Awkwafina addresses cultural appropriation criticism, announces Twitter break


WASHINGTON: American actor Awkwafina returned to Twitter after a two-year absence and responded to longstanding criticism that she uses a fake “blaccent” in her comedy while announcing that she would be leaving the micro-blogging platform.

According to Fox News, Awkwafina, born Nora Lum, has long faced criticism for her use of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Some have spoken out on social media to accuse the ‘Shan-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ star of doing a voice that’s a caricature of a Black person in order to be funny.

In a lengthy note on Twitter, the actor addressed the situation.

She acknowledged the “sociopolitical context” of the issue and acknowledged the accusation of stealing from or parodying a community that “is disproportionately affected by institutionalised policies and law enforcement policies, all the while having historically and routinely seen their culture stolen, exploited and appropriated by the *dominant* culture for monetary gain without acknowledgement nor respect for where those roots come from.”

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Awkwafina further stated that Internet culture has led to AAVE being thought of as slang that’s available to everyone. But she noted that there is a “fine line between offence and pop culture.”

“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 wrote.

The actor explained that she was comfortable using that vernacular in her comedy and music because she grew up as an immigrant allowing pop culture like movies and TV shows as well as her peers in Queens, New York to shape her “American identity.”

She concluded her statement by noting that she plans to spend the rest of her career learning and doing better for the communities she wants to represent.

Awkwafina followed up her statement by tweeting that she would be quitting Twitter for the foreseeable future.

“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 apologize if I ever fell short, in anything I did. You’re in my heart always,” she wrote.

She also pledged in the bio of her Twitter account that she won’t be back on the platform personally until 2024.

In a follow-up tweet, she added, “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!” 

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