Houston native, Lizzo can now add “TED Talk speaker” to her long list of impressive accomplishments.
The three-time Grammy Award winner and body-positive icon took to the stage at TEDMonterey’s “The Case for Optimism” conference in Monterey, California, where she spoke about the origins of twerking. Although Lizzo’s talk isn’t fully available to watch online yet (le sigh), fans were treated to a sneak peek last Wednesday, courtesy of the TED Talks Instagram page.
“My ass has been the topic of conversation, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave my ass a standing ovation,” said Lizzo at the beginning of Wednesday’s TED Talks clip. “Yes, my booty. My least favorite part of my body. How did this happen? Twerking. Through the movement of twerking, I discovered my ass is my greatest asset. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TED Twerk.”
Based on an official breakdown of Lizzo’s TED Talk, the singer, who was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, discusses how twerking is tied to Black culture, tracing its roots back to a traditional West African dance called Mapouka. “Black people carry the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones,” said Lizzo in the TED Talks clip. “We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it has become today.”
The 33-year-old singer continued in the video, “I want to add to the classical etymology of this dance because it matters. From TikTok trends to songs and humor, we see so much erasure of what Black people have created. I’m not trying to gatekeep, but I’m definitely trying to let you know who built the damn gate.”