A New York Times report about Travis Kelce’s haircut becoming a viral trend has left several prominent Black media members unhappy with how Kelce is being portrayed.”The NYT thinks that Travis Kelce invented the fade 🤦🏾♀️ When you have zero cultural competency on your staff, this is how you end up with stories like this, and explaining swag surfin,’ which is at least 15 or years old,” wrote journalist Jemele Hill on X.
As Hill noted, The Times referred to “The Fade”, a staple of Black fashion since it first grew to popularity in the militarized culture of the 1940s and 50s, as “The Travis Kelce”. And while cultural markers do grow and adopt and maybe it’s unreasonable for a 14-year-old Chiefs fan to know it’s a fade and not the Kelce, the 172-year-old New York Times should absolutely know better.
However, as Hill mentioned, it’s not just Travis Kelce who is pushing this trend. Explainer articles about “Swag Surfin” have popped up after Swift was seen pulling the dance move at the AFC Championship Game. In this case, an article from The Sporting News called it “the Chiefs’ viral dance celebration”. Swag Surfin dates back to 2009 and the F.L.Y. song of the same name. But the co-opting of Black-created dance moves is not a new thing. The Wikipedia page for “The Griddy” features two images of white people doing the dance, despite the creator being Black and a Black NFL player have been the one to further popularize it.