COLUMN: Black women are the blueprint


Rob Le Cates

Kyla Moton is a junior English major and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Kyla Moton, Columnist

As an African American woman, I have always grown up around Black women and girls. I was always fascinated with the way my mom, aunts, and older female cousins would style their hair, the music they listened to, and even the way that they danced.
I was introduced to Black culture pretty much as soon as I was born. The culture is so vast and we tend to be a bit more welcoming of the culture when we do not have to be. Because of this, we get people who invade the culture and try to claim our creations and inventions as their own.
Black women have been trendsetters since the beginning of time and because of this, it is hard for us to receive our followers, both in our community and in the media.
One example of this that I can think of, off the top of my head, relates to TikTok. There was a popular dance on TikTok called the “Renegade” dance. The dance was created by Jalaiah Harmon, an African American girl from Atlanta, Georgia.
Jalaiah Harmon originally posted the dance to Dubsmash. When the dance eventually made it to TikTok, a social media platform formerly known as “”, it was a modified version of the dance.
It was not as complex, watered down almost, to accommodate the new platform. With the changing of the dance also came the improper credit being given. TikTok personality Charli D’Amelio was getting most of the credit for the dance from TikTok users and media blogs.
She gained lots of recognition, landing her sponsorships with Takis, a Super Bowl commercial, along with the chance to perform at the NBA All-Star game in Chicago, Illinois in 2020. It was there that an article came out, recognizing Harmon as the originator of the “Renegade” dance.
This raised one question in lots of people’s minds: did Charli know that she was the originator of the dance?
Most people are led to believe that D’Amelio was not aware that Harmon was the creator of the dance. She never bothered to find out either.
It is not known whether or not Charli knew that people thought she created the dance, but she had done the dance in certain partnerships, and there were plenty of comments under the videos of her doing the dance on TikTok where people were trying to credit her instead or Jalaiah Harmon.
It happened many different times after the fact, especially with the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, lots of dances were being wrongfully credited.
Another example has to do with hairstyles. I know a lot of people are tired of this argument, but it is something that is still very common when it should not be. Black women’s and black men’s feelings towards this subject are disregarded so much that people do not even take issue with it anymore.
To sum up the outrage, Africans and African Americans have been culturally bound to hairstyles, such as box braids, dreadlocks, and cornrow braids. For a decent period of time, it was not only seen as unprofessional to have these sorts of hairstyles, it was also legal to discriminate against these sorts of hairstyles in certain workplace environments and school systems across the country.
The fact that these systems were in place to directly target African Americans and their choices of hairstyles, but it was even more shocking that these same hairstyles were considered “trendy” and “cool” for those who are not of African American descent.
People like The Kardashians became trendsetters when it came to these sorts of hairstyles. It is ridiculous that things that Black people created can be seen as ghetto or unprofessional to certain people, but these same inventions on a person who is not Black or African American, it is seen as a cool, new trend that has much potential.
Black women deserve their flowers! Black women have been innovators and have been paving the way for the next generation of Black women. I feel as though they do not get enough credit for the many things that they have done to help our society, and in return they get the short end of the stick.
We need to start thanking the Black women in our lives for everything that they do. From their generosity to their contributions to many different career fields, it is definitely time to start recognizing everything that they have done to let more Black girls and women accomplish goals in the near future.
Kyla Moton is a junior English/creative writing major. She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.