Lizzo Just Gave Fans a History Lesson In Twerking As Part of Her 'TED Twerk'

"Black people carry the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones," said Lizzo in this week's TED Talk.

Lizzo Twerking TED Talk
Photo: Getty Images

Lizzo can now add "TED Talk speaker" to her long list of impressive accomplishments.

This week, 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 on 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 Wednesday's TED Talks clip. "We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it has become today." (

The 33-year-old singer continued in Wednesday's 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."

Quite frankly, there's no better person than Lizzo to recap the history of twerking. The "Good as Hell" singer has shared her love for the dance time and time again on social media. Back in January, Lizzo posted an Instagram video of herself shaking her booty on a balcony while wearing a colorful bikini. "Twerking has had many names but will always be my ancestral birthright," she captioned the Instagram clip. Months later, she shared another twerking video on the 'gram while enjoying a champagne shower at a pool party.

If you're still scrolling through Lizzo's twerk of fame, there was that one time in 2019 while she played the flute on The Jonathan Ross Show while twerking. Not to mention the time she nearly broke the internet by twerking in a thong courtside at a Los Angeles Lakers Game.

Here's hoping that Lizzo continues to remind people to stop decontextualizing twerking and appreciate it for its long history of bringing women — especially Black women — together.

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