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Awkwafina addresses ‘blaccent’ criticism, announces Twitter exit

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 2/6/2022 Muri Assuncao, New York Daily News
Awkwafina backstage at the 77th Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. © Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS Awkwafina backstage at the 77th Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.

NEW YORK — Awkwafina announced Saturday she’s quitting Twitter, following ongoing accusations of cultural appropriation.

The Golden Globe-winning actress and comedian took to social media to address her controversial use of African American Vernacular English — often referred to as a “blaccent” — in some of her performances.

In a lengthy, multi-image post, the 33-year-old star of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Nora from Queens” said she meant no disrespect but acknowledged that “there is a historical context to everything, especially the African American community in this country.”

That community, she continued, is “disproportionately affected by institutionalized policies,” but at the same has “historically and routinely seen their culture stolen, exploited and appropriated by the *dominant* culture for monetary gain without acknowledgment nor respect.”

That’s a problem that still exists today, she wrote, citing the “internet TikTok slang generation” and its use of vernacular abbreviated AAVE.

“And in life, 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,” she added.

The actress, whose real name is Nora Lum, was born to a Chinese-American father and a Korean mother. She was raised in Queens and attended LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.

“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 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.”

Awkwafina, who rose to prominence in 2012 as a rapper, continued, saying that her immigrant background allowed her “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.”

Her career took off in 2018 with roles in “Ocean’s 8″ and “Crazy Rich Asians.” That year she became the second Asian woman to host “Saturday Night Live,” after Lucy Liu in 2000. The next year brought her the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for “The Farewell.”

A few hours after her original Twitter post Saturday, Awkwafina shared another tweet saying that she was taking a break from the microblogging network.

“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, adding a red heart emoji.


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