Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

‘Twerk-a-thon’ event accused of sexualising black girls

2015-05-09 17:19:24

Preston carnivalCONTROVERSY: Preston Caribbean Carnival. Campaigners want organisers to ban a planned twerk-a-thon event

A fundraising initiative by the organisers of the Preston Caribbean Carnival to set a world record for twerking has been slammed by local campaigners.

Carnival bosses encouraged participants in the twerk-a-thon to set a new world record for the most people twerking simultaneously in one place for a minimum of three and a half minutes at the same time.

Money raised by the event would have gone towards the staging of the carnival, which is organised by a large team of volunteers. But the move attracted criticism from some local campaign groups.

Now the twerk-a-thon, originally scheduled to take place on Saturday (May 2) in Preston’s Flag Market in the city centre after being given the go-ahead by the council has since been postponed until June.

CULTURE

Among those leading the efforts to get the event scrapped is Preston resident Diane Thomas. She wrote a letter to Preston city council complaining that it was offensive to both Caribbean culture and women.

She said: “As a resident of Preston and of Caribbean descent, I am always interested and supportive of black cultural events in the area. However, upon seeing an advert for this event I am both disgraced and ashamed to be part of a Preston black community who openly encourage the sexualisation of young women in a public arena.”

But the organisers of the event appeared to respond to the criticisms via their Facebook page by posting a video of an African dancing troupe with a status saying, “Do we bow to pressure and discontinue learning and displaying our heritage because western civilisation finds it inappropriate? Is this inappropriate? Maybe we need to re-learn the art of dance and expression.”

‘Twerking’ has gained notoriety in popular culture for its sexually suggestive movement. The dance move is characterised by thrusting hip movements while squatting.

Although its origins can be traced back to West Africa, its re-emergence in African American culture as a Deep South dance craze took the world by storm in 2013 and eventually transitioned into the mainstream when it became the signature dance move of former Disney child star Miley Cyrus.

The Voice contacted the chair of Preston Carnival, Elaine Webb, for a comment. However, she did not respond to the request by the time of going to press.

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