Forbes Reports YouTube’s Blocking Content of Indie Artists like Adele

Screenshot 2014-06-23 00.15.12


At the end of the summer, according to,. YouTube is supposedly launching a new music streaming service called “YouTube Music Pass“.

With it is likely to come the blocking of live concert appearances any day now that have been freely available on the distribution platform. Artists like Adele and Radiohead were mentioned as possible targets of blocking. Also, indie artists have not negotiated licensing agreements for their content like the three major labels – Sony, Warner and Universal. Indie  labels haven’t been offered the same deal. This leaves them vulnerable to being blocked soon, according to the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN).

According to, “the indies are being faced with two options; sign the licensing deals or face being left off the service AND have your content removed from the site.”

The Forbes article also quotes Kristoffer Rom, co-chairman of Danish indepependent label association DUP, who thinks this could kill the independent music industry. YouTube’s power as a platform comes from its music videos and if commercial videos remain there, indie artists will be pushed out like the old days of MTV. All of YouTube’s most-watched video except 3-4 in their top 30, are music videos, and 90% of those are VEVO videos. PSY ranks on top with over 2 billions views for one of his 3 videos topping those charts.

[YouTube] has also in the past made much of its support for independent artists, as [Rom] points out.

“YouTube’s self-proclaimed role as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small’ is little more than hollow branding of a company that in reality is losing touch with the very creators and audience that have bloated the size of the platform into the stratosphere over the years,” he says.

This will surely have some impact on the algorithms or killbots used to detect copyright infringement when it comes to user-generated content that includes commercially-recorded music. I wonder if user-generated videos of black girls twerking to hit rap songs will start to be blocked as YouTube’s begins to redine its brand around music. Only time will tell.


Reported info from:

Black Girls: Who Else “Owns” Your YouTube Video?

Body and soul, Black America reveals the extreme questions of contemporary life, questions of freedom and identity:
How can I be who I am?

– June Jordan

This summer i am using my Black Girls Who Twerk on YouTube research to teach my two intro to cultural anthropology courses. There is one black woman or black “girl” in each section. The rest include a Bangladeshi man, a Pakastani woman, a Russian woman who twerks and has shared that her boyfriend is/was black, men who identify as white–one who is Albanian, a woman who was born in Taiwan but has resided in Singapore and now NYC, a Puerto Rican man who has lived in Singapore who wants to be a professional writer, a recent immigrant for college from France who never knew much about black cultural identity and others. There’s 20 students in all. The two groups are nationally-diverse but their knowledge of black girls’ lives have been more or less limited…until now.

There is so much value from learning with people who have different perspectives of the world we share. We are starting to discover the power of doing ethnography and the unique things we can discuss by looking from different lens at black girls on YouTube. Our clashes of insight and sight reveal so much about how black girls are viewed, represented vs. how they represent themselves in ways. Both are distorted and affected by how others view black girls and women locally, nationally and internationally. Holistic or historical patterns of patriarchy (the views of boys/men), white superiority and beauty ideals, and a history of colorism or skin color politics within and without the black community are all filters for how we see black girls today. It’s hard for others in the public sphere to imagine much less appreciate the ideals and values of moving one’s hips in dance within many contexts of the black or African diaspora in the US and abroad.

Twerking in online video has somehow become the flipped imprimatur of black femaleness, meaning a YouTuber’s acceptance or guarantee that something is not of a good standard these days.


Watching Teen Black Girls Twerk on HisTube

In class this week, both sections got tripped up over the contexts that we take for granted on YouTube. That what we see is always the original online video of a black girl twerking.

