About The Oscars, Quvenzhané Wallis and The Onion Debacle
This post took me a long time to write because I wasn’t even sure I was going to blog about this topic.
I’ve been all up in arms for the past 20 hours. Literally. Like fighting the air at random intervals and everything. Because people have been TRYING it. It started with the Academy Awards and it all went downhill from there.
This is why it’s probably taken me this long to string some words together into a post. I didn’t know what angle to come from about this heated topic because I have so many thoughts and feelings and there are so many issues here. If I had posted about this last night, it woulda just been a gif of someone kicking a table over. This whole thing had to settle in my spirit first. And I had to do all my tantrum-throwing first. If this post still reads like a spell-checked stream of consciousness, my bad.
When they announced the 2013 Academy Award nominees and a little brown girl named Quvenzhané Wallis was selected in the “Best Lead Actress” category for the movie Beasts of a Southern Wild, I (and a lotta others) got excited. She made history by being the youngest nominee up for that award, and even moreso, I was celebrating for the Black girl who rocked!
And then I went and found out how her name is pronounced because that’s A LOT of name. But it’s clearly one that will have staying power if she’s already an Academy Award nominee before she turns 10. It’s pronounced Kwuh-ven-jah-nay.
My main motivation for watching this year’s Oscars was to cheer her on and see if she’d win. Yes, it’s for the shallowest of reasons and I don’t care. GO BLACK GIRL, GO!
But on the road to these Oscars, I’ve been noticing the narrative about little Miss Wallis. Too many stories talked about her name and not much else. We get it. It is hard to say. It is hard to spell. Yes, I know the foreign name struggle is real. But this little girl has told us many times how to say it and we’re still all “GEEZ WHY IS IT SO HARD?!?”
Yesterday, Quvenzhané gets on the red carpet and a reporter asks her if she got her dress from a department store. Another tells her “I’m calling you Annie now” because she’s been cast in that role for a new movie and Little Miss Sunshine tells her “My name is not Annie. It’s Quvenzhané.” YESSS!!! TELL HER! I was side-eying folks for her already.
And then the Oscars happened.
First, I was bored to tears. BORED. TO. TEARS. My tear ducts were so bored that water came out my eyes to entertain them. It was 3.5 hours of snooze and musical numbers. Seth MacFarlane was a terrible host, which I already expected because most Oscars hosts suck. I think Family Guy is hilarious, but when I realized that Seth is actually Peter Griffin in real life, I was all “Oh. I like him better as a cartoon.” He made many jokes that made me squirm and it was like “I dare you to be offended by my blatant sexism because I’m being bold and in your face.” And that was whatever. I was more annoyed than anything.
But one of the jokes that stood out and made me deep sigh was the one he told bout Quvenzhané being almost old enough for George Clooney to date. And I get it. He was making fun of George more than her but still. Ew.
And the night of everyone being complete assholes to a nine year old continued, even after the over-long show wrapped. The Onion won the award for “Put your gahtdamb foot in your mouth, you belligerent asshole” when they called her a cunt.
The Onion. Called a nine year old. A cunt.
I was outdone. OUT.DONE. I was seeing red and I just wanted to cuss so hard, new words would be necessary. The devil is clearly busy.
How do you call a nine year old such a word??? How do you type this out and go “Yes. This rocks!” and press enter? What in the hell is wrong with you? I had many questions and no answers. All I know is the person who hit “send” on that tweet (and everyone else who might have approved it) deserves an epic dropkick.
And my outrage was matched by disgust from so many people who could not understand how that statement was made. And I thought there’d be universal disgust at the Onion’s tweet.
Except there wasn’t. Some folks started tweeting about how everyone was overreacting because we should all know that The Onion does satire and humor. It’s their thing, so we should all chill and let them do it. Also, we all must not know what satire is because it shouldn’t offend us. Oh.
I call bullshit.
We know satire and we get it. Tongue in cheek and all that good stuff. However, you CANNOT hide everything behind the humor lens. You just cannot. HA HA doesn’t exempt you from lacking ALL decency. Not at all. It does not give you a permanent get out of jail free card, nor does it negate the consequences of your words if they are reckless and reprehensible. And that tweet was both to me.
Satire is supposed to be smart and the person telling the joke should not be the only one who gets it. Context is necessary and in this one, the “joke” was the last of too many directed at a little girl who is very much on her path to greatness. But all people can focus on is her name. The satire excuse can go straight to hell here. I’m not here for it.
Quvenzhané has been the brunt of too many jokes ALREADY, so I’m coming from the angle of already being sensitive to the treatment she’s gotten from the media. And then they call her that word, which is even EXTRA harsh to call an adult. Which brings me to the most important piece here.
SHE IS A CHILD. Nine. She is a nine year old child and they called her a cunt. There’s no reason for it. No justification. No excuse good enough. She coulda taken off her shoe on that red carpet and thrown it at someone’s head and they STILL wouldn’t have the right to call her that. Because she’s a child.
But Quvenzhané has shown a lot of class and handled herself very well thus far. She’s everything BUT what they called her. And if that was their “joke” then they failed and did it sooooo poorly. If they wanted to be all “hehehehe” they coulda used another word. “Jerk” or “brat” woulda made us all chuckle. But NAWL. “Cunt” feels incredibly harsh and deliberately brutal. It’s like they discounted her humanity for the sake of a couple of RTs and laughs. In my opinion, it was because of the skin Quvenzhané is in.
