Always Trust a Big Butt and a Smile: Thinking About Twerking and Black Girl Public Cultures


The other day this amazing video came across dash board by the Twerk Team. The video was mesmerizing in that the women move their butts like I don’t know what. I mean jiggling your booty while your are upside down, I could only imagine the skill and agility that that technique requires. On top of that the made me want to dance/exercise, so I take inspiration where ever I find it.

Which brings me to this. Women in general and Black women in particular are oftentimes the most visually interesting aspects of many mainstream rap music videos. In fact, as far back as 2007, I discussed how video vixens needed a union because they are one of the most valuable assets withing in the mainstream rap music video ecosystem, but they also tend to be the lowest paid. I mean, would the “Birthday Song” be visually interesting without the presence of women’s bodies?


I don’t think so. Pay equity in music video wages, of course!

Conversations about twerking are conversations about Black women’s bodies, and their right to do what they want to do with their bodies in public. In fact, I think that there is a direct connection between Erkyah Badu’s choice to go nude for the “Window Seat” video and the visibility of Black girl twerk culture. The connection has to do with a willingness to for Black women, at this time, to do what they want their bodies in public, without being constrained by the politics of respectability.

The is important given the history of Black women being property during chattel slavery.

Which brings me to @StrugglingtoBeHeard. Last May she posted a video titled Twerking for Mothers Day on her personal blog, it was then uploaded to World Start Hip Hop, without her consent, where people, many of them Black men and women, began to leave out of pocket, sexist and misogynistic comments.

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Renina

Renina is a cultural critic, author, instructor and a blogger. She is also the founder of Black Girl Everything, New Model Minority. She is book "Black Girls Are From the Future: Essays on Race, Digital Creativity and Pop Culture".

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