‘Shang-Chi’ star quits Twitter after cultural appropriation criticism
Awkwafina, who took her career to new heights by playing Katy in Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, promised she will no longer have a presence on Twitter after years-long critiques of her use of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) reached a crescendo.
In a lengthy note tweeted on Saturday morning, the actress, comedian, and rapper addressed her complicated relationship with AAVE.
A follow-up tweet, several hours later, noted that will see Twitter “in a few years” on the advice of her therapist. She later attempted humor in a thread tweet attached to that, but used that to pointedly express, “Also am avail[able] on all other socials that don’t tell you to kill yourself!”
Her Twitter bio was later updated to say that her “amazing social team” would be monitoring her account until 2024 — when she might presumably return to manage her Twitter account once more.
AAVE is a dialect of English commonly spoken by Black people in the United States, and an offshoot from this is the “blaccent” — a voice which stereotypically imitates African-American speech. Awkwafina first appropriated this style of speaking in her rap career, and carried it over into her acting performances, most notably in Ocean’s 8. It attracted more criticism as her Marvel debut got closer and in a 2021 interview with Reuters she did say the concerns were something that she was open to speaking more about and she appreciated the complexity of the issue.
“Um, you know, I’m open to the conversation,” she said at the time while doing a promotional tour for Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. “I think, you know, it’s really something that is a little bit multi-faceted and layered.”
In the tweet, she spoke of how African-Americans are unfairly treated by law enforcement and stated that it was not her intent to belittle the issues at hand. She also noted how much of her overfamiliarity came from her youth as a first-generation racialized American and due to the exploitation of Black culture, the blaccent was something she adopted from its repeated prominence across many entertainment forms.
Despite her effort in explaining her AAVE usage, some sent replies to her tweet challenging her. Some questioned why it took her as long as it did to address the issue, while others felt she was insincere.
One went so far as to declare, “Call me a hater or whatever but I don’t want to see Awkwafina win … EVER.”
Tweets like that make clear why Awkwafina might have grown weary of the platform.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings is now available on Disney Plus, and the actress is set to appear in the upcoming animated film The Bad Guys out later this year.