A few students struggled over whether a video that we watched “belonged” to the young black girl dancing in the YouTube frame. I insisted it was not once I saw the channel and its owner. One student insisted like “can’t you see that’s really her in the video”. LOL. I helped her discover that there are number of videos most YouTubers may watch of black girls twerking that do not belong to the performer. Online videos are easily downloaded and uploaded as content to male creator’s channels. Most viewers do not check who published the video or who owns the channel. Most viewers mindlessly see just another black girl twerking from her bedroom or kitchen and add that to a list of things they think are deviant about the practice, making it public, not being respecable, or that girls diminish themselves by doing that dance. #respectabilitypolitricks

Many videos featuring a teen black girl dancing from her bedroom is not “owned” or “published” by her. The video below by subscriber dizzybundles806 is a case in point. Sometimes the performance isn’t actually twerking as is the case here despite the title. A title that lets us know what she’s doing is “ratchet” the code word for a lack of respect for oneself these days. But each of the over 9,000 views and 19 comments reflects a way in which a black girl stands in for all black girls in these views that are being generalized and collapsed into the latest stereotype of black femaleness. It is them freely promulgated by YouTubers like this one.



“WHO’S CHILD IS THIS: RATCHET BLACK GIRL TWERKING.” YouTube. dizzybundles806 (4 videos, 56 subscribers), 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 June 2014. .

This problem is an example of what Mike Wesch, along with danah boyd, as “context collapse“.  While the young girl dancing above did make an online video, the one that appears on dizzybundles806‘s channel is actually a reproduction, a copy that looks just like the original but surely without her consent. It appears that the channel belongs to a male. Since YouTube, as someone I heard say, is actually like a public utility available to us all, it seems like she cannot lay claim to consent.

Context collapse often leads viewers to overlook that we read things differently because of different contexts. Knowing this as the original selfie with 9,000 views is different than when the online video of the girl is used on another channel to get views, to garner traffic and eyes. I’ll say more about his channel in a sec but this is not uncommon for males to repost videos by black women in some sort of free trade agrement on YouTube. Far too many twerking videos do not “belong” to the channel owner but may be read as if it’s just the girl. What’s one girls loss is another channel owner’s gain in social capital and perhaps even real currency.

Most girls who create these videos may or may not be hip to this. How do we become more media literate about it? How do we educate these lil’ sisters that their  original online video is potentially of more value to others than to herself? If she’s not aware?  In the YouTube media ecology consent shifts to really knowing how to own your own body image in online video.

There is another aspect to the impact of this recirculation. It produces a kind of cultural noise about the social capital among viewers (non-black and black) who find black girls’ revelry before the glass dot discordant with public opinion about everyday black girls. Then real black girls may find themselves challenged and reshaping their sense of self, around expressing their sexuality on and offline, not just with the booty backin that thang up to a YouTube webcam in their bedroom, but also in other public, and less virtual, spaces after boys and men have learned they can handle “them” any way they want on YouTube. The offline reality is this: they may not be safe anywhere.

A study conducted by The Black Women’s Health Imperative seven years ago found the rate of sexual assault was approximately 40%. – Brooke Axetell 2011 in Forbes Magazine.

Black female victims of sexual assault are, on average, eight years old when they experience their first incidence of sexual abuse (Carolyn M. West 2002: 28).

Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18.4….Stereotypes regarding African American women’s sexuality, including terms like “Black jezebel,” “promiscuous,” and “exotic,” perpetuate the notion that African American women are willing participants in their own victimization.”

The expression “possession is nine tenths of the law” is apropos here as rates of sexaul assault and rape increase in the lives of black girls today. You get to freely publish or broadcast yourself twerking but at a much higher cost than I assert non-black girls or those who are not twerking in their videos.

Blackness, black femaleness, shows up in certain lights that others don’t, especially in light of persistent racialized and sexualizing stereotypes about black teenage girls.

HisTube not HerTube

Here are thumbnails from the 4 videos on the channel. He earned almost 10,000 views from Miss Thang’s original video. That might have turned into a little bit of money if he had ads associated with his account but that is not guaranteed unless you really go viral.  And then it’s only about $2 per 1000 views (CPMs – cost per thousand impressions). That money, if any was earned, could have gone to the black girl who made the video.

From checking out his range of videos we see the distribution encompasses some fascination with objcctifying black girls’ bodies and one video about a rap battle turning into a gang fight. YouTube is all about this kind of shock value and when it comes to black girls, they are objects of drawing eyes to channels as deviant, out of place and out of bounds, youth or females.

