The NBA got it right on a few fronts this year. They held the All-Star game in the greatest city in the world, they leveraged the greatest artists for entertainment and they finally gave Jalaiah Harmon credit for her TikTok dance craze. Two days ago I didn’t know who 14 year-old Jalaiah Harmon was. Today she is a young Black girl getting the credit she deserves.
TikTok is the latest social media platform to take over the world. The app is like a mash up of Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Vine. It’s biggest users are pre-teens and teenagers. It is the platform Lil Nas X can credit his meteoric rise. Someone heard his song “Old Town Road”, made a challenge out of it and it took on a life of its own. Lil Nas X uploaded his song to TikTok in 2018 and by 2019 he was breaking all kinds of records, getting kicked off the country music charts and collaborating with Billy Ray Cyrus. By 2020 he was one of the biggest artists in the world winning Grammy’s. You can trace his success directly back to the app.
K Camp’s song “Lottery” is the latest song to make it’s rounds around the popular app. His song sparked the Renegade Challenge. A challenge created by Jalaiah Harmon a young Black girl but popularized by White teen TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio.
Jalaiah created the dance back in 2018 alongside her friend in 2018. But, as these things usually do they take on a life of their own. They get catapulted into pop culture and someone else not only gets credit but gets paid for it.
A New York Times Writer Torey Lorenz did some digging around the dance craze and discovered that Jalaiah was responsible. She interviewed her for the publication and the word started to spread. Black Twitter caught wind of this and it was a wrap.
K Camp took notice and filmed a video with Jalaiah and her friend doing the dance to his song and posted it to twitter with a message. on Valentines day. “Thank you Jalaiah and Skylar for helping make lottery the BIGGEST song in the world,” he tweeted.
Now, lets fast forward a bit. I go to cover the NBA All-Star celebrity game and I see a group of 3 young White girls being followed around the Wintrust Arena. Kids were going crazy for them. Evidently they are social media influencers known as the TikTok girls who were flown out to reap the rewards of their influence. They probably were not aware of the swell of support Jalaiah was getting to be recognized for her creation.
The NBA took notice and flew Jalaiah out on a days notice to receive her due in front of one of the biggest audiences in the world.
In a world where Black people have routinely been overlooked for their accomplishments, this one social media moment feels like a win. This moment makes Black History Month that much sweeter. Justice moving at the speed of social media is sweet.
Jalaiah deserves this and hopefully this grows into a monetized opportunity. In the meantime at the speed of social media she made her debut at All-Star 2020 then connected with the TikTok girls. This may not be what Dr. King was speaking of directly, but it kind of is.
Stream “I’m Dreaming (Don’t Wake Me)” by Precise below.