We’ve seen this story play out several times before. A young, Black creative does something cool, makes it popular, other cultures or big companies take the idea (sans the swag) and makes big bucks off of it.
It’s happened in every industry from beauty to music. As Black women, we’re literally watching as folks cash crop our cornrows and fabricate artificial baby hairs in 2020. And let’s not forget that Elvis stole most, if not all, of his music from great Black artists.
The modern day equivalent of those tales now take place via social media. The fact that most of us live our lives through the Internet makes it that much harder to claim ownership of your content, which ultimately makes it easier for folks to steal your ish without giving credit. That was the case for Jalaiah Harmon, the 14-year old creator whose infamous moves got the world dancing again.
One of Harmon’s dance sequences that she dropped on Tik Tok last year became one of the biggest viral dances on social media. It’s called the Renegade.
We’ve seen everyone from Lizzo to The Kardashians to K-Pop stars post videos of themselves doing the Renegade, garnering millions of views individually. Yet, Jalaih’s original video has barely hit 13,000 views. She told the New York Times:
“I was happy when I saw my dance all over. But I wanted credit for it. I posted on Instagram and it got about 13,000 views, and people started doing it over and over again. Nobody gave me credit. I was upset. It wasn’t fair.”
But it’s not about the money for Jalaih. It’s mostly about the opportunities that come with being an influencer. The classically trained teen could surely benefit from the brand deals and media opportunities that usually come along with being a breakout viral star. Just ask Shiggy.
This is yet another unfortunate case that poses the question “Why is it so hard to give Black creatives their credit?” Maybe stories like these will help change the future of being a Black creative in a digital world.