2021- 2022 Counterpoints Lecture

Dr. Kyra Gaunt 

(University at Albany, State University of New York)

Tuesday, February 22, 5:00 pm

This is a virtual event. To register to receive the Zoom link, click here.


Headshot of Dr. Kyra GauntWhile TikTok, with one billion users across 154 countries, became the most downloaded app during the global COVID-19 pandemic, YouTube held steady as the number one destination for music search and discovery. Both platforms were fined millions by the FTC in 2019 for accusations of violating the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. When users search for hits that girls' hips make famous from YouTube to TikTok, the sheer volume of ubiquitous music listening masks online child sexploitation orchestrated by music tech. 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon's choreography drove attention to K-CAMP's hit, "Loyalty (Renegade)," but Black girls get no love and little profit for their taste-making on the musical Internet.   

This keynote is based on writing from Gaunt's forthcoming book, PLAYED: How Music Orchestrates Violence Against Black Girls Online. Using case studies from YouTube, the adverse consequences of tween twerking in bedroom musical play are exposed.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Center for African and African American Studies; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Department of Theatre and Dance.

About the Speaker:
For over 20 years, Dr.
 Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. has been an innovative leader in the field of ethnomusicology as a prize-winning author, professor, and singer-songwriter. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is currently on faculty at the University at Albany, SUNY after being on faculty at Baruch and Hunter College in CUNY, New York University, University of Virginia, and Tufts University.

Her first book, The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop (NYU Press), funded by NEH and the Ford Foundation, won the distinguished 2007 Alan Merriam Book Prize from The Society of Ethnomusicology. The Games Black Girls Play and her subsequent publications contributed to the emergence of Black girlhood studies, hip-hop music studies, and hip-hop feminism. Outside academia, Gaunt is the principal qualitative researcher for the Black Internet Culture and Trends Project and she serves as a federally-certified expert witness offering testimony involving Facebook in state and federal court. 


As a public intellectual, Gaunt is an advocate for gender justice in Black music studies, particularly relative to Black girls. She voices the unspoken through song, scholarship, and social media, Her 2020 article "The Magic of Black Girls Play," published during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Parenting Section of The New York Times was selected as Editors' Pick, an important achievement for the field of ethnomusicology, given the newspaper's worldwide reach.


Her 2018 episode of TED's Design series Small Thing, Big Idea: How the Jump Rope Got Its Rhythm with over 7M+ views has been published in over 28 languages on TED.com. The video's reach exceeds notable TED talks by Bryan Stevenson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Gaunt also sees herself as a knowledge activist through her work as a Wikipediian. She actively edits and teaches Wikipedia (WikiEdu.org) to counter systemic bias and close the gender gap in the free knowledge spaces of the internet from Wikipedia to Genius.com.  


Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.