Awkwafina called out for "blaccent" after old interview goes viral
19 August 2021, 16:08
According to Urban Dictionary, a blaccent is a "distinctive manner of speech, pitch or tone particular to African American urban inner city youth".
The Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings actress has a long history of being accused of cultural appropriation. Awkwafina, who is of Chinese and Korean descent, started her career as a rapper and her 2012 song 'My Vag' went viral on YouTube. She then moved onto comedy, where she adopted a blaccent, which some attributed to her multicultural upbringing in Forest Hills, Queens.
Awkwafina's persona allowed her to pivot into more Hollywood roles, but since landing a role on Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, Awkwafina seems to have dropped the blaccent. Having built her career on having a blaccent, many have accused her of profiting from Black culture, especially because a lot of Black actors (and people in general) are forced to change their accents to acquire jobs.
Now an interview with VICE in 2017 is going viral, after Awkwafina said there are certain roles she would not accept. "I refuse to do accents. And I think like – so far, like a lot of the parts I've gone out for have been really real characters and being Asian is not part of their plotline," she explained. "I'm OK with having an Asian aspect if it's done in a genuine way. I'm not OK with someone writing the Asian experience for an Asian character.
"Like that's annoying and I make it very clear, I don't ever go out for auditions where I feel like I'm making a minstrel out of our people.
Awkwafina's comments received criticism, with many believing she was being incredibly hypocritical. One user tweeted: "Awkwafina won't do accents but will drop rap songs in a "blaccent" and won't apologize for using it for fame. got it. that's an interesting word choice there. 'minstrel'." And another added: "In one instance you don’t want Asian ppl do be stereotyped in film which is great but then you go on make a mockery of what you depict a blaccent despite having a normal speaking voice? It just doesn’t add up."
“I refuse to do accents. I’m not OK with someone writing the Asian experience for an Asian character. I make it very clear, I don’t ever go out for auditions where I feel like I’m making a minstrel out of our people.” - Awkwafina pic.twitter.com/o9OtfBXd5n— Xvengers (@MonicasFlight) August 14, 2021
Awkwafina before she dropped the blaccent pic.twitter.com/PgNhk0XImm— Gossip Girl Here (@LadyYunaIesca) August 16, 2021
awkwafina won't do accents but will drop rap songs in a "blaccent" and won't apologize for using it for fame. got it— Mia Tsai (@itsamia) August 16, 2021
that's an interesting word choice there. "minstrel" https://t.co/3EASUbgWvf
Say it with me, "Awkwafina speaking in blaccent is not code switching"— Frankie Huang 黄秋隐 (@ourobororoboruo) August 16, 2021
awkwafina is so strange for saying this. In one instance you don’t want Asian ppl do be stereotyped in film which is great but then you go on make a mockery of what you depict a blaccent despite having a normal speaking voice? It just doesn’t add up https://t.co/I5tAZh65OG— ♡ ♡ ♡ (@cuntproperty) August 15, 2021
Awkwafina grew up in Forest Hills & there's not a lot of Black people in that area. So how is that forced Blaccent a product of her environment when the people in her environment don't even talk that way?? pic.twitter.com/KbMjtLVcAN— Bella Goth (@HoodSocialism) August 16, 2021
I’m glad people are finally calling this out. Awkwafina has never had to answer for using a blaccent to blow up and then it disappeared somehow overnight once she made a lil money. And then to have the nerve to say what she said below? Fuck off https://t.co/Ip1GvIZblo— Stinkmeaner's Grandson (@g3kkou_) August 15, 2021
overall, i’m tired of people making excuses for awkwafina. do you not understand how offensive it is that there are east asian women who cope with being the “model minority” by being a minstrel character. “people expect me to be submissive and dainty so i have a blaccent now😌”— Loni (They/Them) (@jaowrites) August 16, 2021
As it stands, Awkwafina has never addressed the backlash about her blaccent. We will update you if she does.