Music VideosNews

Is Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” video racist?

on August 18, 2014, 7:59pm

Taylor Swift is the latest high-profile musician to come under fire for alleged racism as some have accused her latest music video of appropriating black culture. In the video for “Shake It Off”, which serves as the lead single to her new album 1989, Taylor dresses in variety of outfits, including a ballerina, a cheerleader, a break dancer, a cross between Lady Gaga and Kraftwerk, and a rapper. It’s the latter that has drawn criticism from some on Twitter, specifically over the black female dancers who twerk alongside her. (The video will no doubt draw comparisons to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” video, which also came under fire for featuring black female dancers twerking.)

Below, you’ll find a collection of some of the more critical tweets. Update: Earl Sweatshirt has also expressed his opinion, calling the video “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful.”

Others have come to Taylor’s defense, however; specifically, a post on the Tumblr page Orhgasm has gained a bit of traction online. It reads as such:

as a proud ass black man, the taylor swift video for her new song “shake it off” was not problematic or even close to racist.

If you bothered to watch the video, the video was about being happy and dancing and celebrating other people’s dancing. One of them happened to include twerking. Taylor was not “cultural appropriating” anything and she wasn’t “being racist” by only having black woman in that part of the video. there are many other african americans in the video and in her many other videos so even calling her racist means you need to log out. She was celebrating people’s dancing and how they celebrate music throughout the video and a large variety of black woman twerk. Would it honestly make sense if Taylor had 100 or so white girls try to twerk? Either way, y’all would still throw hate or shade either way. But calling her racist is the shit I don’t stand for because she isn’t.

Watch the full video below.


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bill burch
August 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm

maybe because I’m older, I saw it differently. I saw someone trying different things with different groups of people,that she obviously couldn’t do,shook them off and finally found a group as spastic as herself and danced with them. y yall so anxious to jump on this racist band wagon,no matter what anyones doin?

Carole Lewis
August 21, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I agree with you Bill!

I think people need to get a life!!!

August 31, 2014 at 6:15 am

I agree I don’t find it racist at all, it is no surprise that black women have more rhythm and tweak better than anyone I would accept that as a compliment. It’s also amazing how people always fine faults in everything, see it for what it is a light hearted music video!!!

September 9, 2014 at 1:19 am

Should’ve quit while you were ahead.

Tiffiney Thomas (@TiffineyThomas)
October 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I’m a black woman and I 100% see Taylor Swifts video as nothing but a BEAUTIFUL young woman show casing different styles of dancing from different groups of people, singing a song about believing in yourself and ignoring those who try and tear you down! NOTHING RACIST ABOUT THIS VIDEO!!!

And seeing as there are white and black chics twerking, you would have to be a jealous, self conscious, insecure, in need of serious mental health help to accuse Taylor Swift of being a racist!!!

People need to stop crying wolf…

And by the way there are black women dancing contemporary!!! So in the words of the dude from Tumbler, “Ya’ll would throw hate or shade either way. BUT CALLING HER A RACIST IS THE SHIT I DONT STAND FOR BECAUSE SHE ISN’T.”

August 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I am a black woman and I have watched this video twice. I do feel a little uneasy about the way black bodies are used in the the video. In my opinion it feels like when Taylor gets to the boy and twerk style dances there is a more of a mockery. That ia simply my opinion but I am a fan of Taylor’s and was disappointed. I also felt the more serious racial slight came in the end when the real Taylor appears. In that dance sequence. It is overwhelmingly white and the previous black dance styles are not celebrated as some people have suggested the song calls for.

August 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

lord she should just have Whites then? Oh you would bitch about that then. Blacks need to get their heads out of their asses, there were whites tweaking too! But Black rappers get away with calling people niggers and girls hoes, and beating the shit out of women?

