Tired of not receiving credit for their creativity, many Black content creators on TikTok have joined a widespread strike and are refusing to create new dances on the app until they’re properly credited and compensated.
The #BlackTikTokStrike isn’t calling on users to leave the app or stop posting content. Instead, Black content creators are sharing videos calling out what they say is preferential treatment for white creators who receive millions of views by performing dances they appropriated from Black creators.
The strike began in late June and, as of Thursday morning, the hashtag has been viewed on TikTok more than 3.6 million times.
TikTok content creator Fur-Quan Powell told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday he has decided to put a pause on making his popular dance videos for the time being in an effort to highlight how essential Black creators are to the platform.
“White creators are getting more credit because I feel like they might think that they’re more polished, [but] they never even gave Black creators a chance or opportunity to even be on mainstream,” Powell said in an interview from New Jersey.
The strike has been centered around Megan Thee Stallion’s latest song, “Thot S**t.” Unlike her last viral song with Cardi B, “WAP,” there is not a single trending dance video to the new track. Some creators say that’s deliberate.
Powell says TikTok is known for its viral dances, but they are often created by Black creators. He says this is unknown to most app users because they aren’t getting credit for their work.
CTVNews.ca has reached out to TikTok for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publishing.
Powell has personally experienced a white TikToker using a song he created to get a career opportunity.
Known online as FlyBoyFU, Powell is also a recording artist and is famous for creating the “Laffy Taffy (Remix),” which has been danced to by millions on TikTok. Powell created the song while his friend, Indie, created the dance choreography.
However, late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon invited TikTok star Addison Rae Easterling to perform a series of eight viral TikTok dances on his show, including Powell’s “Laffy Taffy (Remix)” in March.
Easterling created none of the dances she performed on the show. The original creators were not given credit during the show either. The late show only later posted their usernames in the description box of the YouTube video of the segment after the episode aired.
“When I first saw Addison go up there, I was a little bummed out because I was like this is my moment, I should have been able to be given the opportunity to go up there,” Powell said.
“My fans they want to see me perform, they want to see me dance and they’re like, ‘Oh, this is your opportunity why is this person up there?'” he added.
Powell said it was “really hurtful” to have a white creator take credit for his content.
After considerable backlash, Fallon invited the actual creators of the dances onto his show, acknowledging that they “deserve their own spotlight.”
Powell made an appearance on the show in April, but says Fallon did the bare minimum by inviting him after Easterling’s segment.
“It was really hurtful because you see a lot of people around the world, they’re doing your dances, they’re doing something that you created, [but] they never know what us creators are going through,” Powell explained.
“I just felt like I should have been up there,” he added.
Moving forward, Powell says he wants to see TikTok give original creators proper recognition when someone else is using their songs and dances.
“I feel like TikTok should have a tag where it has the option to put the dance credit or the song credits when you upload a video — they don’t give you that option so a lot of people are left out,” Powell said.
He said Black TikTok creators wouldn’t have had to strike if there had been an option to credit content in the first place.
“A lot of these Black creators create these dances that goes super duper viral that have people all around the world dancing to them and they literally just get left out and I feel like there’s so much more that can be done,” Powell said.
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