Letter to the editor: Harlem Shake offensive
I will be the first to admit it, when I initially saw the videos of the Harlem Shake I thought they were great. I showed them to friends and jumped on the bandwagon.
When Towson began to organize its own Harlem Shake I immediately wanted to take part. It was, after all, done in good and harmless fun.
Then I saw a video a friend had posted on Facebook about how those in Harlem were reacting to the videos and it hit me. I once again let my own ignorance to the history and to the voices of others affect my reactions and actions.
The white male in me had once again reared its apathetic head. So I took a step back and actually read about the roots of the Harlem Shake and listened to the voices of those who were affected by the videos, not in a positive way but in a painful way, in an angry way and those voices deserve as much air time as do the countless videos.
“Let me just start off by saying that this so called new Harlem Shake is a complete mockery, insult to the originator Al B and a slap in the face to hip-hop culture … It’s surprising to see how the current viral video craze called the Harlem Shake has managed to almost completely replace a vibrant form of African-American dance that was born and bloomed in Harlem, N.Y.” – Mamba, Boy-Cott Magazine, February 2013.
Some might say that this is all done in good fun and just because the videos are called the Harlem Shake, that does not imply any disrespect towards the city, people or culture of Harlem or hip-hop.
But that’s the point. Because it is much easier to go with the flow as opposed to paddling against the current. It is why the message of the effects of these videos has not been heard.
When millions of people, 4.6 million views on one video alone, are caught up in the hysteria of something new, the term viral becomes exceedingly more apropos.
It is my opinion that those of us in this society who have the privilege of not needing to paddle against the current are much more easily affected and infected by these viral moments and therefore need to become that much more aware of the nature of the affect that they have on the “other” whomever that may be.
I will not be attending the Towson University Harlem Shake and will instead spend my time reading and hearing from those on both sides of the spectrum.
Until then my opinion remains uneducated yet evolved from its original infected form.