So… After my Monster Teen(* patent pending*) made his YouTube Harlem Shake video, I actually started looking up some others. Didn’t impress me, but maybe that’s because it’s not my egg up there. I wasn’t into planking, because that’s just some special moment helmet and cape stuff to me. I liked Gangnam Style because I was over in Asia when it happened, and had been there for so many years that I couldn’t help but immerse myself somewhat in their culture.
But back to what people are already saying is played out. You know, one of the first things I asked my M.T. was if he knew what the real Harlem shake was. “Yeah, but this is just a fun thing that people are doing.”
Bam! Out of the mouths of babes, or monstrous teenagers.
But some people, my brown crayon color people, are completely upset! It’s a mockery, it’s peach crayon people stealing what makes us, us! As on the YouTube video interviews of the people of actual Harlem say: the Harlem shake is a way of life!” It’s *gasp* racist!
Are we for serious here?
One comment I read in an online discussion about Harlem Shakemggedon says it best:
“The Black American Legacy is anger with no resolution. That needs to change.”
Let me clear something up real quick before I go on. I am proud to be black. I like my skin, I like my big lips, I love all the things I can do with my hair, I love my smooth voice, I love that my genetics keep me looking young (or as a white coworker likes to say “Black don’t crack!”). I love the way my Ma taught me to cook, and I love my badonk, no matter how “ignant” it may be right now after I gained a couple of pounds. I was raised to be open and understanding of all cultures, while loving my own.
But a dance doesn’t define me. My people’s history is in my genetic chain, but learning that knowledge and then putting down great works here on this planet until I die defines me. If a dance only created 10-30 years ago in your city (the accounts change with different articles) is the only thing you know of your history, along with a story of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and MLK that you learned in school during Black History Month… Well I pity you.
In fact, I hear Ursula from the Little Mermaid singing the words “Poooor Unfortunate Soullllls!” (which by the way is the same thing that plays in my head when I see ugly babies).
You want to know who you are? Pick up a daggone book. I remember falling in love with 2 books in Elementary school: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Which opened my mind to the plights of my past ancestry and another’s (yes, I read them in Elementary. The nerd is very strong in this one). You want something rooted in your ancient people? There are SO MANY great books on Egyptian/Ethiopian/Kush mythology. You want to know your people? Turn around and speak with the Nigerian braiding your hair that still has family in the “motherland” and watch those awesome Nollywood movies just because they’re awesome. Instead of heading out to the club on Saturday and nursing your headache on Sunday as you are in your finery at church, why not visit one of the many museums that populate the nation that showcase black history, artistry and culture? Or… Just continue to complain about someone stealing your dance, which is somehow a derision of an Ethiopian shoulder dance, while you continue to bump songs about the strip club, and post videos of Lil Boomquisha twerkin at 2 years old. My God.
I’ve seen videos of the Ethiopian shoulder dance. Beautiful, joyful, and steeped in ARTISTRY.
The “original” Harlem Shake, well, I ALWAYS assumed it was thought up after seeing some local crackheads shaking from needing a fix. That’s why seeing my teen in the video have what looks like convulsions in the background… I just said “Meh, close enough.”
My son is going to grow up rich in the history of the people who share his color of skin, along with those who don’t. What is your child going to grow up like, when you tell him/her that their culture was a dance that’s looks like a broken crackhead?
Pooooooooor unfortunate soul!