Awkwkafina responded to longstanding criticism that she uses a fake “blaccent” in her comedy while announcing that she’s retiring from Twitter.
The “Shan-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star, who was 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 actress of doing a voice that’s a caricature of a Black person in order to be funny.
On Saturday, the star addressed the situation in a lengthy note on Twitter in which she acknowledged the ‘sociopolitical context” of the issue and acknowledged that she is being accused of stealing form or parodying a community that “is disproportionately affected by institutionalized 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 acknowledgment nor respect for where those roots come from.”
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She went on to note that Internet culture has led to AAVE being thought of as slang that’s available to everyone. However, she stated that there is a “fine line between offense 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 marginalized group,” Awkwafina wrote. “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.”
She went on to explain that she felt 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.
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“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 or communities,” she concluded. “We do this first by failing, learning, acknowledging, hearing and empathizing… And i will continue, tirelessly, to do just that.”
The actress followed up her statement by tweeting that she is quitting Twitter for the foreseeable future.
“Well, I’ll see you in a few years, Twitter – per my therapist,” she wrote. “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.”
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She added in a follow-up tweet: “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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She also pledged in the bio of her Twitter account that she won’t be back on the platform personally until 2024.