How we assign or attribute ownership in YouTube without checking shapes the plight of our conception of black girls online. Yes, she made the video, but no that is not HER channel. She is not gaining social capital the way he is from reposting it and most young girls do not have the technical know-how to trace where their video images end up. Most people don’t. So that’s what we are up to this week.

After a year of study of YouTube videos featuring black girls who twerk and to a lesser degree black women rappers, I am just starting to understand what is going on in the media ecology of YouTube. More to come from what we discover this summer. I intend to vlog once a week about this from now on. Be on the lookout for my vlogs.

Spreading Ideas by Black Girls

Black girls can colloquially mean a young or older black girl to signify the sisterhood we share and perhaps to signify unconsciously on that time of life when we are least bound by the conventions of respectability, beauty and competition with men and other women.

Each week I want to share a TED Talk by a black girl.  This one speaks how our native orientations to English make a difference and point to differences. I spoke last week about linguistic productivity — the ability to make new meaning with words and ideas in our discourse. I want to start a movement of black girls who take twerking videos and start thinking about producing new ideas with them. Adding their voice and speaking texts or poetry with their own dance. Remixing Beyonce or feminist speeches by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or June Jordan to their own videos. Remixing empowering ideas whether visual, textual or aural with twerking videos to learn to play with new narratives about themselves.

We deserve to make our own meanings! Let’s bring curiosity to our own sites of practice on YouTube.

Juneteenth: First-Hand Literacy and Freedom

 “…i wanted to be a new person and my rebirth was stifled not by the master but the slave.” – Nikki Giovanni.



Celebrating Juneteenth – and a letter from my great great grandfather

The United States freed its last slaves on this day June 18, 1865, 149 years ago. Officially commemorated as Juneteenth, this holiday goes unmarked and unnoticed by the majority Americans, including many African-Americans. Which begs the question: why? When TED Fellow Kyra Gaunt received a copy of a letter from her great great grandfather, a former slave who had escaped via the Underground Railroad, his handwritten words opened her eyes to how limited, fragmented and ephemeral narratives of slavery still are. A shorter version of this story appears on the ideas page of

NOTE: I hope readers will consider that online literacy leads to emancipation for black girls and others, too.

In March 2014, I was struck with tears after opening an email from my mother that began: “Read this history about your great, great, great grandfather. Wow, what a rich heritage!”

Attached was a copy of a letter, titled “LETTER FROM SHERIDAN FORD, IN DISTRESS.” I was a letter my great, great, great grandfather had written in 1855, 159 years ago on February 15th. He’d recently escaped slavery in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the Underground Railroad. I was reading the words of one of my kin — in his own hand.

The letter had been sent to my family by a reporter from Portsmouth, who explained that Ford had written this letter to a friend once he’d reached Philadelphia, entreating him to help his (first) wife and children, who were in jail at the time. They would be left behind; a causality of emancipation. The letter had been published in 1872, in a book by William Still — a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Here is the text in full: 


BOSTON, MASS., Feb. 15th, 1855.

No. 2, Change Avenue.

 MY DEAR FRIEND:—Allow me to take the liberty of addressing you and at the same time appearing troublesomes you all friend, but subject is so very important that i can not but ask not in my name but in the name of the Lord and humanity to do something for my Poor Wife and children who lays in Norfolk Jail and have Been there for three month i Would open myself in that frank and hones manner. Which should convince you of my cencerity of Purpoest don’t shut your ears to the cry’s of the Widow and the orphant & i can but ask in the name of humanity and God for he knows the heart of all men. Please ask the friends humanity to do something for her and her two lettle ones i cant do any thing Place as i am for i have to lay low Please lay this before the churches of Philadelphaise beg them in name of the Lord to do something for him i love my freedom and if it would do her and her two children any good i mean to change with her but cant be done for she is Jail and you most no she suffer for the jail in the South are not like yours for any thing is good enough for negros the Slave hunters Says & may God interpose in behalf of the demonstrative Race of Africa Whom i claim desendent i am sorry to say that friendship is only a name here but i truss it is not so in Philada i would not have taken this liberty had i not considered you a friend for you treaty as such Please do all you can and Please ask the Anti Slavery friends to do all they can and God will Reward them for it i am shure for the earth is the Lords and the fullness there of as this note leaves me not very well but hope when it comes to hand it may find you and family enjoying all the Pleasure life Please answer this and Pardon me if the necessary sum can be required i will find out from my brotherinlaw i am with respectful consideration.



