Awkwafina‘s addressing criticism over her “blaccent” use in films, saying she never intended to “mock” or “belittle” anyone for speaking in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).
The “Shang-Chi” star posted a lengthy statement Saturday on Twitter, saying she acknowledged the “historical context of the African American community in this country” and that “in life, the linguistic acculturation, immigrant acculturation, and the inevitable passage of globalized internet slang all play a factor in the fine line between offense and pop culture.”
For years now, the 33-year-old Golden Globe winner had been taken to task over her “blaccent” use, which is defined as “a manner of speaking used by nonblack individuals that is indicative of AAVE.” One of the most prominent examples came in 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians” when she played Goh Peik Lin.
Awkwafina says she’s listened to the criticism and working to understand AAVE’s context.
“But as a non-Black POC, I stand by the fact that I will always listen and work tirelessly to understand the history and context of AAVE, what is deemed appropriate or backwards toward the progress of ANY and EVERY marginalized group,” she said in her statement. “But 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.”
As for what influenced her when it came to adopting the use of AAVE, Awkwafina cited her upbringing.
“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,” she explained.
To Clarify: I am retiring from the ingrown toenail that is Twitter. Not retiring from anything else, even if I wanted to, and I didn’t drunkenly hit someone with a shoehorn and now escaping as a fugitive. Also am avail on all other socials that don’t tell you to kill yourself!
— nora (@awkwafina) February 5, 2022
In two subsequent tweets, the actress said she’s “retiring from the ingrown toenail that is Twitter. Not retiring from anything else, even if I wanted to, and I didn’t drunkenly hit someone with a shoehorn and now escaping as a fugitive.”
She added, “Also am avail on all other socials that don’t tell you to kill yourself!” Awkwafina, born Nora Lum, also said her Twitter account will remain active but will be run by her social team until her return in 2024.
It’s not the first time Awkwafina has addressed her use of “blaccent” in films. Back in September while promoting “Shang-Chi”, she briefly address the criticism in an interview with Reuters saying, “You know, I’m open to the conversation. It really is something that I think is a little bit multi-faceted and layered.”
— Reuters Showbiz (@ReutersShowbiz) September 10, 2021
“It’s just so exciting to see — and I’ve known [Awkwafina] for a long time — what she’s been able to do in her work and create so many different, incredible characters. This one is basically her story. So it’s different from ‘Shang-Chi’ or ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ or ‘The Farewell’. Even her music. It’s very much very true to life, very funny presentation of her as this iconic, struggling kid. I was excited to be a part of it,” Cho told ET, adding that she’s well aware of how long and arduous the journey has been to get to this place of notice for Asian American talent, particularly in the comedy space.
“We had to work so hard,” Cho continued, “to get noticed as Asian Americans in comedy, and queer Asian Americans in comedy in particular.”
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