Ms. Jamie Adedra (“Betty Booty”) Moore
Born: Wed., Feb. 14, 1990
Died: Wed., Nov. 12, 2014
Jamie A’dedra Moore was born February 14, 1990 in Queens, New York to James D Moore and AnnetteTownes. The date is significant for my research because YouTube launched its domain name on February 14, 2005. YouTube would launch Jamie and her two friends from ATL into online user-generated fame. On June 9, 2009 she and two other local twerkers uploaded their 3rd attempt to broadcast themselves as the Official Twerk Team on YouTube.
On Wednesday, November 12, 2014. Jamie was involved with a failed drug deal where she was accosted and shot in the head over $1115. Jamie better known on YouTube as BeTTy BuTT, the capitalized “T”s stand for “twerk team” which they made famous as a colloquial expression and a cultural meme. Twerk teams of lil’ sisters and cousins and later cheerleading squads and white girls in San Diego high schools led to a kind of moral panic following the appropriation of twerking by Miley Cyrus in a YouTube video in April 4, 2013 (that date is probably of no significance to Miley and her handlers–it’s the date MLK was assassinated). The video titled Miley Cyrus Twerking Video has over 6.7 million views to date.
My students and I since last summer have been learning about CPMs. The cost per thousands YouTube uses to calculate the monetization of a channel. According to several sources (will update later when I have time), the average subscriber today makes only $2.09/CPM minus a 45% cut for YouTube. To put the $1115 that Jamie was shot in the head for into CPMs, she died for 500,000 YouTube views.
Her top upload on her personal channel @BeTTy BuTT had only 4 videos. She had left the Official Twerk Team. More about that in another post. The video with the most views had only over 200,000 views. She died for twice that number and some. #bottomlines YouTube ain’t as lucrative as everyday folk want to make it out to be. When I tell folks I am studying twerking, black girls’ twerking on YouTube, one of the initial responses is always they are making money on YouTube. Pardon the vernacular but…NO THEY NOT!! At least for the millions of views she got with the Twerk Team and her own site she could have at least been remembered for her born name, her government name, in death. Not one news report claimed her real name. She was just some “dumb bitch” (pardon the expression) who twerked on YouTube. RIP.
Here’s more from her obituary online.
She was …
full of life, she enjoyed swimming, sewing, music, dancing, volunteering and spending time with family and friends.Jamie graduated from Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, GA. She had many talents including fashion desiging, modeling and teaching dance. She was a the true daddy’s girl. She mirrored and enjoyed every minute of swimming, motorcycling and other thrill seeking activities with her father. Additionally, she loved making arts and craﬅs with her mother. Theyenjoyed sewing, crocheting and knitting many items which inspired her aryistic ability as a fashion designer. Recently, she was helping her mother create a website for her craﬅ business. Jamie had an awesome relationship with her stepmother and they enjoyed attending theater productions. Jamie’s aﬃnity for travel was inspired by stepmother and she loved traveling with her grandparents and aunt Curly. Jamie was a water lover and the beach was her best friend. She was also an ovarian cancer survivor.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
I set up a new Google+ account and a separate YouTube account for my research. A new post is coming soon!
“You must learn her.
You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.
You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.
BEEN A MINUTE…
October has been an incredibly fulfilling and intense month so far. Aside from writing and teaching, I’ve been updating my blog here with a new header that speaks to my work on YouTube. I’m on the job market seeking a full-time position in digital media studies, ethnomusicology and/or African American/women’s studies. I attended the critical and intense Town Hall for Girls of Color hosted by Girls for Gender Equity and Kimberle Crenshaw’s African American Policy Forum at Columbia Law School two weekends ago in honor of The International Day of the Girl. And there’s a lot of new things happening with my collaborative ethnography team of undergrads. We start collecting new data on adolescent and teen blacks girls who broadcast while they twerk for my research and their Anthropological Analysis course and training.
All that said, this post is about another project that has inspired my work. This weekend, Saturday October 25th, 2014, Founder and Executive Director Aiesha Turman and the advisory board of The Black Girl Project hosts the 4th annual Sisterhood Summit at Empire State College from 10am – 6pm. I would love it if shared this post on your Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or your Twitter!!
