“From TikTok trends to songs and humor, we see so much erasure of what Black people have created,” the singer and rapper told an audience.
Lizzo recently delivered a TED Talk ― or rather, a TED Twerk ― discussing the history of the dance and Black culture.
The singer and rapper talked about the origins of twerking on Tuesday at the TEDMonterey “The Case for Optimism” conference, which took place from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 in Monterey, California. Her full TED Talk is expected to be released this fall.
“My ass has been the topic of conversation, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave my ass a standing ovation,” Lizzo, born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, says in a preview clip of her talk. “Yes, my booty. My least favorite part of my body. How did this happen? Twerking.”
“Through the movement of twerking I’ve discovered my ass is my greatest asset,” she continued. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TED Twerk.”
During her TED Talk, Lizzo discussed the history of twerking in Black culture and how its roots trace back to West African dancing, according to a recap of her talk.
In a preview clip of her discussion, Lizzo talks about society’s history of erasing aspects of Black culture, noting: “Black people carry the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones. We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it has become today.”
“I want to add to the classical etymology of this dance. Because it matters,” she continued. “From TikTok trends to songs and humor, we see so much erasure of what Black people have created.”
“I’m not trying to gatekeep,” she said. “But I’m definitely trying to let you know who built the damn gate.”
Lizzo has shared her joy for twerking over the years.
Whether the “Cuz I Love You” singer is twerking while playing the flute or twerking at a Los Angeles Lakers game, Lizzo has set the internet abuzz a number of times with her skills.
Last year, Lizzo posted a video on Instagram of herself twerking as an act of defiance, saying that a man had kicked her and her friends out of a seven-day rental three days early.
“This is for mocking the way that I dance and for using Instagram footage of me and my 6 black homegirls to say that we could ‘hurt him’ and threaten to call the police,” she wrote in the caption of that post. “I know you’re watching my page so I just want you to know you can’t stop this black girls’ shine.”
Lizzo’s fans, meanwhile, will have their own reason to twerk soon.
The singer announced on Instagram Monday that she will be releasing her first new song in two years, titled “Rumors,” on Aug. 13.
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