August 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm

The best part is Taylor… had you had all white girls twerking, that would of been….drum role… RACIST!!! You know bc then they would say “what black girls aren’t good enough to be in your white video, you know we invented that”….and if your celebration of all types of dance and music had in fact not EVER touched upon hip hop or twerking, then you would have been,,, drum role please…RACIST!!! Bc then your white self would have been accused of “not finding black music and the most current black dance craze valid” lol. …. The fact this pisses so many people off is funny… whats not funny is this has more attention than the real racism like what happened to Trayvon…you hear that Trayvon, this is just as bad as what happened to you according to white people and some very ignorant black people….good call everyone

August 19, 2014 at 2:21 pm

It doesnt look like all the “twerkers” are black. And the rest if the dancers arent all white. Anyone offended by this hasnt actually watched it.

August 22, 2014 at 6:33 am

I thought that as well, that some of the twerkers and rappers looked white. I also noticed that some of the cheerleaders and gymnasts were African Aerican. Since they are traditionally white dance styles, are the blacks culturally misappropriating white culture
I’m not American so I dont get why African Americans get antsy every time a white person sings or dances in a style that originates from African American culture. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and common likes in dancing and music are a great way to break down social and culturall barriers

Sharon J Stokley
August 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

i read she didnt apologize yet. i watched this, and she has nothing to apologize for. this video was suppose to be about shaking it off (everyone), which it sounds like alot of people need to do, and doing something fun like dancing. and how is this twerking (which i find offensive) racist, that a white person would do it?!? is this only a black girls dance?!? we all have a right to dance anyway we feel like. its racist if people try and tell someone how they should be, what they should do, how they should talk, walk and dance. this is america, and people who go around being the police of everyones actions are indeed showing theyre racism………

August 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm

First of all, reverse racism doesn’t exist. And second of all, it’s racist for a white girl to twerk because it’s strictly a part of black culture. When white people imitate it, it’s to make fun of it. When a white artist hired black girls to shake their ass in a video, but they themselves just stand there and don’t twerk with them.. it’s superiority and it’s harmful for all the black girls watching. Their culture isn’t a joke. Twerking isn’t a joke.

August 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

So…..every white person who twerks is inherently racist? Damn. Seems like you’re trying to make a mountain out of an ant hill.

August 19, 2014 at 2:21 pm

That makes no sense, as a black woman I feel you EMILY are an idiot. FIRST, you uneducated twit, racism is literally define as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race” THAT WOULD BE YOU… “especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race”… you are right, reverse racism doesn’t exist just regular racism and in your case black on white racism…which you proved with the obnoxious statement of white girls can’t twerk because if they do its racist, and if they don’t twerk its racist… UM WHAT?…. meantime if a black girl does gymnastics or is a ballerina she is racist then right??? because it they originate in white culture… so according to you white girls should be ballerinas and black girls should be twerkers but thats not racist even thought that is EXACTLY what the video reflects?!?!?! LMAO… typical nonsense

August 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

“it’s racist for a white girl to twerk because it’s strictly a part of black culture” That is the most racist thing I’ve ever heard in my life. To claim that people of another race are forbidden from doing something due to the color of their skin is the very definition of racism.

August 20, 2014 at 6:35 am

I’m South African Emily. Do you know that twerking imitates some of the traditional African cultural dances? Do you know that traditionally those dances are not suppose to be sexualised in any way? Which is what twerking is? So by your account African American people appropriated African culture??? You Emily are the most racist and ignorant person on here.

star savage
August 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

ok so if i follow your reasoning, it’s racist for black people to dance ballet, because it was invented by white people. that’s the equivalent of saying it’s racist for white people to twerk, or asian people to salsa, or black people to sing opera, or white people to do african dance, or hispanic people to sing country music, etc.etc.etc. very ignorant “reasoning” imho.

August 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

So going by many of the comments here, I’m guessing there should be no dancing outside of your own culture? My daughter is part Asian, so that means I should not let her go to hip-hop dance classes because we would be making fun of it? I have never heard such a load of egotistical bs. We have raised our daughter that all people are equal and there is something to be learned from every culture and race. I can honestly say I wont be letting her hear this.’oh honey, you can’t learn tap dancing because your not Irish and it would be rude and disrespectful, you would only be making fun of it’.
Really folks? This is prejudice, plain and simple. You are making assumptions about other people, I don’t care what color you are, or they are.there are always going to be prejudiced people out there. Only you candecide how you are going to handle it. With grace, or with bitterness. Now as far as this video goes, it is happy, fun, and covers a joyful variety of music and dance. If people can sit and pick something apart this badly (and this applies to all colors and cultures) you need to find more positive goals and things to do with your time. It’s called personal growth.

