Through internet videos, tracing the African roots of twerk

Man, seems like there's just azz everywhere these days. At "This Is Africa," contributor Cosmic Yoruba has a roundup of videos that show the African roots of the booty-popping dance white folk now call "twerking."

Twerk gyrated further into pop culture focus this week when noted white pop star Miley Cyrus attempted, poorly, to perform it on a televised awards show.

Those who've followed New Orleans Bounce and its "sissy variants" know Miley didn't invent the move--far from it. In Latin America, perreo and dembow have inspired politicians to launch morality crusades. The roots of booty-popping can be traced through the African diaspora. Above, a compilation of music videos that show Mapouka, a contemporary form popular in Cote D'Ivoire that was deemed so provocative, it was banned.

From Cosmic Yoruba's excellent roundup:
Moving beyond the States to other parts of the African diaspora, in Haiti there is gouye/gouyad, in Colombia the El Mapale, in Cuba the vacunao, and most people are familiar with Jamaican winin’. On to Africa itself: in Senegal we have the ventilateur, in Somalia the niiko, kwassa kwassa in DR Congo (which goes by the same name in Zimbabwe), and the Cameroonian zingué. Not to mention malaya of the Afro-Arab communities in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

TWERK: Booty-dancing, gender politics & white privilege []

Notable Replies

  1. seyo says:

    "the booty-popping dance white folk now call 'twerking.'"

    This is a little disingenuous. Black people here were calling it twerking before white people noticed and got into it. See DJ Jubilee. Thanks.

  2. seyo says:

    So have "white folks" also co-opted the term "breakdancing"? Or "jazz"? What about "sushi"? Also, "they"? Sounds to me like you're trolling.

  3. As a white lady whose butt is quite definitively a different pant size than her waist, I concur. I can't twerk. But I'm pretty sure that, as with many physical skills, that has more to do with lack of practice and effort rather than something innate. It'd be sort of like me saying, "I'm genetically incapable of running 5 miles" when the reality is more like "I've not really done anything to make myself capable of running 5 miles."

  4. Surely "shaking that thing" dates back to the development of that thing, and no culture now in existence can lay any real claim to it.

  5. Well, which stereotypes are uttered in implicit reference to all white people? My own answer (YMMV): very few.

    Among those that do seem to apply to all white people (can't jump, lack rhythm, etc.), how injurious are they, really? That is, how much of a history, and an ongoing reality, of racial oppression against white people accompanies them, and gets reinforced by them? My own answer: Very, very little. In fact, in the U.S., none.

    So I don't really care much about the supposed scourge of stereotypes about white people. Given the fact that the U.S. remains a de facto white supremacist culture and society, and that many (most?) people of color still suffer greatly as a result, I think any butthurt attention paid by whites to stereotypes about whites is a waste of breath and energy (which is not to say I think you're acting all butthurt). Not to mention how naive and silly it makes white people look when they moan and groan about "reverse racism" and so on.

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