THE BLACK GIRL PROJECT: SISTERHOOD SUMMIT #BGPSS14
View the day’s program here. The theme is “Treat Yo’Self: Healthy, Whole and Free Black Girls.” Come volunteer for the morning (10-2) or afternoon (2-6pm) sessions! The girls and women attending need your support!! If interested, DM me at kyraocity at gmail.
Love, peace and hairgrease! All the ladies say “He–alth!”
— jj fap (@dopegirlfresh) October 22, 2014
— Omi (@RahaReiki) October 23, 2014
“Media Culture is the result of the industrialization of information and culture. Images, sounds and spectacles help produce the fabric of life, dominating leisure time, shaping political views and social behavior, and providing the materials out of which people forge their identities.” — Doug Kellner
“Le racisme est la dévalorisation profitable d’une différence” ou, plus techniquement, “le racisme est la valorisation, généralisée et définitive, de différences réelles ou imaginaires, au profit de l’accusateur et au détriment de sa victime, afin de légitimer une agression.”
“Racism is profitable devaluation of a difference ” or , more technically, ” Racism is the development , widespread and ultimately, real or imagined differences in favor of the accuser and to the detriment of the victim, in order to legitimize aggression.” (Google translation).
- Albert Memmi, Racism
Value in Making Fun of Black Girls’ Identity on YouTube
In the last few years, I’ve taken to avoiding use the conjunction “but”. It has nothing to do with my research on twerking or feeling I could if it was even possible inspire all the other people who use the term to stop doing it by erasing the term, like naïve notions of erasing race by not talking about it. The intangible meanings of race, blackness or jokes about black butts do not disappear from individual behaviors in a world of 7.1 billion people or even more than 3 million Americans. When studying black girls on YouTube I’ve realized that I must confront the fact that we live in a world defined by bottomlines, by numbers. We are still a minority group. Our music still generates a great deal of revenue for companies not run by women or black folks.
The bottomlines or numbers game is both good news and bad news depending on how your frame it. The objective data I am gathering is demonstrating a perspective that cannot be seen by casual viewing of YouTube videos or ogling that a view went viral. Yet, we are being seduced by such views. The seduction of not only our attention but our cultural views are at stake. The “context is decisive.” as the saying goes, in any situation when dealing with bottomlines. So, let’s explore the “value” of representations of black girls on YouTube for a minute or two.
How are teenagers’ views of themselves affected by others in the disembodied online environment? Do teenagers take the attitudes of the anonymous others seriously in online interaction, or do they merely regard them as part of an entertaining and inconsequential role-playing game? (S. Zhao 2005, 389). Link to article.
I have a bold claim here. The value of being a black girl in the YouTube community of vloggers is not afforded to black girls themselves. It seems that others gain currency, get lots of views and traffic, when we girls/women who are deemed “African-American,” “ghetto,” “ratchet” or some other stigmatized identification, are the butt of a vlogger’s joke in YouTube videos. This one is about naming practices among black girls and it has accrued over 30 MILLION views!!
During a great conversation with sociologist Margaret Hunter the other day, I articulated a trend from our Watching Black Girls Who Twerk on YouTube dataset. The trend is that others are gaining the most value (economic and social currency) from making fun of black girls and women. The trend is profoundly encapsulated by Nicki Minaj in an on-screen interview from The Ellen Degeneres Show (Nov 2013) just after MileyGate:
“If a black person do a black thang?!? It ain’t dat poppin!” – Minaj
Her use of the colloquial term “poppin‘” in all its multiple meanings boils to one–a common hip-hop lyrical and music video trope: popping a women’s booty to make it rain. It also refers to seducing viewer’s attention which is critical in popular music media culture as well as to cause a stir or create drama such that people are talking about you (think Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” or Minaj’s “Anaconda” video). It’s all about the Benjamins, right? Dollar, dollar bills, y’all!
I don’t have much time to say much more but I wanted to open a conversation with my students and with the wordpress community and my followers. (Aside: I am thinking of moving this blog over to Tumblr because there are more black girls there online than here. Would you all be ok with that?).
The Counterfeit Culture of Black Girling Video View$
I’ll close with two quotes from two disparate but tangentially related camps. One is the Race Traitor community that has mounted a new abolition movement to end white superiority in our cultures.
