It Happened To Me: There Are No White People In My Twerk-Out Class And I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It
**Not me. Found on internet.
January is such a funny time for twerk-out studios. Everyone is
trying to get in shape and perfect their dance moves for the New Year.
Of course, this means an overload on twerk-hopefuls entering classes
just to quit mid-February.
A few weeks ago, as I settled into my crowded evening class, a young,
fairly thin white woman took her position right behind me. She appeared
to have never set foot in a twerk-out studio before. She anxiously
glanced around the room, adjusting her booty shorts, looking wide-eyed
and incredibly nervous. Within just the first few minutes of French
Montana’s “Pop That,” I saw the fear in her eyes as she attempted to
squat and, well, pop that. She was obviously filled with panic and then
despair. Before we even started twerking on the chairs, she had hunched
over with her hand on her knees, head lowered, trapped and vulnerable.
She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.
Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to twerk
in her face. I found it impossible to not think about this poor woman
behind me. Even though I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I
knew she was still staring directly at my ass. Over the course of the
next hour, I felt her despair turn into resentment and then contempt. I
just knew for sure, it was directed toward me and my booty.
By the time Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” came on, I was completely
unable to focus on my twerking. Instead, I was feeling hyper-aware of
my spandex booty shorts, my sexy tight tank top, my well-versedness in
dropping it like it’s hot. My heavy-set black woman body. Surely this
skinny white girl was noticing all of these things and judging me for
them, stereotyping me, resenting me – or so I assumed. However, I’m
pretty sure I was right. How could I be wrong?
I thought about how even though Miley Cyrus appropriated this ancient
dance which actually originated in Africa, twerking is still biased
towards other races, genders, ages, experience levels and socioeconomic
statuses. My twerk-out studio preaches the gospel of rump-shaking
egalitarianism but despite it all, it is still mostly populated by
non-white people. And in large and constantly rotating roster of
instructors, I could only remember two being half-white.
I thought about how that must feel: to be a skinny white woman
entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable
to accommodate her small booty. What could I do to help her? If I were
her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my
unfortunate dance moves and despair – I would not want anyone to notice
me; in fact, I would down a glass of bleach for even embarrassing
myself. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid shaking my behind in
her face. But I still felt her hostility towards me. Trying to ignore
her only made things worse. Should I have told her to bend over to the
front and touch her toes? Should I have encouraged her to drop down and
get her eagle on? Would that have made me come off rude or ghetto?
Condescending even? If I asked her to articulate her experience to me so
I could listen, would she have felt more comfortable? Her lack of ass
and skill made me feel so uncomfortable. The system should make itself
accessible to a broader range of booty shapes.
I got home from that class and immediately broke down crying. I mean I
was hysterical. I called my therapist, my mother and my pastor to help
me cope with the pain. Twerking, a beloved dance that has helped me
through many dark moments in my life, suddenly felt deeply evil. I so
deserved to be targeted by that woman’s racially charged anger. But
maybe that’s my own psychological projection. Nah, she was totally
The question is, of course, so much bigger than twerking, so much
bigger than my ass – it’s a question of enormous systemic failure. How
can we fix the system? How can America practice twerking in good
conscience when there isn’t enough awareness? I’m sure this piece is one
of the most inspiring you will ever read in your lifetime. My words
will create change and twerking will never be the same. This story calls
A woman infamously had the same issue as I did. Please read her story on XOJane and appropriately barf afterwards. I didn’t want to state the obvious of how ignorant she is, so I decided to express my frustration through humor.