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Tired Of Not Getting Credit For New Trends, Black TikTok Creators Go On Strike

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Some Black TikTok creators are refusing to post their dances. You know the ones that go viral with that perfect song?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THOT SHIT")

MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) Hot girl, but I'm still the coldest. I'm the big homie, but I ain't the oldest. Dry hatin', tryna get noticed. Man, ain't nobody come to see you, Otis.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jewel Wicker is a culture and entertainment reporter based in Atlanta who has been following the story.

JEWEL WICKER: Megan Thee Stallion released a song that was perfect for kind of the reality that we see on TikTok when it comes to dance moves that are often created by Black creators. And they took it amongst themselves to decide to do a strike.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wicker says TikTok creators know the value of their work.

WICKER: Thousands or sometimes more people do the dance and kind of create content around this song. It allows the song to kind of get the streaming success that these music labels and these artists are looking for.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Which means those who create the dances now want credit and compensation for their art.

WICKER: They're really trying to prove a point to say we are the leaders in creating cultural moments and cultural movements and we want to get the accolades, the recognition and the monetary gain that, oftentimes, non-Black creators get even when they are not at the forefront of creating these movements.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And those accolades can be life changing for creators.

WICKER: We see, oftentimes, these nonwhite creatives are getting streaming shows on Hulu, or they are getting brand sponsorship deals. They're getting all of these things that come with real monetary success that - oftentimes, the Black creators who made these viral moment are not seeing any of this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But the strike cuts both ways because no dance moves means no viral content. For now, though, in refusing to post, TikTok dancers hope to prove something, says Wicker.

WICKER: This is what you get when we stop creating. You need to respect us, and you need to elevate us and give us the platforms that we deserve.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Many of those on strike are Black teenagers, and not being credited for their work has been disheartening.

WICKER: They're really kind of going through this moment of being just depressed or just really discouraged and feeling like they're not enough.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And it's bigger than TikTok, says Wicker.

WICKER: When we think of "Hound Dog," we don't think of Big Mama Thornton. We think of Elvis Presley, right? What's really telling is that, why is it that the Black creators are making content that is very viral, that is creating success for all of these other people but not for them? Their art is wanted but just with a different face.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But she says the strike probably won't last because Black TikTok creators can't be still too long. And that itch to choreograph fresh dance moves they hope will go viral might just be too powerful to resist. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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