Yup. That card. The race card folks say we shouldn’t pull. I can’t help but snatch it out the pile and wave it over my head. That tweet from The Onion feels like an attack on Black girls. Even if it wasn’t their intent, it certainly hurts like it was.
The word “cunt” is not racial but when it’s used to describe a 9-year old who people have been calling cocky just because she’s demanding that her difficult name be pronounced correctly, I can’t help but feel like it’s an attack on her blackhood. How many child stars have been disrespected similarly? Lindsay Lohan. Haley Joel Osment. Drew Barrymore. The Olsen Twins. Abigail Breslin. Which of them was called a cunt at 9? Oh none? Ok. If you can sit up there and say you don’t see ANY racial undertone to the treatment Quvenshané has been getting, then you might be a fool.
Would Suri Cruise ever be addressed like that? HELL NO. Because if she was, every staff member of The Onion would be at the unemployment office before you can say “disrespect.”
Whatever the reason behind the tweet, satire or other complex things I’m simply too simple to understand, I don’t care. Ultimately, when I read that tweet, I was incredibly offended on Quvenzhané’s behalf. The word “cunt.” The fact that she’s 9. The fact that I don’t think her melanin-deficient peers would be treated the same. The fact that this little girl had to tell a reporter not to call her “Annie.” The fact that no matter how huge her accomplishment is, her humanity is still questioned. Because she’s a little brown girl.
And when we defend Quvenzhané vigorously, we’re called overly sensitive and “in our feelings.” It makes my blood boil because who else will defend that girl? Surely, not the white men who are telling us all to chill because The Onion is only doing their job. Surely not the ignoramuses on Twitter and elsewhere saying we all need to just calm down and stop pulling the race card because when something “REALLY RACIST” happens, we aren’t taken seriously.
Miss Wallis isn’t being defended by those of you who think people are always angry for no reason. Those folks who love to revel in their apathy like it’s some sort of badge of honor, when really, it’s proof that they’re self-absorbed cowards. Some people live a life of lowered expectations where they accept supbar treatment from other people and wonder why the rest of us won’t. Shutting up and playing safe never made change. If people didn’t speak out against injustice and prejudice make change, we’d still be in the “black only” line. Being apathetic is not a badge.
I can’t help but defend Quvenzhané because in her, I see my niece. And my future daughter. And my goddaughter. And my cousins. And me. None of them/us/you deserve to be stomped on like that and it hurts my feelings that some people think we can be. In the name of humor. And satire. And not ruffling feathers.
Yes, they eventually deleted the tweet and the CEO of The Onion apologized. Good. He doesn’t get a pat on the back for it because he was SUPPOSED to. The damage is done here though, and The Onion’s tainted for me. Also, the “sorry” still doesn’t take away that sting. This was more than a tweet. It was more like society showing it’s collective ass in 140 characters and the “sorry” should have never been necessary to begin with. Because “cunt” should have never been used to describe this beautiful nine year old girl.
Her name is Quvenzhané Wallis. Learn to say it and spell it correctly. Her name is her name. She is more than the jokes people are telling and she’s greater than this discussion. And I hope she knows that she’s worth the whole entire world and she’s worth defending and respect and love and honor and everything else that’s good.
I might not have said all this best so here are others who knocked it out the ballpark.
Afrobella – Quvenzhané Wallis Deserves Better
For Harriet – For Quvenzhané: Call Me by My Name and “Cunt” Ain’t It
xoJane – An Open Letter to The Onion
Black Girl Dangerous – The Thing About Being A Little Black Girl In the World: For Quvenzhané Wallis
Simply Beez – Quvenzhané Appreciation Day
I heart you Luvvie. To Quvenzhane “Is My Nam” Wallis ~ SHINE on baby girl.
@Miss Barbara and everyone,FWIW, I do NOT feel that little Miss Quvenshané was at ALL being ‘cocky’..to my mind that conjures a definition of being conceited and disrespectful,which clearly Miss Q.is NOT..this child has simply got a healthy dose of sassafras to her grand little self..confident,cute and radiating her own brand of sunshine all around her..And that vile,disgusting,fouler-than-the-hinges-of-Hades ‘word’??!! Dear God,if I even thought some fool was even THINKING that referring to any child I’d kick their collective azzes so fast and hard they’d choke to death on my shoe leather!
I further do NOT believe for a second that one of these nasty jerks WOULD,’joke/satire’or not,even THINK of pulling a stunt like that if it was Suri Cruise or some other golden-haired junior little goddess and I,being waaaayy into my 50’s and lightish beige-y if not lily white female do NOT even HAVE a ‘race card’to pull! There! Thanks to any and all who took the time to tolerate my lil’rant :)!
Thank you for reading them for filth. I could not even articulate properly last night. Things like this name me afraid to reproduce because I would cut somebody if they called my daughter a cunt.
Amen and amen! I agree with you totally. The fact that it took them over one hour to take the tweet down. The fact that people was liking the tweet. The half ass apology. I have been pissed bout it.