Race Traitor: “We do not hate you or anyone else for the color of her skin. What we hate is a system that confers privileges (and burdens) on people because of their color. It is not fair skin that makes people white; it is fair skin in a certain kind of society, one that attaches social importance to skin color. When we say we want to abolish the white race, we do not mean we want to exterminate people with fair skin. We mean that we want to do away with the social meaning of skin color, thereby abolishing the white race as a social category. Consider this parallel: To be against royalty does not mean wanting to kill the king. It means wanting to do away with crowns, thrones, titles, and the privileges attached to them. In our view, whiteness has a lot in common with royalty: they are both social formations that carry unearned advantages.” – Noel Ignatiev 
I first heard about them 8-9 years ago when the use how counterfeit money or currency works in the U.S. as a metaphor for disrupting the system of white privilege. The US government must vigilantly fight against counterfeit dollars because 10% of more would corrupt our currency. The whole system would crumble — partly because, in my thinking, that if 10% of the population couldn’t tell the difference between the real and fake money, and that 10% told 20 people, the exponential impact would be seen within weeks. So you must guard against tainting the supply.
How to Detect Counterfeit Money (U.S. Secret Service): “The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency [could you swap “whiteness” and “patriarchy” here]. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency [or the social system of white privilege or patriarchy]. Look at the money [value] you receive. Compare a suspect note [non-white/female] with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics [think YouTube views as currency]. Look for differences, not similarities.”
All this has me speculating. Do videos like the one above devalue what it means to be a black girl on YouTube? Is there is any value left on YouTube when you can generate traffic exponentially by “black girling” your content? But when it comes to the real thing, “it ain’t dat poppin'”!
I am using “value” here in the sense of monetizing your content as well as gaining social currency as a viral video. Does the video above taint the integrity of what it really means to be a black girl. How will viewers get the difference since the authentic version is rarely given attention.
What kinds of video do girls need to make to be more than a $tereotype that generates traffic by always being the butt of jokes including the drama that surfaces in discourse around black girls’ booty-shaking. Even there I have evidence that white girls get much more attention and views for doing what black girls do. Even Miley Cyrus can trump Minaj, Rihanna or Beyoncé on YouTube. Not combined by Iggy and Cyrus can step in and step out. Do the counterfeit moment and jump back into whiteness for profit.
What is the true value of broadcasting black girlhood?
How do we see or better yet, trust, the true value of being a black girl with these counterfeits of currency circulating on YouTube — the most public, public on the planet as Mike Wesch articulated in his YouTube ethnography.
We had the amazing blogger interested in digital black girls Hannah Giorgis visit our ANT4800 class this week. I audio recorded her visit. I may upload it if she gives us permission. She opened up a dialogue with a provocative quote from Junot Diaz, whose work I have yet to discover but if this is any indication, I am way behind the curve and will be catching up. And from this quote I got deeply connected to that my Black Girls YouTube project on twerking is very much about making some new mirrors for girls and for us women, too.
“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
MORE TO COME:
Stay tuned for a new vlog of mine on twerking and a video from my distinguished lecture at Rollins College last week.
When we think of African American popular music, our first thought is probably not of double-dutch: girls bouncing between two twirling ropes, keeping time to the tick-tat under their toes. But this book argues that the games black girls play –handclapping songs, cheers, and double-dutch jump rope–both reflect and inspire the principles of black popular musicmaking. – Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D.
BLACK GIRLS, HANDCLAPS & A DOUBLE-DUTCH ROPE
I was searching through my YouTube messages and subscribers today. Never even looked at who’s subscribed to my YouTube account before. Still learning the ropes of the YouTube community. I lucked upon the channel of EbonyJanice Peace who subscribes to my channel. I subscribed to hers and checked out her videos. Lo and behold, she is talking my talk–handclapping game-songs and the underlying meaning of the lyrics we chanted day in and day out.
Joan Morgan’s seminal text When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost inspired EbonyJanice to vlog about several handclapping game chants unpacking the suggestive meanings in all.
She asks the question that guided my work for my book The Games Black Girls Play. She asked
74% of young girls say they are under pressure to please someone.
