You Gon’ Learn Today: 9 Things White Folks Don’t Understand About Twerking

July 15, 2013  |  
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You may noticed ever since Miley Cyrus appeared in that animal costume “twerking,” the dance has garnered nationwide attention. There have been articles on several major news outlets including the Today Show who did reports on the “dance craze.” Even the “famous grandmothers” imitated Miley twerking something. And as you might imagine, it’s just as terrible as you would imagine. And now that white folks have grabbed hold of twerking, we think there are a few things they need to know.

It’s not a new dance craze

Just because Miley let white folks know what we have been doing for years, arguably centuries, does not mean it’s a new dance craze. As Charing, pointed out in a article she wrote for MN a while ago, what we call twerking now has long, deep roots in African culture and is well represented throughout the black diaspora.

It didn’t originate in New Orleans

Which means it didn’t originate in New Orleans. Twerking has been in the works for a while. You can examples of dances where the booty is the focal point all over the world. And though New Orleans’ bounce music probably caused us to toot our booties and jiggle our booty meat in this fashion, it’s not something that the city created. Really, it was already there it just took the right type of music to call it up.

Miley did not introduce twerking into popular culture

Though Miley’s video sparked the most recent twerking fascination, hit Ying Yang Twins’ songs like “Say I Yi Yi”  and others. If you never realized “Say I Yi Yi” was about twerking check the lyrics.

She got her hands up on her knees and her bows on her thighs 
She got the twerkin and the servin so I know that she fly 
She got me hype, I wanna bite her right now yi yi 
Say I yi yi yi yi.

“Say I Yi Yi” was released in 2002. In pop culture years, that’s ancient. So calling it new is like claiming the bankhead bounce is the new hotness on the streets. It’s just not true.

Miley Cyrus is trying but she’s not an expert

Even though Miley Cyrus is the new poster child for twerking, when it comes to craft and skill, she’s far from the best. As you might expect. If you want to see how it’s done, check out the pros. There are several but the Official Twerk Team is the most consistently on point. Check out some of their videos here if you really are interested in learning.

You can not learn how to twerk from an illustration or gif

Sorry ladies, if you’re trying to do something special for your man and show him you know how to shake something, you probably won’t learn it from an illustration or a gif from The Guardian.  Apologies. As you can see the cartoon above looks nothing like the women in the links I’ve included above. No where in this illustration to we see any booty movement. Just a chick with her hands on her knees. That won’t cut it.


Demi Moore probably never twerked

True there were a few photos circulating that would lead you to believe Demi was truly wylin. And she just might have been. But wearing a short dress, sitting with your legs open and wiggling in your seat does not constitute twerking. I’m willing to bet that even on her most turnt day, Demi wouldn’t be twerking. And even if she was, I doubt we’d recognize it.

Twerking doesn’t warrant suspension

This is what happens when people don’t understand their history. Now, should high school aged girls be twerking on school grounds? Probably not. But it’s a matter of inappropriateness more than it is an action worthy of severe disciplinary action like suspension. Maybe a warning and then detention if it persists. It’s just a dance and the girls at this school clearly weren’t performing it to the level that they could have been. Had it been as authentic as it could have been, then that school might have had something to worry about.  But I’m willing to bet that there are far greater offenses being perpetrated on school grounds.

It didn’t originate in the Caribbean

There are some people who are taking it further than New Orleans they attribute twerking to the Caribbean. Saying that the word originated for a mashing of the word “twist” and the Jamaican seasoning “jerk.” Twerk. It’s a nice story but Jamaicans call this type of dancing “whinin'” soooo… I doubt they came up with this one. Though I could be wrong.

When the mainstream is done with it, we’ll still be twerking

Just because this is a craze or phase right now…for Miley, it doesn’t mean it will fade into obscurity once she’s made money off of her foray into black culture. When Miley starts standing upright again and renounces it just like she’s done her Disney upbringing, we’ll reclaim it and return to the twerking throne.

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