Sometimes I can’t stand people
This lil girl is going to be a bad mufukka, and America is going to have to deal with it. She is already great, and she doesn’t seem like the type that is going to bend. If she’s 9, this talented, and this confident, she’s going to go incredibly far, whether Hollywood likes it or not. She’s going to have that one breakout role beside the one she was nominated for, and she’s going to be bigger than Halle,, and people will have no choice but to bow down. Watch.
All of this!!! like Pia Glenn said freedom of Speech is not freedom of Consequences. You don’t think what happened was vile and vicious and lacking all human decency ill pray for you and all your descendants. He’ll no we won’t let this slide not on behalf of this extraordinary nine year old Oscar Nom. No ma’am not this little black girl and def. not during Black History Month and not on my watch. MLK and Malcolm didn’t die for this bullshit nor did Hattie Mcdaniel’s. Yes I’m in my feelings and I give zero Fucks how anyone feels about it. All you stop pulling the race card black and white folks keep acting like Racism Died during the Civil Rights movement whatever helps y’all sleep at night.
^^^ What she said.
Thank you so much for posting this. I have been doing my part in posting every ding dang thought I’ve had on this subject all day!
I wrote a strongly worded letter to the editors of The Onion prior to their apology. I’ve posted thoughts on FB. I was so mad I cried. How do you say that about a beautiful baby girl holding a puppy dog purse??? I’m just over it.
First they tore down Gabby at the summer Olympics, now this. They even had the nerve to try to come at Michelle Obama for presenting an award! When can we as black women/girls just be celebrated for being talented, accomplished and beautiful! Le sigh…
I don’t think the apology is enough. I want them to PAY. I need reparations. They need to establish a 4-year scholarship for Quvenzhane’ or something! I mean, it needs to hit their image and their pocketbooks. I need it. Thanks for writing. Everyone hug a black child today.
TELL ‘EM! There is always negativity and haters for everyone and everywhere, but if you notice the ‘BLACK’ ones ALWAYS get torn down more! Its a pure shame! I am still upset how the media lynched Fantasia and adored Alicia, and yet they guilty of the EXACT same thing… Only difference is Alicia had his baby and he did leave his wife… We so need more STRONG BLACK VOICES IN THE MEDIA! thank you Luvvie!
and Deekie Mac…
Michelle Obama will take every opportunity to display herself instead of developing a little class as first lady to represent this country. I’m surprised she wasn’t home planning her next vacation on the taxpayers’ checkbooks. Before everyone has a fit, this comment IS NOT because she is black … Ms. Rice is a black woman everyone in America can be proud of. Please Michele, just worry about that extra glass of water each day.
Amen and Hallelujah! This was enough to make you give up on life and humanity. Thank you for saying what need to be said!
And I hope she knows that she’s worth the whole entire world and she’s worth defending and respect and love and honor and everything else that’s good.
This line made me get a bit choked up. I can see the faces of my beautiful nieces and I can’t imagine hearing someone call them such a disrespectful, inappropriate name.
I went on a rant about this last night and I’ll attempt to paraphrase said rant here…Before my daughter was born, I prayed that she’d have some heat to her. I wanted her to be fiery. Why? Because the world isn’t kind to brown girls/women. We’ve become the beast of burden for everyone’s weight and we are expected to take it. I want her to be bold enough to say that others’ s*&t isn’t her s&*t. I want her to be a warrior princess because that’s what this world and its crass system demand that she be in order to maintain her self respect.
I’m smart. I teach English and therefore satire but that ain’t it. And if anyone referred to my baby as that disgusting term, it would be me and their throat.
I love you.
Wow. This is the most beautiful comment I have ever read. I love all of this. ALL OF THIS.
And Luvvie, girl, this was an incredibly written post. I got choked up reading it, especially when you said you see your future daughter in Quvenzhané. I feel exactly the same.
Bravo! Bravo! I cringe at the thought of her mother having to explain what the word means. No 9 year old should have to understand such blatant ignorance at such an early age. I have 4 nieces and I would die just thinking about explaining something so hateful to them.
Not for nothing though, I’ve watched this little spitfire in interviews and something tells me that she reads ignorant adults for filth quite regularly! As she should!
“Say it to my face!”
Today people say what they want to say behind a profile or even their company’s profile. Folks have a belief of saying what they want to say with a false sense of belief that it’s ok or other folks are being too sensitive. It’s why when I see who has comments on Twitter I check to see how “complete” their profile is or if is just enough without showing who they really are.
If calling a grown woman a cunt is wrong, I don’t see who ANYONE would think it’s alright to call a child by that name.
You can tell Quvenzhané’s mom is actually giving her a strong foundation. Now if we can get rid of not just the idiots that she has recently dealt with but all the idiots who can see injustice and stupidity.
Luvvie, let’s not even speak of a hypothetical situation where Suri Cruise gets cussed out. Let’s rewind a little and look at that famous incident when Kanye went and interrupted Taylor Swifts speech. The reaction to that (the worldwide collective gasp and clutching of pearls) was followed up by brutal articles about Kanye’s actions and character. A 9 yr old brown girl is called a cunt (ugh…I despise that word)and some people have gone above and beyond the call of duty and their pay grade to try to justify it as if it could be justified. If any of those people were horrified by Kanye’s actions yet have the unmitigated gall to defend the onion, then they can have several seats.
