People were saying that I shouldn't be Irish dancing because I'm black and I don't look like most Irish dancers, but I saw it for the first time at a recital and it was just the coolest thing ever to me.
When you think of Irish dancing, this probably isn't what comes to mind. This is 21-year-old Morgan Bullock, an Irish dancer from Richmond, Virginia, who recently went viral for her dancing on TikTok.
Morgan was just a little girl when she saw Irish dancing for the very first time.
Morgan: I remember how energetic it was, and the bright dress, and it just, it just was something like I'd never seen before. It became a huge part of my life.
She started going to classes a few times a week and attended dance competitions.
And Morgan, when you went into those Irish dancing classes, were you the only African-American girl in the class?
Morgan: Yeah, I was always the only one in my class.
Did that ever have any effect on you, or how did that make you feel?
Morgan: I mean, obviously, it's hard to miss someone who's actually their face matches their legs at the competitions, because, you know, the, there's like the tanner, you, like ...
There's a lot of tanner.
Morgan: Yeah, a lot of tanner, but it's hard to miss someone who's African American. I don't think I ever considered it an issue. It was definitely something that I took note of, but I had grown up in a predominantly white area, so it wasn't something that I was uncomfortable about.
After going viral with her Irish dancing, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, but there were a few who thought that what she was doing was inappropriate. The negative comments that people were leaving under the video, what were people saying?
Morgan: Just early on, like, shortly after posting it, some people were saying that what I was doing was cultural appropriation. Just because I don't look like what you would typically picture an Irish dancer to look like, but, I mean …
So were they saying because you weren't Irish and because you were not white that you shouldn't be performing Irish dancing?
Morgan: Yeah, basically that's what they were saying.
You were misappropriating the Irish dancing culture.
Morgan: I mean, my understanding of the term is that it means when you're taking something from another culture, claiming it as your own without recognising where it comes from. And that's couldn't be further from what I'm doing, like. It's important for people to recognise that there's a difference between appropriation and appreciation. Um, I think people use the term 'appropriation' with not, without knowing what it really means.
Her parents, Yolanda and Ray, have always been so supportive of her and are proud of how she's handling her online fame.
Ray: It's unbelievable, it's hard to, even, you know, for family to imagine that it's happening.
Yolanda: I'm proud how she's handling everything. She's 20, so she's a woman, so she's handling these things on her own, pretty much.
After the video went viral, Morgan was invited onto a very popular Irish radio show, where she was surprised by Padraic Moyles, the lead dancer of Riverdance.
Padraic Moyles: If you're up for it, we'd love you to join us in Vienna, Virginia, to perform in Riverdance.
Morgan: Oh my God, I would love to do that. My heart just dropped.
Padraic Moyles: I think you're going to do an amazing job.
Morgan: It was unreal. Riverdance is like the end goal for me with dancing, so the opportunity to perform with Riverdance is amazing.
Padraic Moyles: Thank you for having the guts in many ways to put yourself out there, and you are unique in terms of what you showed on that video.
Morgan: It's been postponed, so I'm not sure about the dates for the US tour, but, I mean, I'll be there whenever it is.