TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2019. In 2020, the app has introduced a number of popular dances. One specific dance that has garnered the most attention is called The Renegade. According to a report from Insider, the Renegade was created by Jalaiah Harmon and until very recently, she had not been identified as the original creator.

Jalaiah Harmon's Renegade dance has been an internet sensation on TikTok for some time. However, one of the hurdles of social platforms like TikTok is how to recognize the creators of content that went viral.

As reported by Showbiz Cheatsheet, "The Renegade Dance" illustrated how Harmon fell victim to appropriation.

Perhaps you can go as far as to claim it was cultural appropriation since other well-known influencers became famous by doing this famous dance.

The origins behind Jalaiah Harmon's Renegade dance

Harmon has a lot of dancing experience to date. She studies at Sky Dance Academy and mentors other kids with her creative and innovative dance moves.

The popular dance was filmed and posted on social media networks last fall by Harmon and a friend. The post below shows the original dance moves. If you happened to use TikTok, some of the moves were tweaked by other famous TikTokers and adopted as their own.

Renegade is a runaway success. The Insider report went on to confirm that Renegade gets 29.7 million users attempting the fast-paced choreography.

New York Times confirms the lack of transparency and improper attribution to original creators

When you dig below the surface of TikTok, you find instances of foul play. For instance, in the New York Times report titled "The Original Renegade," they confirmed that TikTok's popular dances like Renegade, Holy Moly Donut Shop, Mmmxneil, and Cookie Shop have come from black creators on less popular apps.

One of those apps known as Dubsmash has had its popular choreographies appropriated or copied by TikTok.

Users on Dubsmash consider themselves Dubsmashers. It is a short-form social video app. You post your video and then you cross-post to Instagram. Coincidentally, the same functionality exists on TikTok and users once they post a video they can automatically upload them on Instagram.

What is interesting is before Harmon gained media attention, someone else had already reached major visibility. That famous dancer who popularized The Renegade was Charli D'Amelio. D'amelio happens has 35.5 million followers on TikTok. The Times said in its analysis she was deemed the "C.E.O" of Renegade since she exploited it.

Thanks to her exposure she landed a Superbowl commercial and dancing with Jennifer Lopez. In addition, she recently appeared in The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

A lot of opportunities for Harmon got missed out, yet the tide seems to have turned for the better. Harmon got to perform at the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago this year.

Harmon posts Renegade video with Addison Easterling and D'Amelio

Harmon's video included below seems to have resolved the issue. This case study had lots of twists and turns, but what happened behind this arrangement stayed behind closed doors.


Will this be the last time we see the cultural appropriation of dancing? Probably not since the virality of dance videos in the era of social media embeds itself as a profitable advertising machine.

The lucrative money generated disregards the intellectual or cultural property of others at times.

This story comes to show how original creators, particularly people of color, come to face challenges to claim something they invented. History seems to repeat itself and technology does not level the playing field.

The technology is readily available for everyone, but filters need to be created to recognize who originally created the content. In this case, TikTok will hopefully recognize who created The Renegade.

Users like Harmon will have to speak out to denounce the injustice. Social platforms need to make enhancements to verify the authenticity of posts created. Rather than prioritizing profits through influencers who gain at the expense of others, invest in making the content much more transparent to who it belongs to.