― Eve Ensler, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls, 2010
“Loneliness, Cacioppo points out, has nothing to do with how many people are physically around us, but has everything to do with our failure to get what we need from our relationships.”
― David DiSalvo, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite
“Cherish your solitude. … Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. … Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.”
― Eve Ensler
I’ve been thankin’
This past weekend I attended an amazing training during which I discovered that I tend to misinterpret my assessments as results or reality. It’s not something I’ve ever noticed or understood about myself before. As a professor, this can be harmful to myself and to the people I train to think for themselves. It’s also costly in doing research on YouTube. I also learned that how I best learn is from thinking and reflecting. So what I have started to do as a habit is whenever I get upset, I go to reading something outside myself or getting out of my head (trapped in my ego) to learn something about what I am struggling with — alone.
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
— Isaac Newton
Yesterday, after being in a tailspin about a decision I made, I went to my Kindle Reader and opened Chapter 5 of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by science writer David DiSalvo. The chapter is titled “Immersion and the Great Escape“.
DiSalvo discusses how our brains have the capacity to split and collapse two “existences” — or role-playing in immersive e-media like Twitter and Facebook and our face-to-face interactions. Pre-digital era days we played with multiple existences such as in playing Dungeons and Dragons or for girls playing with dolls or putting ourselves in Diana Ross’s place while practicing the choreography of The Supremes with your female playmates. I remember playing with my two female cousins and one of their best friends. We played with heternormative roles. Who was married to which Jackson Five. The most ambitious girl to yell first got Michael. Sometimes it was the oldest girl. Sometimes it was the girl who say “let’s play” whatever game that was invented from our imagination.
Does Musical Immersion = Identity in 21st Century?
DiSalvo suggests that this two existences we now contend with–online role-playing in immersive e-media like the interactions around the recent audio remix released by Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj and face-to-face connections off-line.
DiSalvo provides scientific data from pscyhology and neuroscience that suggests loneliness (feeling lonely vs. being alone) is correlates to a strong desire to create social conflict. We then adapt to a need for this kind of engagement as dopamine is released in our brains. Then those of us who are lonely using online immersive media as a surrogate for real connections will often seek more of that kind of engagement. Engagement or social conflicts that are not good for us.
Online we seek the rewards of likes, our brain gets lit up when we check FB or other social media like our YouTube videos to see how many views we have. We get more value in such a context from our human-digital interface. Your favorite mobile device carried 24-7–always one is your BFF mediating conversations about stars like Beyoncé that seem really relevant to our reality.
What’s Real vs. Relevant?
In this context, our brain suffers a kind of reward-distinction blindness–for our online connections that is increasingly indistinguishable to our brain from F2F contact and this is a problem. It can lead to compulsive/addictive behavior. Many of our brains may be seeking the wrong kinds of rewards (socializing online more and more and diminishing our F2F connections daily). This is happening with YouTube videos on FB and on YouTube itself as well as other networks where online video takes our focus and attention more than other kinds of interactions. Hypernetworked sharing is seduction because of its immersiveness in our daily lives today. Our brains are seeking the surrogate relationships online and preferring them over face-to-face according to a number of studies DiSalvo references. This got me thankin’.
What if you and I began to unhook from social media? Would you be willing to test out possibility of confronting this kind of compulsive blindness to digital interactions? How often are you immersing yourself, isolating yourself primarily to online surrogate relations an hour? There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s 1440 minutes. Most of us should be spending 7-8 of those hours (420 – 480 minutes) sleeping and about 3-5 hours (180 – 300 mins) preparing to eat and eating. That leaves about 600 minutes. If you work 8 hours a day + travel if you don’t work at home, that’s 600 minute more leaving only 60 minutes remaining IF you are doing one thing and one thing only at a time. I probably spend the rest and some checking Facebook and email daily.
Are Black Girls Online Actually Lonely?
I read in a study that I don’t have handy that black youth spend more time alone than any other demographic. Strange, isn’t it? And don’t forget that being online is still being alone. Could we be masking our feelings of being alone with our surrogacy of social media? I been thankin’. Can’t speak for you but i know this is something to think about and strategically change as a habit.
What would you be willing to do to insure face-to-face interactions have more time, are more compelling, in your life each day?