Agreed. Very well put
Thank you!!! As a teacher of middle school students, every year there is at least one name on the class roster that in no way is pronounced the way it is spelled. I try my best to pronounce it correctly from the first day forward and trust me, those children appreciate the effort. What some feel as cocky is what I call confidence in a little girl who is proud of her name and not afraid to let anyone (including adults) get away with mispronouncing it. It’s very easy to crush a child’s spirit, make them feel shame and take away their self confidence. I am very proud of this little lady, Miss Quvenzhané for having the maturity and self-confidence within herself to correct those who don’t take the time to learn the pronunciation. Her parents have done an excellent job in raising her thus far. Go ahead little brown girl. Yes, you do indeed ROCK and the sky’s the limit for what you can achieve 🙂
Middle school teachers rock!!!!!
I just want to THANK YOU for speaking out about this. When I saw the tweet last night I was ready to burn the entire building where The Onion is located smh. For shame. I still cant believe that the person who did this has not been stoned in the streets. What made me even more sad was NOT seeing a single (I mean not even 1) comment on Facebook from anyone (except you and other media outlets) in my news feed about this situation. I was dumb struck by the nonchalance that seems to have consumed the hearts of people that I call (stranger) friend.
i was SOBBING when i saw the ugly reactions. then i fought the air.
you said all the things i can’t.
Quvenzhané is such a precious angel. that smile!!!!!!
Thank you so much for this. I just shared it on all my social media platforms. If we don’t protect our children, who will? I am so upset about that tweet and even more disturbed by the people (especially some black women) who don’t comprehend what’s so offensive and outrageous. But it’s good to know that there are plenty of people with good sense who are outraged and rightly so. Thank you for your voice. This has definitely proven the old adage that Common Sense aint common.
PREACH LUVVIE!!!!!!!! *Sits down at the church organ* Don’t make me cue the shout music.
“Her name is Quvenzhané Wallis. Learn to say it and spell it correctly. Her name is her name. She is more than the jokes people are telling and she’s greater than this discussion. And I hope she knows that she’s worth the whole entire world and she’s worth defending and respect and love and honor and everything else that’s good.”
I love that you ended with this. Such a powerful writer!
Very well said!
Yes, yes, God yes! I had quite a few people show their asses on FB when I shared your post on the subject. They couldn’t seem to get the fact that the “joke” was blatantly sexist and came from racist undertones. Everyone involved would have been drawn and quartered if the target was Suri Cruise (or any other young, Caucasian actress).
In this case, Lil Q is supposed to just take it on the chin, right? It’s a joke! It’s humor! LOL forever, amirite?! That’s what black girls deserve, right? Sad, sad, sad. I can’t even deal anymore.
Well said! Respect!
Side bar, I’m Kenyan, i have spspeak swahili and Quvenzhane is not a swahili word. AT. ALL. Apart from that, I absolutely loved her as hushpuppy in Beasts of the southern wild, she carried that whole movie. I absolutely commend you for speaking up for her.
*I have spoken Swahili since birth.
Zhané isn’t Swahili? The Quven part is a combo of her parents’ names but I thought the Zhane part was what was Swahili. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Ya, Zhane is sometimes Hebrew, a variant of Jane. It’s not Swahili, and if it is, it’s not the word for Fairy.
Side bar: Quvenzhane was interviewed and they asked her about her name… She says the Q and the U are from her mom and sister, the V, E, N is from her 2 brothers and dad, and yes the rest is Swahili, and it is suppose to mean fairy…
Luvvie, I support your feelings on this. Reminds me the first RT I read of yours, voicing a thoughtful opinion on the anti-Chris Brown backlash and made me see a different side of it. I respected you then and I hope you respect me now. Through the aftermath of an obviously bad decision on The Onion’s part, you can also see a couple of things… The crux of this “joke” seems to be that in reality everyone adores this charming little girl. That is all I was able to find when I looked around. The only way this Onion writer (whom I would think values their job) could possibly have come to the conclusion that it was ok to hit send on that line was that the overwhelming perception was that the complete opposite was true. I hope you can see the positive way this little girl is being viewed at a moment when people are just being introduced to her.
The thing with her name, if you’re to blame anyone, blame the publicist for not being more outfront with her story, or maybe just let her be a kid and don’t try to handle her too carefully. But to say the playfulness with her name was intentionally malicious is just going a little far. I’m a grown man and I have NO idea how to make conversation with any 9 nine year old girl.
At some point some of us also gotta be able to play the #oversensitive card. Don’t wanna fight about this. Just making dialog on an issue that is also deeply important to me. In the context of the things said about Honey Boo Boo on a daily basis, this little girl was being treated well … right up until that unfortunate moment. Can’t sometimes people just be simply stupid?
Can’t sometimes people just be simply stupid?
Yup, they can. But should “simply stupid” not have consequences when it’s also hurtful, misogynistic and mean?
As a schoolteacher, I recognize that children (as well as adults) constantly push the envelope to see what they can get away with. If I don’t “check” my student for playing with his pencil while I’m talking, eventually he will start talking while I’m talking and think he can get away with it. Likewise, if I don’t “check” people on how to pronounce my name, they will eventually call me out of my name and think its okay. It’s important to be diligent in the little things if we expect to affect change on a larger scale. So if you call me a cunt and I don’t seem outraged, you may call me a nigger later and be surprised that I’m upset.
