Actor Awkwafina has returned to Twitter to announce that she will be quitting Twitter, after publicly being challenged about her use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE).
The Asian American woman, whose heritage draws from China on her father’s side and South Korea on her mother’s side, defended her use of her “blaccent,” pointing to her understanding of race and appropriation.
On a black canvas, she examined how Black people are disproportionately institutionalized and culturally appropriated at the same time.
In the first of her four-panel reflection on race in America, and what Black people go through, she shared about how frequently the group is exploited, stating “there is a sociopolitical context to everything, especially the historical context of the African American community in this country.”
Part of this exploitation, Awkwafina asserts, can be perceived as her use of AAVE.
But that assertion would be wrong. She claims that much of this is connected to the popularization and global consumption of hip-hop music and culture. She wrote, “Some may pass it off as a convoluted mixture of the ‘internet TikTok slang generation’ that liberally uses AAVE, to add that hip hop — a genre of music that is ubiquitous and beloved across the country — has now anchored itself as a mainstream genre in music history.”
“And in life,” she continues, “linguistically acculturation, immigrant acculturation and the inevitable passage of globalized internet slang all play a factor in the fine line between offense and pop culture.”
Regardless of her unpacking of the gumbo of culture that rap music presents to all people in 85 – 140 BPMs, people have been offended by her use of AAVE, especially Black people.
One person tweeted why she believes it is offensive and would never be accepted if she tried it, “Can you imagine a Black actress occasionally dipping in and out of a fake Chinese accent/ affectation? Then being cast in roles off the strength of that distorted performance and mimicry? No you cannot.”
Some even believed that she wears Blackness like a costume.
“All I can say is she was not being authentic then so all the controversy that has occurred with her in more recent years is no surprise to me,” another tweeted. “She consciously wore black culture as a character, not because of a subconscious identity crisis.”
“Nora still being @akwafina when it was a BS pseudo-“ghetto” rap name in the first place shows she really doesn’t actually give damns like that.”
Some people believe she should have just stayed quiet. “Akwafina or however you spell her stage name was better of remaining silent she was already skating on by w/o explaining herself, why make a half-hearted statement that is still defensive now of all times?”
Awkwafina says that she doesn’t mean to offend people.
“I must emphasize: To mock, belittle, or to be unkind in any way possible at the expense of others is: Simply. Not. My. Nature. It never has, and it never was.”
The comedian, whose real name is Nora Lum, contends that she isn’t performing and as a kid from Queens, New York, the home of Nas, the Mets and the location for “Coming to America” she is informed by Black culture, that by the fact that it is popular, really belongs to everyone.
She writes, “My immigrant background allowed me to carve an American identity off the movies and tv shows I watched, the children I went to public school with, and my undying love and respect for hip hop.”
“I think as a group, Asian Americans are still trying to figure out what that journey means for them — what is correct and where they don’t belong,” she continues.
Much of the Golden Globe winner’s criticism comes from her NSFW parody rap song “My Vag” and her roles in the blockbuster films “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s Eight.” In those projects, she uses Black lingo and posturing in a way that often has been considered minstrel-ish.
“And though I’m still learning and doing that personal work, I know for sure that I want to spend the rest of my career doing nothing but uplifting our communities. We do this first by failing, learning, acknowledging, hearing, and empathizing… And I will continue, tirelessly, to do just that.”
After this post, she went on to “clarify” that she will be retiring from what she calls the “ingrown toenail that is Twitter,” as per her therapist. The artist said that her Twitter is all that she is taking a hiatus from and that she will return to the platform in a few years.
While Awkwafina will be exiting the social media platform, she is by no means slowing down. According to IMDB, she is currently filming a movie titled “Renfield” and she was even nominated for an 2022 NAACP Image award, which spurred backlash for the organization.
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