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“To mock, belittle, or be unkind in any way possible at the expense of others is: Simply. Not. My. Nature.”
Awkwafina addressed criticisms that she uses a “blaccent” and announced that she would be leaving Twitter.
Criticisms of cultural appropriation have surrounded Awkwafina, who first gained popularity with her viral rap videos back in 2012, for years now — with some pointing to her earlier roles in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8 as key examples. The backlash further increased after a viral interview of hers resurfaced last year, where she said, “I refuse to do accents. I’m not OK with someone writing the Asian experience for an Asian character.”
Last month, criticisms picked up once again as Awkwafina was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her voiceover work in Raya and the Last Dragon.
Awkwafina previously responded to a question about the controversy by saying, “I’m open to the conversation. I think it really is something that is a little bit…multi-faceted and layered.”
Now, in a series of statements posted to Twitter, Awkwafina wrote, “There is a sociopolitical context to everything, especially the historical context of the African American community in this country.”
“It is a group that is disproportionately affected by institutionalized policies and law enforcement policies — all while having historically and routinely seen their culture stolen, exploited, and appropriated by the *dominant* culture for monetary gain without any acknowledgement nor respect for where those roots come from, the pioneers of its beginnings, and the artists that perfected and mastered the craft,” she continued.
“It is a problem we still see today,” she added. “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.”
“My immigrant background allowed me 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. 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.”
“But, 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,” she concluded. “But I must emphasize: To mock, belittle, or be unkind in any way possible at the expense of others is: Simply. Not. My. Nature. It never has, and it never was.”
She then followed up the statement with a tweet announcing that she would be leaving Twitter:
Subsequently, Awkwafina’s name began to trend, with many noting that her statement didn’t include an actual apology or acknowledgement of her behavior:
We’ll keep you posted with any updates.