Why black TikTok creators have gone on strike

Black creators on TikTok are refusing to choreograph new dances and calling out what they see as a new form of cultural appropriation on the app.

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s latest song ‘Thot Shit’ was supposed to be a TikTok hit. Her previous single ‘Savage’ had more than 22 million hits on the app. ‘WAP’ generated 4m and there were 1.5m for ‘Body’.

But this time a social media strike staged by black creators on the viral-video-making platform has prevented her new single from taking off. Black creators have refused to make a dance for the song and instead mounted a digital walk-out.

Since June, the hashtag BlackTikTokStrike has been viewed more than 6.5m times on the app and has since been trending on social media platforms like Twitter. Black users are using the hashtag to voice their objections to what they say is preferential treatment.

Black creators say non-black influencers use their work, reaping the financial and personal gains earned from views, but fail to acknowledge or give credit to originators.

“Even in the spaces we’ve managed to create for ourselves, [non-black] people violently infiltrate and occupy these spaces with no respect to the architects who built it,” Erick Louis, a black TikTok creator who helped organise the strike, told the Washington Post.

“This app would be nothing without [black] people,” Mr Louis, 21, wrote in a widely shared TikTok video.

The strike is about recognition and giving credit where it is due, he said.

Black creators are not the only ones who agree. Rachel McKenzie, who is white, uses TikTok daily and supports the strike.

“Anyone that uses TikTok will tell you young black creators choreograph the vast majority, if not all, of the dances that go viral,” she told BBC.

“If you look at modern pop culture and its entirety, it’s just another example of how black culture sells and white people hijack it.”

“As a white woman, I think it’s important to speak to those who continue to deny credit or trivialise matters like this,” she said.

Going viral on TikTok has proven to have an impact far beyond popularity. Some TikTok users have made millions in revenue from their videos. Moreover, viral songs on TikTok have had a huge impact on the music industry, influencing which songs become hits and gaining more streams and thus more money for artists.

While the strike started with Megan Thee Stallion’s latest song, the problem has been highlighted before. BBC

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