Welcome to the wonderful world of twerking, White people. I’m so happy that you’ve finally joined us Negroes— albeit a few decades too late. Better late than never. Now before you get too comfortable, I need y’all to cease and desist with efforts to colonize my preferred method of dancing (once that gin gets in my system and someone pole becomes my victim).
I don’t have anything against Billy Ray Cyrus’ kid, but it’s frustrating as hell to see fairest skinned America crown her captain of the twerk team. We already have a Twerk Team and their thigh muscles been putting in work. Like cute for Miley Cyrus donning a unicorn suit and twerking something for the cell phone camera, but why is she getting national headlines for something many of us have been doing for what feels like forever?
One mainstream publication gave it this header: “Twerk it, girl! Miley Cyrus shows off her pop star training as she pulls off tricky dance routine while wearing a unicorn onesie”
Y’all know damn well if Raven-Symoné did the same thing it would not be cause for celebration. Plus, Ryan Seacrest tried the absolute hell out of it when he told the artist formally known to our nieces as Hannah Montana on his radio show, “It [twerking] is weird [but] weird is mainstreaming now.” Umm, “Weird?!”
Seacrest went on to acknowledge, “I didn’t know so much about it” – prompting Miley Cyrus to give him a quick history lesson.
It boggles the mind how the host of a nationally syndicated radio show plus soon to be named emperor of the universe had no clue about twerking. Maybe Seacrest was out on a bathroom break during Lil’ Jon’s “crunk era,” but he had to have heard Beyoncé mention twerking on songs like “Check On It,” which pop radio played to death. The same can be said for other crossover acts like Nicki Minaj, Usher, and Rihanna.
It’s not that I have a problem with White people twerking. I can recall my intern supervisor at a news station once doing a demonstration of Ciara’s “Goodies” era booty pop. During the departments lunch break, obviously. Thing was, while he knew what he was twerking with, he also understood exactly where it came from.
This all just goes to show how little the things we do matter until a White person joins in on the fun. That wouldn’t be as irritating if we weren’t frowned upon for it, though. Don’t give Miley a cookie for her twerk and shade to the rest of us when we do it.
To be fair, some of the Blacks go to infinity and beyond when it comes to heaping on praise to White artists doing things derived from aspects of Black culture. Which leads me to Justin Timberlake and his new album. Look, I finally let go of my resentment towards for Justin for employing White privilege and letting Janet and her right tit hang out to pasture — only to apologize years later. So much so that I bought The 20/20 Experience. I won’t even pretend he hasn’t been on a naturally paler Michael Jackson kick for a decade now.
However, I have a real problem when he’s christened “Our Sammy Davis Jr.” I get what writer Hampton Stevens meant, but there’s a cultural sensitivity there and it should’ve been respected. Besides, we need to stop making everyone the next so & so anyhow. Yet, the press has long done this with Justin. Back in 2003 Rolling Stone dubbed him “The King of Pop” although Usher was then undoubtedly the bigger star in terms of record sales and hit singles.
Even though I hate that Usher and a whole heap of other Black artists abandoned R&B to hang with the rave kids, I know why that is: They wanted to court the lion share’s of music buyers. That’s why it’s insane to argue that Justin and Adele’s record sales “prove people will buy ‘quality music.”
Nah, it proves that White folks will buy our brand of singing from those who look more like than them faster than they will flock to its original sources. If Frank Ocean or Miguel dropped “Suit & Tie” it’d be relegated to “urban adult contemporary” radio stations. Ditto for if Jill Scott dropped “Rolling In The Deep.” But if Justin or Adele sang any of their songs, they’re still going to get crossover airplay. This doesn’t take away from Miley’s dancing or Adele and Justin’s talent, but don’t pretend there’s an inherent bias present.
Nevertheless, y’all are free to twerk with me, White people, but you can’t claim ownership and collectively, could stand to be fairer. And you select Blacks, stop waiting for their approval to feel validated.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where on the surface the shade might make the culprit want to curse, but trust, it comes from a place of concern. Tweet him at @youngsinick.