Even more, you may beat your child out of love and because you want them to be disciplined, but if you leave scars I have every right to cause child protective services. The intent is not what makes it right. The act in itself is either right or wrong. Calling a child a cunt, no matter what the intent or feelings that motivate it, is WRONG!
It is important to look at both sides of the argument, and it’s apparent that the hype behind Quvenzhane’s success and the public astonishment led to the abrasive tweet (biased…I know). But just as Luvvie stated in her post, after being the brunt of jokes all night, the Onion’s post just went too far, and they needed to be “checked”.
No…not when it comes to children. That is why children should be left out of this game. What did she do to deserve this? This is not about the Onion…How do you make her understand. I should not have had to have this conversation with my son, but I did. Guess what he still doesn’t understand. He’s twelve years old and asked me what she did wrong to make them call her a bad name.
People should then not open their mouth and display their ignorance…
Luvvie, that last paragraph got me right here *pointing to heart*. I can’t even begin to put into words the anger, hurt, and shock i feel about the tweet and those who are defending it and/or upset that they apologized. So I’ll simply say ditto.
Great post, but did you see the continued “targeting” of Quvenzhane in Chicago’s RedEye by Dana Moran? She wrote that Quvenzhane’s puppy purse “better have watermelon lip smackers in it”! I called her on the race-baiting on twitter and by email, to which she tweeted a reply that watermelon is her favorite flavor. Yeah right! Am I now overprotective of our little Miss Wallis?
You put how I was feeling in a coherent, direct post. For the past 24 hours I have felt like cussing out every person who has told me, “oh lighten up, it was just a joke.” It was not a joke, it was in poor taste, and I think it was racist and wrong. I realize now that I need to let this go because it is raising my blood pressure. Thank you so much for putting into words what I couldn’t.
Beautifully written, Luvvie. Great job.
Nah, you said it EXACTLY right.
Luvvie, you GOT TO give a shout out to the mens who have been strong for little Q. Wendell Pierce has been standing SKRONG for Quvenzhané!! Here are but three of his many slammin’ tweets.
@snarky_harding I’m not naive. I’ll defend a child.What offends me more is knowing they would never offend anyone in LA that could hire them
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) February 25, 2013
@thesteamer There is a concept of honor. I am about to literally see her. What kind of man would I be to let the Onion treat her that way.
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) February 25, 2013
@thesteamer I would never let anyone call my mother a cunt, and you wont getaway with calling Quvenzhane one.
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) February 25, 2013
And here’s another piece by NOLA writer and father, Jarvis DeBerry, to his babygirl, Naomi. Naomi has a wonderful daddy!!
YES! And YES! All of this and then some. Wonderfully written Ms. Luvvie.
Gandelfinakis, zwelweiger, kunis, jolie, speigleberg, seinfeld, etc… They can say and spell those names no problem without correction or a dreaded “nickname”. Anyone else, they make a fuss over a “different” name.
They pay PAs to get the names correct, record the pronunciations for the hosts to listen to, prep them over and over before live shows. This one name warrants the same respect and regard as everyone else no matter where it comes from.
Even if they called her a brat, it still would not have been funny. They have worst characters on that carpet than this well behaved child. Diva in the making…ok maybe…anything else is unacceptable.
And they will bend over backwards to pronouce every designer out there; Prabal Garung, Naeem Khan, L’Wren Scott, and Domenico Vacca
to name just a few. They get it right even if they have to have it spellled phonetically and practiced at home.
This fabulous 9 year old is an Academy Award nominee. She deserved respect. She deserves her name to be pronounced correctly and she does NOT deserved to be called out of her name in such a low class manner.
Everybody also missed that in his opening number Seth joked that her name was the equivalent to a vision test. It happened really quick and I was disgusted. That’s when I shut off the tv! I felt really bad for her, notwithstanding the whole Onion thing.
Amen Amen Amen. Spent half the day fighting with fools about this on facebook. And will do it every day if I have to.
Long time reader and first-time commenter here. You could not have put it more succinctly. I didn’t watch the Oscars and when I logged on yesterday to see who won, I was aghast at what I heard went down, starting with the Onion post. I challenge anyone who thinks what the Onion did to go up to their boss and call them the C-word in the name of jokes and satire and see how well it goes down.
Its not really a joke if the only person amused is the joke-teller.
As much accolades and love as shes been getting, that little girl has not had an easy time and will not because of her color. As you rightly pointed out,people had nothing but praise for the Dakota Fannings and Abigail Breslin’s of the world, or heck, those two little girls who always go on Ellen and everyone is all “adorbs, cute, etc” yet, you have a little brown girl in the same spotlight, shes cocky, full of herself, lacks humility…..I guess black children really should be seen and not heard. SMH….We really have a long way to go. Quvenzhane’s parent’s seem to be doing a great job thus far and I hope they continue to instill the same confidence in her and teach her to stand up for herself. She will definitely need it. What with the likes of Chrissy Tiegen tweeting that she hates her and calling her “cocky” and “bratty”, just for existing it boggles the mind.
Racialicious has another great take on the issue here its worth a read: http://www.racialicious.com/2013/02/25/apparently-people-have-beef-with-quvenzhane-wallis/
Finally, can someone please kindly find Chrissy Teigen a seat or four? Cuz’ the heifer is clearly in need of some alone time to evaluate her lifespace.