August 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Emily is apparently the voice of the entire white race, here. According to her, imitating something that is strictly in the black culture is racist. Well goddamn, I guess Elvis, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney….are all racist for finding inspiration and imitating greats such as Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters.

Since this is a fucking Internet forum and I can say whatever I want…..I’m going to go out on a limb and say emily has a personal dislike for taylor swift and is simply being a hater. Because that’s what leaches and haters do, they tear down other people because they can’t build anything of their own.

August 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Her video is in no way racist. It is a play on different dance types. The part where they are “krumping” or “twerking” does not contain all black women. I see two light skinned women, and one is at least Caucasian. Earl Sweatshirt is obviously the racist one as all he see is race during the video and not the particular dance styles being represented.

August 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

It’s racist. Just cause she has other girls of different colors doesn’t help at all as she’s making fun of black culture.

August 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Stop saying dancing like a prostitute is part of black culture…we have real history that does not involve us being sex objects… tell you what you simple heifer, go have a 5 year old twerk in front of your grandmother or better yet go twerk at your church… and when your g-ma or pastor slaps the black off you just tell them its ok bc its black culture…EXACTLY

August 21, 2014 at 5:51 am

emily you’re an idiot.

August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Yeah, Im black…. and here’s what the problem is… Its not Taylor Swift making fun of black people and the “black stereotype” Its what you see in today’s african american video… THE VERY SAME THING. If black people dont like, then stop supporting the rappers who put that trash out there. She’s not the one degrading black women… We (meaning us black people) are doing a damn good job of that ourselves. Black people put the trash out there and then get mad because someone makes fun of it?!? BS…. If you dont like it, change it… Dont buy Lil Waynes music, or 2Chainz or Rick Ross… etc…. But what do I know, Im just a black guy who’s tired of seeing black people complain about race this and race that.

August 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Way to generalize all black culture/people In America.

August 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

You are exactly right Manny, we need to stop degrading our own people… listen to more Lupe and less Kanye who actually encourages kids to not read…this is the man white people like Rachel support because they like when our leaders reflect ignorance… she tells people “its ok to live in the hood and ghetto, its your culture”… WHAT? No its not ok to live ins squalor and hell no its NOT black culture and the fact you try to make it my culture is racist and degrading…I mean please Rachel if its just a generalization and not the truth then enlighten me with the hundreds of rappers, wait tell you what just find me 50 rappers, wait just find me 20 famous rappers…. who do not have black women dressed in skeezy outfits, twerking or otherwise suggestive movements, and aren’t perpetuating violence…I’ll wait

August 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Thank you Manny. I too am black and could not agree with you more. Black culture is very rich and jazz is one of the only original forms of music that America has. You know where I learned about the history of black music? My what ethnomusicologist husband. Sad. If you asked a black youth today about their musical heritage and the ENORMOUS contribution to this county they would only know the name of pop stars.

August 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

shes pulling a miley, but being self aware and mocking unlike miley. i like it, even if i dont like the song. maybe it’ll grow on me. but she’s one smart cookie.

August 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm

If you think this video is racist… you are in fact a racist.

August 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I don’t really like this chick but in her defense… it seems to me she is making fun of Miley Cyrus and her appropriation of black culture and Lady Gaga and her eccentricity..? Do people call Miley racist? IDK…but I know there was a big discussion about her appropriating black culture some time ago. I see this video as a goofy satirical don’t take me so serious video. how I feel about her music has no bearing on my opinion of the video (not a huge fan of her music though). that’s just my ignorant opinion

August 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Exactly.. it’s goofy, which twerking isn’t. In the black culture, twerking is a dance move that isn’t supposed to be funny and when white artists come out here and make fun of it.. that’s harmful.