The Debt of Forced Migration: Local Memory

I was overcome with heavy tears at what this letter meant to me. His writing spoke of options I never knew or realized slaves had even as a professor. He was literate and well versed in writing by 1855, and he clearly articulates the value his freedom in ways no Hollywood script by Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino could ever aptly capture. This was not mediated by images but across generations of forgotten memories of my kin.

Here was a letter written phonetically in respectably lucid language, five years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act from the Compromise of 1850 – which ended Reconstruction and led to the discriminatory, second-class ranking Jim Crow laws. My great great grandfather could have been snatched back to the South if ever found in the North by his lawful captors.

This is more than any memory passed down orally, and better than any autobiography published in a book. It was evidence, a liberated truth. It was a local knowledge penned in a formerly enslaved man’s full grasp of a belief in God, his humanity and the justice in being newly free.

It seemed like a miracle to read the words of someone who I am related to, who I could trace to my bloodline instead of some generalized story about slavery.

Why? White Americans aren’t the only ones who don’t like to remember slavery and its history.


 1863: 5 Million Freed, 1 Million Lost

According to the 2013 US Census, there are 41 million people who identify as African-American and I could lay money on that fewer than 1% will publicly celebrate the 150th anniversary of June 19th, or what we call “Juneteenth” — also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day — when it rolls around next year, even though the holiday is recognized in 43 of our so-called united states.

On that day in 1865, the state of Texas freed the last enslaved Africans in America. They were not slaves, they were Africans. General Order No. 3 was announced in Galveston: 

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States [originally signed two years earlier by Abraham Lincoln], all slaves are free. … The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

African Americans don’t have many stories about our enslaved ancestors or their escape.

When I grew up no one talked about slaves inside black family life. Slaves were objects in public debates, always referred to in some generalized manner and the talk was always “we come from slaves” (not enslaved Africans). We were property – not our humanity or ethnicity. And we had our nationality stripped with every stroke of a slavemaster’s whip.

Most people today know they set “us” free in 1863. But no one ever knew told me that Lincoln freed 5 million enslaved African people and that 1 million of the newly liberated women, men and children died within the first year. With Emancipation came starvation and other effects of being freed among Southerners who still wished to chase former slaves with bloodhounds in the name of their own right to life, liberty and property.

Kunte Kinte

The birth of Kunte Kinte in the ABC Miniseries Roots by Alex Haley, 1977. Maya Angelou and Cicely Tyson appear with infant. The book was released in 1976 during the bicentennial celebration of the founding of the USA.

African American remembering is more lore than lived memory. Most often we cherry-pick popular slave narratives or mediated memories like those in Alex Haley’s ABC mini-series Roots: “Behold! The only thing greater than yourself!” Comedy is sadly much more common. Our memories are like second-hand clothes, mediated scripts of third-world stories. They carry no local knowledge or memory at all of the broken backs who once carried them. Mostly, we nurse broken memories of forced migrations thrown overboard.

When we do get to the real memories, we try to tell “the right” story, the “grotesque” how-could-they-do-this-to-us story, or the capitalism-was-built-on-the-back-of-the-debt-paid-with-our-free-labor-and-forced-sex story. There’s Toni Morrison’s story of a mother’s love expressed in the salvation of killing her children rather than allowing them live as chattel slaves. But mother’s love is supposed to deny such a thing as infanticide. 

Most African-Americans will never even have read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. I haven’t, though I have quoted a part about singing. I didn’t even know it was from his tongue. I own a recording of his words loudly declaimed by esteemed actor Ossie Davis on a set of recordings about African American music:

Slaves were expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave was not liked.