That Chrissy…..OOOO Girl…
Aside from her not being a woman of African descent, I can’t fathom why else Legend is marrying her. Judging from her prior Twitter rants, she seems to be arrogant and aloof. Such a nasty attitude and she hides behind this veil of “you don’t like what I say, then you’re stupid”.
!!!!!!! I can not stand her like homegirl stay in your lane comedienne you are not. She acts more like a brat than any nine year old I know. I loves me some John Legend and she makes him look bad.
I am NOT HERE for Chrissy!!!! She then defends herself by simply stating she doesn’t like kids. Girl… GOOD NIGHT!
Well said. I still don’t see or feel the racial angle of it, but your “That tweet from The Onion feels like an attack on Black girls. Even if it wasn’t their intent, it certainly hurts like it was” has done the best job of helping me to see that point of view.
I don’t understand how people CAN’T see the racial side of it. Even if attacking her because of her race wasn’t the intent, the REACTIONS of people to the tweet and subsequent apology are what makes me sick the most. People saying things like ‘get over it’, and ‘no big deal’ would not be so blase about it if Suri Cruise or young Dakota Fanning or (insert blonde haired, blue-eyed child celebrity name here) had been on the recieving end. No, freaking, way. You can’t tell me that the reactions wouldn’t be different because they would be. THAT is racial angle of this. Where is the outrage for this innocent child? I guarantee if she were white, it would be much different.
Your whole comment just screams racist on your part. What was said about that little girl was disgusting, but as usual it somehow turns back on the “evil white person”. So sick of the so called race card when common decency should reign.
Thank you Luvvie. The fact that you even had to write this made me cry.
You know, someting that’s been bothering me lately is all of the outlashing towards women of color in the media lately. First, it was Beyonce at the Inauguration. Then, there was Beyonce at the Super Bowl and Alicia Keys. Last night, beef about Michelle Obama being there. I mean, I heard on the news this morning (one of those stupid morning shows) about how it’s rude that Michelle showed up and wasn’t invited into our lives? Basically stating that she’s a political figure, and that they are forcing her on us. That she wasn’t “invited” into our lives as part of our sit-down family entertainment. And now we have Little Miss Wallis.
What the phuck is wrong with America!??! We are complalining and ranting over EVERY phucking thing and it is driving me CRAZY!!! WTF!! The First Lady has to be “invited” into our television viewing? Really? Did Jackie O? Did Barbara Bush? Nancy Regan? Are we serious!?! So basically you are telling me that you dont like it when a black woman just shows up at your house uninvited? Hmmmm… Mkay.
Kerri Wash is getting hers too, because they are trying to nitpick with her. Meghan Good has it coming as well if not already.
I’ve noticed an upward momentum of black women in Primetime TV and different TV specials. I feel like there is this sort of almost hatred and disgust because of it, and people are not trying to have that. And by people, we all know what TYPE of people.
Just my two cents.
Oh! And that word, “cunt”, is undeniably sexist. It might lack racism, but the sexism is just inherent in its definition. I have never called another woman a cunt. Shit, I dont like the word pussy. And I’m not all overly modest, but still, it’s not appropriate. I have never seen the word cunt used apart from a morally loose woman; a woman with a disgusting attitude and no couth. Like, I’ve just never. So to say that to a child or address an innocent child as such is beyond disgusting. To say that to a little black girl is hurtful and beyond demeaning; it is antagonistic. One should know that the long line of typecasting black women in the media and IRL as loose, oversexed and immodest is nothing new.
Man, later for intellectuallizing this shit! Where does this mut#afu*k& live or work?!! I got 10 black brothers that would love to pay him a visit – Real Talk!!! I’d love see what he would have to say to the BROTHERHOOD!!!
As the mother of a beautiful, precocious black girl who is not at all unlike Ms. Wallis (and as someone who used to be a little black girl), this entire episode has made me sad. And stabby. I wish had as much self confidence as she does.
We need to stand up for and protect our daughters, because Lord knows no one else is going to.
This was wonderful. That little girl deserves none of the vitrol she’s receiving. And what all because she corrected the reporter on her name. I know for sure Saoirse Ronan wasn’t on the receiving end of all this bs when she first started. In fact reporters were jumping over chairs to make sure they pronounced her name correctly, but a little black girl with a unique name gets to be the butt of the joke. I’m not even surprised, but I’m still disappointed.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the XoJane editor in chief defending this foolishnes? I understand that the article posted above wasn’t written by her, but still it’s interesting to see.
Anyway, thank you for writing this and providing us with other thoughtful pieces.
You did the damn thing here, Luvvie. I don’t know what’s made me more angry, the tweet itself or people trying to downplay/explain it away. And this isn’t average garden variety anger I’m feeling, it’s that deep down just-watched-Roots anger.
We gotta keep pushing back until society understands trashing our children is not acceptable.
You said it just as perfectly as you can. I surely hope Quvenzhane’s family sees our odes of love to her in place of all of the muck.
Thanks for the shoutout, too!