August 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Twerking is a serious form of dance?!?!? Emily what planet to you live on?!?! You find me one place that is selling tickets to twerking like they do Traditional African Dance… the only people who advertise it are TWERK CONTEST at local sleazy clubs where a bunch of dumb women shake their butts for free and the club promos love it bc it brings in the boys who know its cheap to get in bc strip clubs cost money… its no different than if a bunch of white girls stated claiming riding the mechanical bull in a country clup in a wet t-shirt is a dance… its stupid and you sound stupid saying it

August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

“And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off. Shake it off.”

The exact sentiment from the song…

August 19, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I am offended by the way the geeky pasty skinned white kids are portrayed in this video. I think the homage to different dancing styles from classical ballet to the most current dance move “twerking” is a wonderful marketing move and controversy gets people interested. Bravo skinny white girl and uninformed black man on creating publicity for both of you. Feed the machine and continue to do what you are doing.

August 19, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Did anyone think that there are auditions to go thru to be a dancer in her video and the best people for each genre got that part regardless of color. If a black girl and white girl audition for it and the white girl girl is a better twerker then she gets it or if rhw black girl twerks better then she gets it. Its not racist its talent.

August 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

Taylor Swift’s new video is not racist at all. People claiming everything anyone does says or don’t do is racist is getting way out if hand. She could have made a video exactly opposite of what she made and it would get called racist too. Everyone that is flipping out about this stuff is making it racist. If it weren’t for you people throwing the race card in there it would never have been brought up or anything. You all are making everything racist yourselves cuzz guaranteed Taylor Swift didn’t intend for that and is not racist but now labeled that way cuz u all labeled it. The video is not racist at all. Wish u all would realize u are making everything racist. Its time to stop now.

August 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

There were white girls twerking too? And black people in the other dance forms (ballerina, cheerleader, etc.) Furthermore, in the video she’s celebrating the different types of dance and showing how good the professional dancers are and how she can’t live up to that (she’s making fun of herself really) Honestly I loved the video when I first saw it b/c there’s loads ethnic diversity without being racist whereas in most music videos it’s either 100% white people or non-white people being demonized

Marie Antoine
August 19, 2014 at 11:01 am

I dont see how this is racist. It was celebrating all types of dance. I can see how its racist if all the girls who twerked were black but they werent. I mean Im so confused If anything this is showing how anyone of any color can dance. All the dance groups I saw in this vid were of mixed races. And just cause they ballerinas didnt have a persay black person in there doesnt it didnt have a person of color, cause it did. Like I am very confused, did you even watch the video or are you just going along with what everyone say. And as I black female who love to dance I loved

August 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

I’m just really SOOOO confused. Have any of the people calling her racist actually SEEN this video or??? I mean that Earl Sweatshirt guy starts off saying he didn’t watch it and doesn’t need to and ppl are still giving credit to his claims??? I’m Nigerian and have watched the video COUNTLESS times and I still don’t see the problem. Does nobody else see the black ppl doing other dances in other scenes too?? Breaking scenes, cheerleading scenes, ribbon scenes….where exactly is the racist part??

August 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

I’m sure Kanye has something to say…

August 19, 2014 at 5:38 am

She’s literally celebrating multiple dance forms. Way more than her peers who only see twerking as a means to fetishize black bodies. She’s celebrating ballet, breaking, hip hop, modern dance, twerking and a bunch of other dance styles which is a good thing. And I wish to god people would quit conflating twerking with black people. That essentialisation is what gets people into trouble in the first place.

Wael Ghandour
August 19, 2014 at 4:53 am

You sick pieces of shit, There are white girls twerking too :) People are so stupid and blinded by their hate..

August 19, 2014 at 2:38 am

This fucking video isnt the slightest bit racist and im black. omg nooo there were no black people in the ballet portion of the video but they were in basically every other type of dance. People need to get lives bruh. Its not even that serious. One person says some stupid shit and then others run with it. sigh america. Home of the stupid ass people who cant think for themselves

August 19, 2014 at 1:10 am

lmao are people that blind or are they just so used to hating Taylor that they can’t see the redhead with the pale ass legs twerking in front of the black legs at the front? smh.

August 19, 2014 at 1:03 am

In the words of Katy Perry, “no.”

August 19, 2014 at 1:04 am

(to the song and video). As for the racism, yes, THIS is cultural appropriation.