And thus, we continue our silence in a post-racial America.


Today, many African Americans do not know Douglass’s literate freedom nor Harriet Jacobs. We remain in the bondage of our own lack of curiosity surrounded by institutional miseducation about who we were and who we can be. So reading the handwritten words of my grandfather’s grandfather first-hand — it changed something in me.

It turns out that we were more than anything I had ever learned — more literate, more compassionate, more enlightened — and we must be re-membered to more of these kinds of memories. The inscribed evidence: “i love my freedom.” An ownership of not just one’s liberty but of one’s own literacy. I can now claim my descendance from the Race of Africa from the words of my own kin, from within my immediate family, and not from some televised fiction. No more silence, writing next time.

Find William Still’s book, The Underground Railroad, in which Sheridan Ford’s letter was originally published, on

How To Make Sexual Objectification Palatable: Add Orchestra to “Baby Got Back”

 “…the girl figure continues to be colonised, exploited, abused and commodified have perhaps intensified in an ever increasing global girl market, where ‘girl’ becomes synonymous with ‘sex’” (Renold and Ringrose, 2013).

Revised 6:22pm June9, 2014

How to Make Sexual Objectification Sell

You know how to make anything “black” that is sexually reprehensible to most black women palatable and also make it go viral 20 years after it was nearly banned as a rap song on MTV for its language and objectification of black women’s asses? Set it to classical music or perform it with a reputable classical orchestra?

Today, Gawker featured a YouTube video of Sir Mix-a-lot performing his 1992 megahit “Baby Got Back” with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for the 3rd season of its critically acclaimed Sonic Evolution project, which creates a bridge between the Symphony and Seattle’s storied reputation as launching pad for some of the most creative musicians on the popular music scene. Obviously, their definition of “creativity” is collapsed quite neatly with “commercial saleability”.

Creativity for Sale

I wouldn’t qualify “Baby Got Back” as one of the most creative songs out of the Seattle hip-hop scene, but (and I do mean butt) it did rank second in sales back in 1992 to Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You“, just for perspective. Whitney’s version, arranged it for an R&B audience with David Foster, is considered one of the greatest songs of all time–both for its creativity and its sales–and the single became Houston’s longest run at number one, smashing her previous record, which was three weeks with 1986’s, “Greatest Love of All.”

I bet if you checked out the numbers of views for all the versions of “Baby Got Back” on YouTube, including “Baby Got Back Sung to the Movies” with over 3 million views, they would all collectively make it the greatest love of all rap songs among online videos. But at what cost?



Sellin’ Steatopygia as Currency

It’s great that Anthony Ray aka Six Mix-a-lot got to share his music with a new audience at the Seattle Symphony, while white women throng from the orchestra seats to be close to big daddy and shake their thang on a night at the symphony. But what impact does this have on black women like me and others who despise the objectification of our body image? It’s like the Hottentot Venus ain’t needed no more but we can still dance to the tune of her subjugation and oppression centuries later. It’s much safer to get all those Beckys from the audience to fill in for us. If black women’s bodies are not hidden in some teddy bear costume while their butts are gettin smacked by white female artists climbed the record charts, then it’s stand ins, wannabes, who absolutely love that song and wanna share it with the world. Meanwhile, black girls twerking in videos are disparaged. In all cases, women ain’t gettin’ paid for their views online or at the orchestra but the quite willing to oblige the audience.

So, your best bet to get views on YouTube would be 1) set it to a live classical orchestra,  2) do a remix or some version of Baby Got Back to remind people how novel that song can be 20 years later, and 3) be sure NOT to include any black women or girls though the whole lyric signifies Sir Mix-a-Lot’s love for the Steatopygia (the high accumulation of fat on and around the buttocks) which had Europeans parade a young African woman named Sara Baartman around in a cage as mass entertainment in the 19th century. Yeah! I know why the caged bird sings!!


