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#TeachMeTuesday….. Twerk Gate or Twerk Hate?

So…. I wrote a whole chapter in my first book about what we’ve come to see as “sin” when it relates to Black people, rather than just celebrate or accept it as part of culture. I said, in my book, white culture shamed behaviors/ideas that were innately African, stole those same behaviors/ideas, copyrighted them, then sold it back to us as something else. When I think of #twerkgate and the recent shaming of all black women that came with the story; I had to come on here and teach you all a little something about this inferiority complex that we as Black people have taken on, I hope to eradicate that in every reader. Let’s start from breaking down the platform where I’m reading these comments, then I will break down what some of this means.

Twitter is an interesting place because everyone wants to sound the most woke about something; but the truth about #twerkgate is, it’s not that serious – *ancient African-American proverb*…. “What is #twerkgate?”, you ask, well, apparently, some women were twerking on a table at a restaurant run by a Black male owner; he spoke to them a couple of times, and finally, yelled at the whole restaurant – explaining that he put his hard earned money into the establishment, so that Black people can have somewhere nice to come to – and he requested that people treat it as such. I agree with him! I would like to separate some truth from some myth though.

Anyone who opens an establishment with their money has a right to have their rules enforced in that establishment. So I won’t talk about a man who takes pride in his business. How he addressed it, in my opinion, could have been different, I wouldn’t shame the whole black race in front of all your customers to get your point across. I have seen people of all ethnicities get crazy in establishments and put out/dealt with accordingly. He could have just dealt with them, the customers making a ruckus, and moved forward, providing signs or any other notifications needed to let future customers know what his establishment was about.

Let us talk about twerking now, and how it’s it not something to be shamed. How this went from respecting an establishment to Black women’s lack of respect and self-respect is beyond me. Twerking, or even being yourself, is only shamed when Black women do it. When Miley Cyrus twerked, you all gave her an award, in fact, where did the name twerk even come from? We have given credit to all the wrong people here. Twerking is technically, African! Have you heard of Ogene dance? A traditional dance done by the Igbos of Western and Northern Africa (reference this video for the north Igbo reference) if you look closely at Ogene dance, you’ll see it is no different from twerking. However, even if we didn’t know the history of twerking, what does it matter? It’s literally a dance, everybody in the world dances, it is because society over-sexualizes the Black woman’s body that we now must be brought to shame anytime we decide we want to shake our butt? You (world) told me my “booty” was something disrespectful, I didn’t, and I will not feel bad anytime I hear my song come on and I start to shake it. Call it what you want, but as I have said in many previous posts, I will not live in fear on this earth if everything I do is to please a race of people when my God created me. That is a horrible way to live, always thinking “what will white people think”. Will I dance on tables at an establishment I want to eat at? No. However, this #twerkgate debate has become about women shaking their butts rather than establishing that there’s a time and place for everything.

Two things can be true, it can be wrong to dance on tables at a nice establishment and right to twerk when you so desire. If I take the word “twerk” out now and replace it with “dance”, everyone would see it differently. The English language is rooted in discrimination, our word choice is everything, especially when describing Black people. One may say dancing is more appropriate where the environment clearly states there is a party going on, but are we going to blame all Black woman for one woman who was feeling herself?

You all be the judge. As someone who dances in the aisle of a grocery store when my song comes on, I don’t care, never have cared, and never will care. If someone asks me to stop because they feel disrespected in their establishment, I will stop (not that I’ve ever disrespected someone’s establishment), but I will not shame myself for every little thing I do as a Black woman. Shame the colonizers instead!

~Ndidi Love~

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