I remember in my childhood my mother and the black women in her network would meet at my aunt’s house on a Saturday night to play pokeno. Check out this video of an elder black women teaching a group od sistas how to play.
I think I need more face-to-face play like this. More house parties. More dinner invitations for others to come chat with me. But I’m gonna start slow. I’m trying one social gathering a month and one meetup with another person or two a month. I think I’ll also vlog about the experience too.
“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna (this is from the YouTube video below. WATCH IT!!)
What are you creating? Content is becoming your identity? Your bottomline. Don’t trip! Create & Share! and Un-hook once a day!
… the appropriation of black culture by white suburban youth as being not only racist, but sexist….the phenomenon is definitely racist and simultaneously sexist. It creates a need for competition between the two races to maintain a hypermasculinity that is damaging not only to males, but females as well, on the basis of degradation of women by men that is further promoted in a manner in which females become willing participants in their own objectification and denigration.
A metamorphosis is then created whereby white supremacist assumptions about black culture are perpetuated and masculinity, as a performance, further marginalizes women and creates a movement of regression in response to advancements achieved by feminism. (Lemley, 2007)
Using our Bodies to Sell Us Out: Borrowing the Vernacular & Black Female Atttitude
My Mama utilized KMart’s layaway plan when I was in 7th grade. I remember she let me put a pair of brown cordoroy bell bottoms on lawaway — my first. A Senegalese man I dated said they also wore them in the 70s. The Francophone African culture called them “pattes d’éléphant” or “pattes d’eph” (meaning elephant feet or bell bottoms). Back in 1976, I was heading to a new school district entering junior high school. I’d moved to different schools since 4th grade so having the right clothes to fit in really mattered. It seemed like I was one of the last kids to catch on to the bell bottom fashion trend. Waiting for them was torture. My frugal single mom was working two jobs–one at Geico and the other at a liquor store in suburban Maryland–to pay off the balance. By the first week of classes, she made it happen. I had what I “needed” or wanted to fit in and thus began the adolescent socialization process of establishing friends (or not) and having the clothes that marked you in the right clique. I wanted to be part of the black girl clique from my neighborhood where lunchtime was card playing time. Spades every day! I still remember the underclass shaming among black kids that came with having to use layaway. My mother like most of our moms used layaway plans because they were being smart shoppers using the mechanisms available to them to access school clothes they could never buy outright. Other budgetary priorities were in demand. And my mother met all her bills on time.
BUYING IN TO FIT IN: KMART RELEASES “YO MAMA” AD
The youth culture at school–on the playground and in the hallways–on the other hand was about who got them first which was a sign of how facile your family was economically. Like it meant something to kids who earned NO MONEY to play the game of how much–pardon the pun–“booty” your family had. Did you have to wait to get your clothes or did you have the latest fashion sold? So it troubles me to see this new KMart advert where 2 urban-dressed black girls and 4 boys (South Asian, Latino and white) diss one another in black English vernacular “Yo Mamma” jokes revamped to laud the frugality that most kids have been socialized BY THE MEDIA to not even participate in. They are all about WHAT’S NEXT? What’s the latest fashion generally. And the pull of that consumerism is hard for most kids to resist in social settings like on the playground. I post it here inside of watching Black Girls on YouTube and inside of thinking about the work of Douglas Rushkoff. I was reading his 2000 London Times article “A Brand by Any Other Name: How Marketers Outsmart our Media-Savvy Children” published on PBS’s website.
The liberation children experience when they discover the Internet is quickly counteracted by the lure of e-commerce web sites, which are customized to each individual user’s psychological profile in order to maximize their effectiveness. [Read more here.]
Is this type of advertising annoying or empowering?
“Girls are not passive recipients of these cultural messages. Girls are active agents. We know from developmental cognitive psychology that young boys and girls, once they know what their gender is, are very motivated to be the best example of their gender. And if the examples of femininity around you are a sort of tarted up, pornographied sexuality, then that’s what you’re psyched to be.” Tomi-Ann Roberts
Join me as I launch my first missive to YouTube from my Black Girls Twerking Summer project with 19 students at Baruch.
Your thoughts and reactions are welcome! Your sharing with your network of teens of both sexes, parents, teachers and folks in black studies, girlhood studies, black feminist studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology and media studies is respectfully requested.