A Predictable Canon in D (D is for “Daughters”)

If you wanna be a disc digger about songs that sample classical music, Rap Genius has a collection of YouTube rap videos that sample classical music.  Nas did it. He set the rap “(I Know) I Can” to Beethoven’s bagatelle “Für Elise” to make a hit that featured one of his first attempts to deal with misogyny in rap. Why? Because he had a daughter and finally cared. That’s how it always goes, right? Male rappers who swipe credit cards between black women’s asses to get more video views or pour champagne over black female bodies only respect their mama and their daughter and all the other women be damned.

As I write about how neoliberalism–negative implications of globalization and free trade, I’ve been thinking about how YouTube being free comes at a cost to black girls who twerk. I have lots more to say but for now, I hope you’ll share this post to counter, even on a minimal level, the millions of views that this classicized version of sexual objectification will get. It’s not about my getting more views, but I am trying to change the visual and linguistic discourse of YouTube’s gendered media ecology esp. relating to its most explicit rap videos that still exploit black female body imagery to get it’s economic groove on.

On Patriarchal Discourse

By discourse, for those who think that’s academic talk, it simply means “the learned words and language (verbal and non-verbal, musical and non-musical, on-stage, backstage and off stage) we use to exchange of ideas about male and female behavior in public settings like YouTube and social media. We prefer to leave the context of patriarchy (and white privilege), out of the picture like musical chord changes don’t have a key shaping our expression. We’re much better at the tonality when it comes capitalism in genres, spaces and sounds but not so much with patriarchy or sexuality studies. Without dealing with the key we are in, the tonality, we don’t have to analyze how patriarchy in neoliberal capitalism shapes who gets work, who teaches, and what kind of musical, cultural and linguistic or conversational environment gets economic remuneration and which others get less pay or are completely ignored.

Obviously, Six Mix-a-lot and the orchestral conductor are gettin’ paid. Becky and Shaniqua are not.

Kyraocity’s Ask:

  1. What do you think about the video?
  2. Am I being too sensitive or right on target?


Quote above from:

Emma Renold and Jessica Ringrose. 2013. “Feminisms re-figuring ‘sexualisation’, sexuality and ‘the girl’. Feminist Theory 14(3) 247–254.

Courage as Home: Maya’s Call to Rise & Represent Self Well!

Your destiny is to develop the courage to flesh out the great dreams, to dare to love, to dare to care, to dare to want to be significant and to admit it, not by the things you own or the positions you hold, but by the lives you live.

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

Screenshot 2014-06-07 12.40.25


What if courage was a place called home?

What if courage was a place we called home? What if the rising Maya Angelou spoke into existence from “Still I Rise” was a returning to one’s self, one’s spirit, what one was put her on the planet to do fuller than you, your ego, will allow you to see in the storm?  This is the gift of the life of Dr. Maya Angelou. I call her doctor cuz she’s been our shaman of humanity, from its dark recesses with its darts and its dawns of soft slow rising or blazing revelations. I bless her today as her homegoing service just concluded at 12:30 today livestreamed online by Wake Forest University, her academic home.

De-segregation of spirit: Be ready!

We black girls and women have a special place in our hearts for what Maya Angelou provided before we even read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She sang my song for me before I knew it had a tune. She recalled my mother’s and my mother’s mother’s journeys before Segregation. She stood as a testament to we are not our past and we are always creating our future and that everything we do in life we define. The creative act of rising to each bitter and sweet occasion whether lied about or to, whether talked about or called out of our names as bitches, hos, mammys, negras, or even when we aren’t even aware of our own self-destruction, we still have the opportunity in this life to rise.

So all  there is is to be ready!! Be willing. You and I are always able!!

Rest in power, in our love, and in our future endeavors to rise to all you left for us to create from Dr. Maya!!

“somebody/ anybody
sing a black girl’s song
bring her out
to know herself
to know you
but sing her rhythms
carin/ struggle/ hard times
sing her song of life
she’s been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn’t know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty
she’s half-notes scattered
without rhythm/ no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.”