August 19, 2014 at 4:15 am

Are you actually black or are you just some Tumblr white girl trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about? @Consequences

This is NOT “cultural appropriation” and it’s NOT racist. Twerking is a dance move, same as moonwalking, same as any other dance move ever invented. You can’t pattent a dance move or music genre and say “this is only for black people” or “white people” or whatever. “Cultural appropriation” would be if she puts on a feathercap and paints her skin red and starts dancing around a fire. Or if she pulls a blackface and stuffs the bum of her dress and talks in the stereotypical way we were portrayed when this shit was still OK.

So please, please learn what you’re talking about because you sound ignorant and pretentious and make all of us look ridiculous.

August 19, 2014 at 4:16 am

Shit, meant to say “Racism would be “if she pulls a blackface and stuffs the bum of her dress and talks in the stereotypical way we were portrayed when this shit was still OK.”, not cultural appropriation. Wish you could edit comments on here. Anyway.

August 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Beautifully written sister… I grow tired if the white liberal base using my color to further their own agendas…pft

August 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm

This is so lame… I was hoping she had said a certain word or something entertaining, instead I get jack :/

August 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Shut up…

Aids Bunny (@AidsBunny)
August 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Real racism is what is going on in Ferguson, MO right now. That is real racism. Taylor Swift having black girls twerk isn’t.

Mali Jay
August 19, 2014 at 12:39 am

both are racist, the objectification of black women causes the dehumanisation that leads to racist cops murdering kids. its all connected. this video was racist trash, it seriously shocked me. if you watch the black womens faces are NEVER seen EVEN WHEN ONE IS FACING THE CAMERA

Aids Bunny (@AidsBunny)
August 19, 2014 at 12:49 am

Stay away from mountains. There’s more slippery slopes there than even you could handle.

August 19, 2014 at 1:51 am

what about the white girls that were tweaking right along side the black girls? or taylor trying to twerk? How is it that Miley twerks and no one cares but because taylor fails at it and laughs at herself trying she is called racist?

August 19, 2014 at 4:19 am

@Mali Jay WAKE UP! All women are objectified, can’t you see that?! Black, white, Asian, ALL pop-culture is all about pretty women who shake their ass and put out as much as possible to sell their shit. As for trying to link this with Richmond it just shows that you’re grasping at straws. You’re more of a racist than this video.

August 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Stop. You are wrong. Or a racist.

August 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I to find this topic to be actually something which I think I’d never understand. It seems too complex and very vast for me. I am having a look ahead for your next publish, I’ll try to get the cling of it!

John Nesiba
August 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Our society is fucked. When did we all turn into whiny bitches. Maybe she was commending black people on their ability to twerk. Everyone takes things as a dis. America there are way bigger fish to fry than Taylor Swift and her music videos. If you don’t like it, don’t watch and find something to support in a positive manner. jesus.

August 18, 2014 at 9:18 pm

A white person, can’t have a black person in a video, without being called a racist. She can’t win, she could have used all whites in the video, and still been called a racist. I didn’t care for the twerking because of the reaction after Miley did it. I knew people would overreact, racism never entered my mind. A racist wouldn’t want anything to do with the race they hate. People use racism for everything, instead of it’s real meaning.

Racism is hate, and there was no hate in Taylor’s video.

August 19, 2014 at 4:20 am

COMMON SENSE, finally.

August 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

This is just the 1980′s revisited

Justin Henderson
August 18, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Not sure that you can call a woman being told what to do a racist, but whoever is putting her in these crazy videos is a little fucked in the head.

August 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm

oh. my. lord. people seriously need to chill out. how ridiculous.

August 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Yeah, so why can’t Taylor use her energy to but a positive light on all WoC and quit being racist?

August 21, 2014 at 6:10 am

Same reason you apparently can’t help being narrow minded and slightly stupid

August 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Emily, I have never heard a racist word come out of Taylor’s mouth. If you are interpreting everything as an insult that comes out of the mouth of a non-black person, especially something as multicultural and positive as the video, I’m going to suggest you go get counciling. Seriously. Anyone going around with that big a chip on their shoulder is in for a long, rough life if they don’t start changing their mindset.


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