Well stated and eloquently said. I could not agree more, although I think Seth MacFarlane was shades better than Billy Crystal or even James Franco/Anne Hathaway. In his defense, he picks on everybody, so at least he’s an equal opportunity jackass. I thought he did okay, and wasn’t as offensive as I expected.
However, that Onion comment was over the line, and I for one an pulling the race card out right along with you. I believe that if it had been Dakota Fanning or even Honey-freakin-boo-boo, there would be protests and open letter and white fists raised in the air in an effort to get someone fired. The perception of black children in our society is outrageous. They expect our daughters to grow up to be hoochiefied single moms on welfare and our sons to grow up to be thugs. They see it in every one of us whether it’s the truth or not. They’ve proven that by calling that precious baby that awful, degrading name.
Brava darling. You had.said. that.
Great post Luvvie, this was from your heart! And I think this sums it up best, “HA HA doesn’t exempt you from lacking ALL decency.”!
What I don’t get is why she was called a brat in the first place? Because she wants someone to call her by her name? Hell, I don’t respond to emails with my name spelled wrong. Or is it because she flexed her muscles? But I ask, have you SEEN the movie? That movement was apart of most key parts of the movie. So, everyone was judging a 9 year old without knowing what she was doing. *I’m looking at you Chrissy Teigen*
Lastly, it hurts me that a MOTHER has to explain to a 9 year old what cunt even means. And then figure out how to continue to boost her self esteem but some jerks don’t understand when they go too far. I don’t have any children but I in tears because no little girl should have to go through this.
Oh… and learn her name! I too was puzzled but got over it and learned it. Period.
Luvvie you said exactly what I was thinking!
Miss Quvenzhané Wallis is standing on the shoulders of hundreds….NO thousands of women! We applaud her! There is nothing left for me to say but THANK YOU LUVVIE FOR THIS POST!
Excellent post Luvvie! All I think about when I see little Quvenzhane is running up and hugging her and shielding her from the world. It’s the same feeling I have when I look at my nieces, and all other little black children. There is no way anyone can tell me that tweet would have flown if they were referring to a little white girl.
Does anyone remember the joke Kathy Griffin made about Dakota Fanning, in which she referenced her being on drugs once she gets older? And, everyone in Hollywood lost it? Spielberg demanded an apology and so many of the Hollywood elite were and still are not fans of Kathy over what she said, which was not as offensive as what the Onion tweeted? Can’t nobody tell me the difference isn’t due to race.
This is the same shit the media did to Gabby Douglas (and tried to play it off, like it was black women starting the trouble), and it’s the same shit they do to all black girls and women. It’s disgusting and they (the media) will be called out every chance I get for this bullshit.
Thank you Luvvie for calling out the blatant hypocrisy! Because we are expected to correctly pronounce and spell names like “Schwarzenegger.” But white folks mad that the child’s name is Quvenzhané? Really? Quvenzhané deserves the same respect as everyone else. It shows respect for her personhood to say her name correctly. By default we are buying in tho the message that names like Becky, Helen or Sue have more value. Yet, there are some very difficult European names out there. I love her and I love her name. One thing for sure is that she will not be easily forgotten. She is memorable for her talent, her achievements and her beautiful name.
They have been treating this beautiful, talented, and lively little girl as if she does not belong. They refuse to get her name right, they are patronizing in every way possible, and then the ultimate insult, make a quick, cheap “joke” by calling her the c-word “tongue-in-cheek”. Quvenzhané already has that sass and spark she will need to be able to go up against the best of them, and I hope her parents remain ready to put folks in their place when her daughter cannot.
I am sad that the war we fight as Black women is now moving on to the next generation. Quvenzhané, Gabby, Willow, and other beautiful and talented brown girls now have to be thrust into the battle, and unless we have their backs, they will not have the armor and weapons to fight back. Since I cannot embrace Miss Q, I will tell my nieces and other young ladies in my life they are beautiful, awesome, and fierce. I want them to be able to meet criticism and hate head-on, and be able to rise above the ignorant and insecure folks who are, quite frankly, intimidated and frightened of this new and wonderful generation of superior talent.
I think the fist pumping was a little ghetto.
It wasn’t “ghetto.” She did it b/c it’s something her character in “Beasts of the Southern Wilds” did. When did fist pumping become ghetto, anyway??? It’s something you do to celebrate.
Lord help thee
Double standard. Blue-eyed blonde Jennifer Lawrence pumped her fist at the Oscars. Everyone seemed to think that was great.
Blah blah blah; race card. Seriously? Come one, people. Morgan Freeman said, “Want to end racism? QUIT TALKING ABOUT IT!”
The Onion didn’t call her a cunt because she was black; they called her a cunt because they’re ignorant and stupid. Nothing more.
So when you stop talking about something it ceases to exist..got it…so I’ll stop talking about bills and taxes and they all magically disappear. Why didnt I think of that before????? 0_o
You’re oversimplifying the argument. Ridiculous. Just saying that here it is, straight from the horses’s mouth. Wanna end racism? Quit talking about it. It’s the truth. The more you try to put black people, women, gays, etc. up on a pedastool–the more you try to enforce affirmative action–the more inequality you are creating.
