After disappearing from Twitter for almost two years, actress Awkwafina – born Nora Lum – has returned to address the controversy surrounding her use of African American Vernacular English and the use of “blaccent”, a voice stereotype that is used to imitate certain forms of Black American dialect.
In a lengthy tweet, Awkwafina explained that she understood how black people in America are exploited by policies and systems which see their culture being appropriated by non-black people for economic purposes. Nowhere in the tweets however does she acknowledge that she has been a participant in the same. No apology seemed to be forthcoming because she couldn’t acknowledge the problem existed in the first place. But just in case she had done it, it wasn’t to mock black people she said.
In an attempt to explain it away she said,
“I think as a group, Asian Americans are still trying to figure out what that journey means for them, what is correct and where they don’t belong, and though 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 lifting our communities. We do the first by failing, learning, acknowledging, hearing, and empathizing and I will continue tirelessly to do just that.”
The criticism of her using blaccent started way early before she found success in staring in hits such as Crazy Rich Asians, Oceans 8, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Shang Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings. As far as her days in Tawk With Awkwafina on Go90, she has always been criticized for the accent. The questions had been brought up multiple times recently during the press tour for Shang Chi. Once in an interview, she said
“Um, you know, I’m open to the conversation. I think it, you know, it’s really something that is a little bit multi-faceted and layered.”
Following the tweets, fans started noticing that she didn’t offer any apology for it and was quick to like replied tweets that seemed to absolve her of responsibility or any wrongdoing especially ones from non-black users. Before exiting, Awkwafina pulled the classic “twitter’s bad” move and announced that she was not going to be on the platform actively any longer but would be available on other social media sites. Her bio hinted at another two years hiatus before returning in 2024.