is it about twerking that people, including bougie Black people, find so debasing? Why is a booty shaking to a rhythm regarded as a shameful thing? It’s “ghetto” while belly dancing is “exotic.” It’s “over-sexualizing” while the Tango is “sensual.” Burlesque is a celebrated pastime while folks think it’s past time twerking was done away with by the culture. But why, when it legitimately is part of our culture?
There only seems to be one plausible answer to the above questions; Black women made twerking popular.
Anyway, recently, a video went viral that showed a group of Black women twerking at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, apparently, during the Juneteenth holiday. For some strange reason, a lot of people on social media felt that these women were dishonoring their ancestors by failing to be respectful at—*checks notes*—a location where captured Africans were held in dungeons before being shipped off as property to be bought and sold in the transatlantic slave trade.
The girls were called “ghetto” and “tasteless” and the original poster, khaparisdiorrr on Instagram, made a disparaging comment about Ghana being a “poor a** country” in retaliation.
Going to a castle, slave dungeon in Africa, And shaking your booty is disrespectful, black American sisters is disrespectful to the millions of our ancestors were shipped into slavery, and it should be condemn, pic.twitter.com/P02FKHgcQa
— Don Salmon (@dijoni) June 25, 2023
“How many 27 y/os y’all know traveling 17+ hours to a 3rd world country & experiencing their culture, giving away money to the kids & people in villages with no electricity & running water?!??” she added in response to the backlash, according to NewsOne.
“We gave away more money then [sic] we spent! Gave away clothes, overly tipped but wanna take a 7 second clip & make a huge deal out of it! Talk about the bigger picture!”
“If we was doing them Africans dances would that make y’all feel better? If we was doing the chicken head or the heel toe would that make y’all feel better?!?!” they continued.
As it turns out, the girls were doing those “African dances.”
A simple Google search could have informed any of these blushing respectability politics advocates that twerking is a form of dance that originated in West Africa and is multiple centuries old. This, of course, has often been pointed out by the far more sensible side of Black Twitter where folks aren’t embarrassed because Black American women desecrated a site where Black people were once oppressed. (Seriously, why does anyone GAF that a holding area in a slave trade route was disrespected?)
— the.RAP.y (@worlasigh) February 11, 2021
Truly, twerking started in Ghana precisely from the Volta Region 🇬🇭🔥🥰😅 pic.twitter.com/u3d2ga4geJ
— Kelvin Ashong (@Mawunya_) April 29, 2021
Frankly, I’m not sure why it even needs to be true that twerking is derived from African culture to justify Black American women doing it. Why is it less dignified if it was a creation of Black American women as opposed to a dance that came from the continent? Still, it’s ironic that the dance does originate from the very ancestors the women in the video have been accused of disrespecting.