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‘Harlem Shake’ videos spark effort to ‘resist the fad’



News Analysis

By Jamal Denman

Contributing Writer


On March 13, Hamline University in St. Paul hosted a forum titled, “The Harlem Shake as Blackface: A Critical Look at Cultural Appropriation.” The forum was a panel discussion about a recent YouTube phenomenon and its relation to racism and people who identify themselves as White appropriating elements of cultures created by people of color. The panel of nine was made up of scholars, professors, students from Hamline, local artists, and others described as being nationally known speakers and activists connected to either hip hop culture, the city of Harlem, privilege, or appropriation who can share their experiences and expertise to shed light on why the “Harlem Shake” videos are a problem. For those who are unaware, the “Harlem Shake” being addressed is not referring to the dance made popular by Harlem youth in the 1980s; instead, it refers to a track created by a producer named Baauer, who named it “Harlem Shake.”

The track itself is not what is necessarily causing the commotion. It is the fact that it is used in videos uploaded to the Internet showing people moving around wildly to the track, and that it has created a sort of phenomenon, having influenced many different people to create similar videos. Continue Reading →

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