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In recent years, the actor and comedian has faced criticism for culturally appropriating her voice, especially in her early online rap career, and using African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).
Specifically, “blaccent” is when a non-Black person imitates Black English, and is a combination of the words “Black” and “accent”.
Awkwafina – an Asian-American star, whose real name is Nora Lum – shared a statement before deleting her Twitter account. She wrote: ‘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 marginalised group.
“But I must emphasise: 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.”
Awkwafina then attempted to explain the reasoning for her use of “blaccent” and AAVE.
“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 said.
“I think, as a group, Asian Americans are still trying to figure out what that journey means for them.”
After sharing the statement, she told her followers: ‘Well, I’ll see you in a few years, Twitter – per my therapist. To my fans, thank you for continuing to love and support someone who wishes they could be a better person for you. I apologise if I ever fell short, in anything I did. You’re in my heart always.’‘
Later, Awkwafina clarified her comment, adding: “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!”
Awkwafina previously commented on the controversy during an interview with Reuters Showbiz, but appeared hesitant to explore the subject.
“Um, you know, I’m open to the conversation,” she said. “I think it, you know, it’s really something that is a little bit multi-faceted and layered.”
In the wake of her statement, posted on Saturday (5 February), it was branded a “non-apology” by a contingent of her followers.
“Looking for the apology in your statement sis? I can’t seem to find it,” @intechnicolor wrote, with many more noting the absence of the word “sorry” from her post.
Twitter user @shaTIRED added: “Black people are not your experiment. we are not pairs of shoes to be tried on in a quest to figuring out identity. our culture is not an antithesis to american whiteness and certainly not a page in your book of exploring what it means to not be white in america.”
Black people are not your experiment. we are not pairs of shoes to be tried on in a quest to figuring out identity. our culture is not an antithesis to american whiteness and certainly not a page in your book of exploring what it means to not be white in america. https://t.co/Bc4o0BfRrM
— 5hahem (@shaTIRED) February 5, 2022
Elsewhere in her statement, Awkwafina noted the African American community in America “is a group that is disproportionately affected by institutionalised policies and law enforcement polices – all while having historically and routinely seen their culture stolen, exploited, and appropriated by the *dominant* culture for monetary gain without any acknowledgement nor respect for where those roots come from, the pioneers of its beginnings, and the artists that perfected and mastered the craft”.
Her other credits include The Farewell and TV show Awkwafina is Nora from Queens.