If you’re privy to the dance scene going on in New York that has also taken over social media (and made it’s way into White Folks’ home thanks to Ellen Degeneres), then you’ve probably heard of Emilie Brooklyn. Emilie is very well known in the New York City dance community, specifically when it comes to the lite feet movement.
The Copenhagen, Denmark native has danced for everyone from ASAP Ferg to Chris Brown — and with her large social media following plus half of uptown New York supporting her, it’s safe to say that Em is up next.
Don’t get us wrong, anyone with raw talent (who can Harlem shake better than some Harlemites) deserves all the clout and respect that Emilie receives. But as a White girl whose upbringing was the polar opposite of someone growing up in the projects of Brooklyn, some things just aren’t acceptable. Like her birthday video to Jay-Z in front of Marcy houses.
Not only is the video tone deaf AF, but it poses the question: Are Black folks too welcoming? Are we giving away our culture for free? There are several things about the 16 second clip that would trigger any person of color that grew up in an impoverished community:
The setting: Public Housing is not a tourist attraction or a prop. Oppressed people of color were placed STILL live there and some are trying to make it out. Starret City, the largest federally subsidized, was built specifically for low-income, government assisted Black folks in 1974. Now it’s called Spring Creek Towers and was sold to shareholders, including Donald Trump, for $905 million.
The Timbs: We’re use to Wypipo jocking our style and calling it their own; i.e. the Kim Kardashian “Boxer Braids”. But we gotta draw the line some where, and Timberland Boots is a good place to start. In the late 80’s and early 90’s before White folks ever thought about making their way to Brooklyn, Timbs were a symbol of the urban NY culture. Legend has it that Drug Dealers made them popular in the 90’s when they wore them to hit the block. But just like most things in Black culture — white folks got a hold of them, then celebrities. Now we cringe every time we see an “Emilie” ditching her uggs for Timbs.
The props: If a Black girl came to a predominately White, suburban neighborhood dancing in front of the property with her coat and backpack posted on the gate all willy nilly — the police would have been called before she could finish her harlem shake.
The Tags: Really though, Emilie? You just gon’ tag every popular urban outlet thinking they’d praise you for finagaling in front of such a beloved area? Nah.
The Dance: As Millennials, we let a lot of things slide when it comes to the arts. “If you’re good at something, why do we have to bring race into the mix?” But just as White folks benefit from their ancestors atrocities with White privilege, Black people bare the brunt of our ancestors pain and suffering with oppression and maltreatment. And just as Jamie Lee Lewis wrote on Instagram, “The Harlem Shake, Light Feet are not dance moves. For us this is culture, it’s how we survive and how we acknowlege that we survived.”
By no means are we saying that Emilie Brooklyn can’t dance, cause shorty has moves! But just be more aware. Be more informed. And please, get more Black friends.