While actress and comedian Awkwafina is on a press run for her upcoming Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the Asian star is receiving some negative press from Black Twitter.
A VICE article analyzing the origins of the star’s success and allegations of cultural appropriation resurfaced over the weekend, thanks to a Twitter user named @MonicasFlight.
“I refuse to do accents. I’m not OK with someone writing the Asian experience for an Asian character,” @MonicaFlight wrote, quoting the actress in the January 2020 editorial piece. “I make it very clear, I don’t ever go out for auditions where I feel like I’m making a minstrel out of our people- Awkwafina.”
@MonicaFlight then attached a video clip from a scene in the 2018 movie “Ocean’s 8”, in which the actress is heard using “blaccent,” a term Urban Dictionary defines as “a distinctive manner of speech, pitch or tone particular to African American urban inner city youth.”
Online critics were quick to call out the contradiction, including one person who noted the actress’ misuse of the word “minstrel,” stating that the term “is not even a word for all poc.” That person added, “It describes the experience of black people (and she is obviously not that). So not only is she putting on a blaccent she is trying to change the word minstrel to be hers.” However, writer and filmmaker Irene Jiang quickly pointed out that there were “yellowface minstrel shows” and that they were “pretty core to the early popular-culture portrayal of East Asians in America that continued through early (and current) Hollywood.”
Still, the backlash continued. “She only stopped doing the damn blaccent after people started to take her ‘seriously’ but outside of that, she stays acting like this, it’s embarrassing,” wrote a second.
A third person wrote, “Awkwafina is so strange for saying this. In one instance you don’t want Asian ppl do be stereotyped in film which is great but then you go on make a mockery of what you depict a blaccent despite having a normal speaking voice? It just doesn’t add up,” wrote a fourth.
And when fans tried to defend the actress stating that perhaps her environment influenced how she spoke, Twitter user @HoodSocialism wrote, “Awkwafina grew up in Forest Hills & there’s not a lot of Black people in that area. So how is that forced Blaccent a product of her environment when the people in her environment don’t even talk that way??”
The actress has yet to address the past interview or allegations of cultural appropriation.