― Ntozake Shangefor colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Kyraocity Speaks!

What if courage was a place called home for black girls, for black women, for all women, for all of humanity to sing from? What if we brought this to our notions of our online reputation and how we present our self in the media? Black girls pay attention!! It matters more than most for you to represent without falling into somebody’s respectability politics but to consider your own future identity which only you can build but hundreds online will encourage you to damage. Be ready!! 


International Children’s Day! Do Your Thang…and Switch!!

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.

– Margaret Mead

This is the fate of colored girls globally right now: the denial of their girlhood, the denial of their childhood, and the constant state of risk and danger they are living in.”

                                                      ― bell hooks


I spent the day writing and grading and thinking about my long term plans for publishing articles and for empowering black female YouTube content creators via my collaborations with my students. It was a powerful weekend where feelings of play were present but not feelings of being a child, with no control, over how life goes. It was an energetic, focused, and peaceful day at home. Last weekend I went to see the Kara Walker installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Going again soon. You must not miss this!! Check our the inspiration for the installation from Kara’s sketches here.

Lush Tongue Restoration

Yesterday, I had a rehearsal and vibes sessions with members of Lush Tongue, a feminist vocal acappella group led by Onome Om that I recently joined. We have our first performance June 7th at LAVA in Brooklyn. To get acquainted we shared the moment(s) we decided music was our lives.

The five women present from the 6 member ensemble shared all the typical ways patriarchy in musical settings can shut you down, steal your voice. They also shared of family and father figures who helped give their musical expression voice. And I shared about how my developing vocal memoir seems to be all about men in and around my life.

So what does all this have to do with International Children’s Day you might ask?

Anybody Sing Me a Black Girls’ Song

I don’t know. But I do think that WHO we all have become as women started at a very young age and shaped our mindset about being female, about the context of life where men and boys seem to rule, and how to bargain for more power and more voice even at a young age. Girls’ agency matters. And I think we owe subsequent generations of children and especially girls — present and in the future to come — an opportunity to know childhood as a space of wholeness, and holiness, for their personhood and their particular ethnic culture.

Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states:

In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

This applies to black girls twerking off- and online, black girls rapping off- and online, black girls beatboxing and breakin’ off- and online, and just being themselves – quirky, funny, nerdy, sexy, creative, curious, patient, entrepreneurial and smart on- and offline. All of our lives, and especially children’s lives and even moreso the lives of girls of color here in the US and girls living in poverty abroad, are changing in ways we cannot always see, witness (despite the publicness of everything via online video today), or understand fully, online.

Your online reputation today may make or break you tomorrow. So watch out!

For some fun, here are some short YouTube videos of girls’ from around the world playing the kind of games I wrote about in my first book. These are black girls’ games off-line.

Happy International Children’s Day!!
(yesterday now that I am posting past midnight)






Kyraocity Werks!!

Til next time.

“…metaphors w…

“…metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power…”

When Nietzsche writes of the power of representation, often everyday folk will not think of how for example picking a iTunes radio channel of “singer-songwriters” usually excludes black voices (and other underrepresented classes) despite the apparent diversity of styles and indie artists. Nor will the think of the power of that symbolic omission. 

When I teach about black girls on YouTube and how representations of twerking work in a political sociological sense, how the YouTube music business is thriving, riding on their tails in a complicated postmodern way, usually everyday folk don’t think about it’s happening to them. We are all implicated by these signs of identification, symbolic universes of representation in the name of “broadcasting self.”

YouTube is a complicated political maelstrom masquerading as mere entertainment. My work on black girlhood in the streets and on YouTube is an attempt to reclaim the sensuous power of self creation in spite of the rampant stereotyping of black girls’ bodies, choices, agency; to reclaim the symbolic space for their development and freedom in a world, a marketplace, indifferent to the equality of their human growth and development in their communities, in this nation and in the world. 

“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Rihanna Breaks 5 billion views – New VEVO Record on YouTube

“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.” 

