A recent dance craze entitled “The Harlem Shake” has erupted on the scene. In this dance, things tend to get a little crazy. However, this dance craze has gained a substantial amount of negative attention from members of the African American community. Not only does this dance mock the true “Harlem Shake”, but it brings disgrace upon a historically African American community. One journalist, Melissa Harris-Perry, voices her opinion on this seemingly “fake” Harlem Shake. This article can be found at http://jetmag.com/news/melissa-harris-perry-harlem-shake-rebuttal/
In her monologue, Melissa Harris-Perry reminds viewers that Harlem is a place of African American creativity. During the Harlem Renaissance, a plethora of creativity flowed from Harlem in the form of dance, music, poetry, and art. According to Melissa Harris-Perry, White America has forgotten where true cultural designation of the Harlem Shake belongs. It is not like the Harlem Shake was recent. It has been around since at least the 1980s.
This article reminded me of Dr. McKinney’s comment in class about how White America sung songs written by African American in a sexless manner. This new dance craze is simply another act of voyeurism in the African American community. According to Melissa Harris-Perry, “Harlem, the birthplace of music, art, and literature, has been invaded yet again by White America.” In the past, White America stole creativity from Harlem and attempted to keep that entertainment for themselves by not allowing African Americans to enjoy the music performances of the artists from Harlem. Is it happening all over again?
When I first discovered the dance, I was expecting to see whites attempt to do the intricate shoulder movements involved in the dance. To my surprise, the things I saw varied. However, I can say it was not the Harlem Shake. Until I viewed this article, I saw the humor involved in the viral videos. I never thought about the mockery it displayed to the Harlem community.
As Melissa Harris- Perry said, “Respect should be shown to the Harlem community.” In acknowledging other dances, you would not waltz when the competition calls for the tango. It is only befitting that the Harlem Shake be shown appropriate respect for its cultural place in the African American community. Knowing the cultural background of the Harlem community, do you believe that it is disrespectful to call this new dance craze “The Harlem Shake”? Are African Americans simply over-reacting to college students good, clean fun?