Twerk sumn! theorizing Black girl epistemology in the body

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23 Scopus citations


In conversations about appropriation and appreciation, twerking is illustrated as a medium that non-Black people are celebrated for (with awards and global tours), while Black people–especially Black girls–are not afforded just celebrations. Using the ‘Dunham method’ and the current critical discourses surrounding twerking, this essay explores the possibilities for self-expression and sexuality for Black girls. Using Beyoncé’s music video for ‘Sorry’ and Louisiana rapper Tokyo Vanity’s music video for ‘That’s My Best Friend’ (2015), in this essay I consider the possibilities for visible sexual self-expression for Black girls in a digital world. I argue that Black girls’ use of twerking videos to celebrate and challenge each other’s self-expression provides an opportunity to enjoy their bodies and reclaim the possibilities of pleasure in blackness and girlhood/womanhood. I extend contemporary Black feminist scholarship on Black women’s sexuality to consider Black girls as an epistemological imperative in the future of Black feminist scholarship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-891
Number of pages18
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Appropriation
  • dance
  • hip-hop
  • performance
  • pleasure
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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