Macy's Takes Heat Over 'Diverse Dance Group'

Social media posts criticize 'reductive description' of 100-year-old Black sorority
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2020 5:05 PM CST
Macy's Takes Heat Over 'Diverse Dance Group'
Participants dance in the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

There was a problem with a cheery Macy's tweet introducing an entry in its Thanksgiving Day Parade. "What's that sound, you ask? Why it's the diverse dance group, Zeta Phi Beta Steppers!" the Thursday post said. "Performing a special routine they put together to help us celebrate this unprecedented year." The post betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding, which did not escape social media's attention, USA Today reports. MSNBC host Joy Reid noticed. "Um... hey @Macys that’s not a 'dance group.' Zeta Phi Beta is a Black sorority founded at Howard U in 1920 and part of the Divine Nine," Reid tweeted. One post said "'diverse dance group' is a reductive description—y’all missing the bigger picture here." Another pointed out that Zeta Phi Beta is active in social causes, adding, "Stepping is a tradition that dates back to the 1900s when slaves used this form of dance as way to communicate."

Nine historically Black sororities and fraternities, including Zeta Phi Beta, make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council—the Divine Nine. As an Alpha Kappa Alpha, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is among its members. The Macy's tweet has been taken down, replaced with new wording. "Look who just STEPPED things up. We loved having @ZPHIBHQ—an international, historically Black Sorority—with us at the #MacysParade for their centennial," the new tweet says. Zeta Phi Beta put up its own tweet about the parade appearance. "Congratulations again to our Centennial Steppers who performed in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade this year! You all were #Finer and represented Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated well!" the post says. (More Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stories.)

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