― John BergerWays of Seeing

Under Music News the Film Industry Network website just reported hours ago that “Pour It Up” twerk queen Rihanna is the first artist to reach 5 Billion views beating out Bieber and Eminem among VEVO YouTubers. Wait! They aren’t like us regular YouTubers. They got back! Big media junk in the trunk! So, all eyes on RiRi are not simply generated by her as a content creator! This is the big artillery of producing views as currency.

The average CPMs (cost per thousand views) on YouTube is $7.60. $7.60 x 5 billion views = 38 BILLION! dollars of ad revenues split by YouTube, VEVO, RiRi and her management. I think that answers the question in the title of her last single release What Now #ifitaintbroke. What Now, with its creepy, gothic video effects, has accrued over 93 million views since it was released on YouTube on November 15, 2013.




With nearly 14 million subscribers Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty (b. 1988), has the most popular VEVO channel among artists on YouTube. With 5 BILLION views she is just ahead of The Bieber who has 4.81 billion views but has over 4 million fewer subscribers. Lady Gaga has just over half RiRi’s total at 2.81 million viewers.

Rihanna has not released any new music videos on her VEVO channel this year despite breaking the 5 billion milestone. (Film Industry Network Staff).



MILEY SPOILER ALERT #youknowyoucare

In 2013, it was Miley Cyrus who snagged the title of the two most watched music videos of the year. The video of her twerking, “We Can’t Stop,” ranked No. 2 in a list of VEVO’s Top 10 Most Viewed Music Videos of 2013. Her music video “Wrecking Ball” came in No. 1 now with over 640 million views in 8 months. Rihanna’s “Diamonds” ranked No. 4 (thankfully well ahead of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell) with 433+ million views accumulated since its 2012 YouTube release.






As the challenge to net neutrality surfaces again, the issue of the Internet (incl YouTube) as a kind of public utility where the masses can exercise their free speech (and protest) unencumbered is about to be proposed to Congress again. This challenge if lost will “give mega-corporations like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon the green light to discriminate against content they don’t like,” according to Rashad Robinson, executive director of  #searchaaronswartzandlearnmore

It is great that Rihanna has VEVO to drive eyes to her music videos as part of her image-making machinery. But most ordinary black girls won’t be able to use YouTube’s free distribution platform the same way is this issue gets passed they way the big corporations want it too as well as Obama (despite his campaign promises). Girls ages 13-17 and 18-24 may be able to make their own YouTube videos whether twerking selfies, hair videos, or other kinds of personal vlogs, but this net neutrality thing means reversing the inequality gaps that Twitter for instance has come to defy despite the existences of inequalities of race and sex (read about the power shift at the NYT this week).  If net neutrality dies, it won’t hurt the few RiRi’s in the music industry–black women with power–but it will affect the Shaniquas trying to get locally paid via a YouTube channel.


This blog is becoming my platform to learn and to educate others about how YouTube, the music on YouTube and other aspects of participatory culture affects black girls content creation (or lack there of) esp. as it relates to the volunteer service I believe twerking as music videos provide for the likes of VEVO, mostly male rap artists like Juicy J (and his $50K scholarship contest) and now white female artists beyond rap, and even local brick and mortar and online businesses that trade on porn or strip clubs.

I found a playlist titled “Pretty Young Twerkers – Teen Black Girls Twerking Volume 2” on the channel MyBlackCrush that leads to a porn site. These were separate videos young girls made put into a playlist that brings views and surely ad revenues to a male YouTuber. Volunteer Service. Just giving it away and most girls probably don’t know it. I am trying to learn the discourse of YouTube to share here to educate girls how to better protect their online content, esp. content like twerking videos.

I am also exploring ways to upgrade girls video technical skills here with some how-to videos and a great idea coming real soon. What video techniques could black girl YouTubers borrow from Rihanna’s video to upgrade a twerking video beyond just vlogging with your back to the webcam? How might they give voice to the technical skills they could be developing their twerking videos.

That’s what I am thinking about tonight!

Kyraocity Works! 

More soon!

©2014  All photo copyright belongs to the blog author. Photos captured via iPhone.