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The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

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USC’s First Majorette Team Controversy

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Photo Courtesy of Twitter: @princesslang0

Should predominantly white institutions (PWIs) have a majorette team? 

This is a big question sparking much controversy among HBCUs around the country after Princess Lang, a junior at the University of Southern California (USC), created her own majorette team, The Cardinal Divas of Southern California, at the private university.

On Sept. 18, 2022, Princess Lang tweeted a video showcasing the team’s first performance at USC’s football game. 

“SOOOOO PROUD,” tweeted rapper and USC alum Saweetie, along with a string of heart eyes, red and yellow hearts and peace sign emoji. Soon after, a video circulated of Saweetie’s own days as a majorette dancer at San Diego State University before she transferred to USC.

The video clip of the team’s first football-game performance has been viewed more than 3 million times on Twitter, and while many have applauded the team’s efforts to carve out a space for the school’s Black student body, others have not taken too kindly to the creation. 

Traditional majorette dancing typically involves baton twirling and jazz techniques alongside the marching band. 

In 1971, Jackson State University (JSU)’s former majorette dancer, Shirley Middleton, petitioned for the dance team to “put their batons down.” With the help of choreographer Hollis Pippins and sponsor Narah Oaris, Middletown co-funded JSU’s new majorette team, Jackson State’s J-Settes. 

The Jackson State’s J-Settes founded the popular majorette style of “j-setting,” which is the style Lang was influenced by to create her team.

This style of dancing has influences from hip hop, jazz, and West African traditions and is now popularly seen at HBCUs across the country, therefore there are mixed opinions on whether this style of dance should or should not stay at HBCUs.

Sophomore biology student, Micheal Bethune, stated his opinion on the difference between having a majorette team at a PWI versus an HBCU.

“I believe Black people should be able to express their culture wherever they go, but I do think that style of dance is more of an HBCU thing,” Bethune said. “Having a majorette team at a PWI will never be the same as having a majorette team at an HBCU.” 

The Divas caught the attention of Jennifer Hudson, who invited them to perform on her talk show Sept. 27, 2022. The team was introduced by bucking and j-setting to the song, “Choppa Style” by Choppa.

Their appearance sparked more controversy online, as many questioned Jennifer Hudson’s intentions. 

“It was wrong for Jennifer Hudson’s team to bring them onto her show, because there are so many talented and phenomenal majorette teams at HBCUs,” Bethune said.

Sophomore business administration student, Kevin Rogers, also questioned The Cardinal Divas appearance on the show.

“I think this is one of the biggest problems right now,” said Rogers, “PWIs are receiving the attention and funding that many Black students at HBCUs deserve.” 

During the interview, Princess Lang told Jennifer Hudson, “I didn’t want to be in a place that did not really fit me, or fit how I danced, or how I wanted to dance.” 

Other members of The Cardinal Divas emphasized how their goal was to create a “Black space” in their environment. 

As a PWIs, USC has a Black student body population of less than six percent.

“Over time, I am afraid that the team will become white washed,” said freshman psychology student Lauren Johnson. “Who is to say that they will stay authentic to the craft and style of dancing that black people created?” 

Despite the controversy, USC is not the only, nor the first PWI with a majorette team, and as for the future, The Cardinal Divas are here to stay, Lang said confidently during the interview. 

“We just want to show everybody that we are here to stay, and we deserve as much camaraderie as any of these other dance teams at USC and across the country,” Lang said.

The Cardinal Divas appeared on “The Jennifer Hudson Show”
Photo Courtesy of Chris Millard/Warner Bros.
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