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Lizzo Traces Twerking’s Black History + How it Became a Spiritual Practice

In her first TED Talk, three-time Grammy-winner Lizzo traces the history of twerking to a West African dance called mapouka, traditionally performed by women to celebrate joy, marriage or as religious worship. When it was transported to America by Black women during the transatlantic slave trade, its ties to Black culture were erased and co-opted. But in Black communities around the US, big butts continued to stay in vogue. When icons like Beyonce twerked on stage yet still received praise, it gave Lizzo permission to love her own body, and to discover how twerking is “a deep, soulful, spiritual practice.” The singer says, “It’s contributing to the liberation of women and people around the world” and it will continue to do so. Find out how in Lizzo’s empowering TED Talk.

Image courtesy of TED

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