Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
The Democrats have a notorious history of pandering to black people, and it is getting even worse. Historically, they’ve used events happening within our culture to advertise to us. Those advertisements somehow always miss the mark. Whether it’s kneeling in Kente cloth while honoring George Floyd, Vice President Kamala Harris showing up to an iconic Verzuz, or regularly using hip-hop stars to ask for our vote, it’s all been embarrassing.
Recently, instead of making fake promises like promising to protect us from racism like they usually do, one Rhode Island state senator tried to solicit our support with twerking and dancing. It is nauseating. It’s as if they only have a few plays in rotation to campaign on, and most of them have nothing to do with the advancement of black people in this country.
It is shocking and disgusting that she would implore that tactic as if there aren’t countless issues in the black community. To assume that black people and black women in particular would applaud or even agree with these performances is offensive.
This isn’t the first time twerking has been invoked either. In 2020, left-leaning and democratic organizations such as the black Male Voter Project and New Georgia Project were involved with a team of strippers from Atlanta to create the “Get Your Booty to the Poll” campaign. Atlanta is known for its strip clubs, so, culturally, this may have made sense to them. The goal of the campaign was to get more black people, particularly males, to vote in Georgia during the presidential election. However, the campaign went viral beyond Georgia after sports journalist Jemele Hill tweeted a video about it.
In the video, several strippers in red, white, and blue with messages such as “vote” written on their butts pole dance in between reciting a PSA giving voters different scenarios about why they should vote. Some people thought the idea was great, but others rightfully pointed out that the campaign was tasteless and that we did not need a twerk video to vote.
That scenario is even worse because it was targeted at black male voters, who are often used as campaigning tools during election years. The message comes across as if seeing strippers shake their asses is the biggest priority for black male voters, and that they would not have done so without the PSA.
According to the filmmaker, Angela Barnes, the PSA was made “to encourage black men—one of the most ignored and maligned voter groups—to seize their rights.”
In January 2021, Black Lives Matter showcased a video of performer Shaina Simmons twerking in American flag booty shorts to a song that had excerpts of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” The video was a part of a series to honor King, according to the organization.
A total of 1.2 million people viewed the Instagram post, and more than 4,000 left comments—the majority of them unfavorable. Many of the commenters called the video distasteful, insulting, awkward, and embarrassing. Many people asked that Black Lives Matter remove the video. However, the post is still up to this day. After seeing the backlash, BLM decided to turn off the comments.
On July 4th, Rhode Island Democrat State Senator Tiara Mack posted an offensive video of herself on her district’s official TikTok page. In the video, she appears to be on a beach doing a handstand while twerking while someone repeatedly whispers “that ass” in the background. At the end of the video, she looks into the camera and says, “Vote Senator Mack.” Although Mack attempted to blame the criticism on conservatives, it was apparent that the criticism came from all corners, with many people describing it as unprofessional and offensive, especially to black women.
Like the others, instead of listening to the criticism, Mack decided to double down on the video. On July 7, her Twitter was filled with quirky graphics with the hashtag #twerkfor in combination with campaign talking points such as “#Twerkfor Trans Rights” and “#Twerkfor Black Girl Magic.” She even retweeted a writer who blamed the criticism on her being a “young queer black leader.”
This is the issue when criticizing people with that mentality. They are offended by constructive criticism and blame the criticism on their “marginalized identities.” Never mind that it was extremely tacky and assumes that shaking ass on camera would win votes.
All three of these examples show that when critics call these campaigns out, they are either met with deaf ears, or the perpetrators double down on their ignorance. There is a serious disconnect between real-world black voters and the people pandering to us for political goal points. This is not about respectability politics, as some have tried to make the criticism out to be. This excuse is overblown and is simply not the case with many people. There is nothing wrong with twerking or dancing on its own. The issue is using these performances assuming that they will resonate with the average black voter.
As we have seen from the backlash to the examples above, many of us in the black community would just like our purported representatives to have decorum and act like they seriously have our best interests in mind.
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