No I’m not over simplifying anything. I’m going by what they replied. Come at the poster for taking the quote out of context not me. But even if I go by the extended quote the fact remains that not talking about something doesn’t make it disappear. Sorry I love Morgan Freeman but I don’t know what he was thinking such a foolish thing. No one is putting anyone on a pedastal no one is saying we are better than them or asking to for preferential treatment. Race is not a credit card we swipe when we feel like it. Race is a fact and racism exists and all we are saying is a young white girl wouldn’t have been called a CUNT period point blank.
Mostly, white people love to run to that Morgan Freeman quote when they don’t want to acknowledge racism. With that one line he’s become their “magical negro” that they hold up like “see, this older wise black man said this, so you HAVE to listen.” GTFOH. I will continue to call out racism as long as it exists.
And, tell me how its not racist that a little black girl is made the butt of numerous jokes about her name or sexualized, when that has NEVER happened to little white girls in the industry?
IMO, not discussing racism (prejudices and bigotry as well) as an effort to end racism might sound like a good plan. But you have to keep in mind, it can backfire.
*horse’s–since I know there are critics out there.
You also misspelled “pedestal”. Go and be great.
Hey Anon. I think the OP’s point must’ve thrown you off since you can’t refute the argument and have to resort to petty, childish grammar Nazi-ing.
Go and be great.
The point I was making was that if Inequality was truly conscious about her grammar, she would have noticed that as well. This isn’t an attack on her (assuming she’s a woman). Just because I correct someone, does not mean I only have petty childish debate tactics and have no better response to give. But considering how these comments are indeed anonymous, none of us can truly dictate each other’s intentions, including you. Plus, considering how I have been discussing the topic with people IRL to no avail for the past few days, and Luvvie and many commenters eloquently expressed the justified outrage concerning Ms. Wallis’ defamation, I felt there was nothing more to be said on my end, besides a tongue-in-cheek correction. But since you wish to write me off as a Grammar Nazi, I wish to turn the focal point back to the topic at hand.
My response to Inequality’s post concerning how the ignorance of racism will eventually eradicate racism echoes that of Luvvie’s and similar arguments stated above–ignorance, blatant ignorance will not make prejudices disappear. It is too steeped in our history, society and pop culture media for it to disappear because we ask nicely, or turn the other cheek. Calling out injustices concerning oppressed individuals does not place them on a pedestal, it places them in the sphere of human decency and good humor. Metaphorically speaking, members of said oppressed groups, ex. Black women and girls, have to place themselves on a pedestal just to stand at the same height as privileged people who have either been oppressively standing on our shoulders or apathetically standing on their own two feet. We have to speak out when such disrespect occurs, because solidarity within our group is crucial to our freedom (literally and figuratively) and happiness. To be treated with respect and a friendly nature, to live freely without harming anyone else or being harmed is not to be placed on a pedestal, it is to live life as is.
I hope my refuting of Inequality’s argument find both of you well.
Oh, I was so with this until you said that no white girl would have been called the “c” word. Do you really think this was some racist action more than it was some idiot trying to yank reaction from the public (which he did)? The Onion crossed the line and dared people to call them on it. And now, people have. It had nothing to do with race. It had everything to do with opportunism. Press is press.
“Do you really think this was some racist action more than it was some idiot trying to yank reaction from the public (which he did)?”
The initial intent might not have been racially motivated, but the underlying effect definitely has racial implications.
The Onion tweeter’s intent at the moment of tweeting those words might not have been blatantly because Quvenzhane is black (ie “i’m gonna call her a cunt because she’s black”), but what people are trying to convey is that her race is the thing that made it seem okay to the tweeter to not think twice about tweeting such a vile, despicable thing about a 9 year-old girl.
There is this thoughtlessness and carelessness that comes from a place of privilege that allows non-colored people to say and do things to their colored counterparts, that they would think twice about if it were aimed at their fellow non-coloreds. This is why people are making the argument that if Quvenzhane was a little white girl, the media response would have been different. Though Quvenzhane is the youngest academy award nominee, she is by no means the first child who has graced that stage, or thrust in the limelight. However, she is is the only black child among the many children who have had that honor and none of the others have ever been subjected to the kind of nonsense and vitriol that she has had to deal with. Why is that?
Well said! I agree.
Luvvie, great post! Little Q and her parents would be proud of you for standing up for their baby.
Thank you for helping us see the racial angle of this whole debacle. It wasn’t apparent to me at first until you dig below the surface just a little. Like most years’ past, I didn’t watch any pre-awards coverage of The Oscars (or any of the award shows) in any form or the coverage on red carpet, so I was completely unaware of folks butchering the girl’s name and the overall disrespectful treatment she had received. I mean the Oscars is the last official award show of the season. You’d think these folks would have perfected the pronunciation of her name by that point if they actually cared at all. Public comments on any number of articles and blogs related to this tweet or little Q have been particularly vicious — infusing their own brand of racism on this story. It’s not likely the idiot tweeter at The Onion intended to cause a racial firestorm with his post (gosh, how it better damn well have been a male as I couldn’t imagine a female being so despicable to a little girl). It was a sad, indecent attempt at humor, and I’m hoping from this point forward bloggers, tweeters, reporters, etc. will realize children should be off limits.
Aside from this, Luvvie — from one writer to another — I find your humor cool, entertaining and witty and your writing refreshing. You walk a fine line without being offensive. I laugh at you without feeling the least bit guilty. I just wish this new breed of comedians/writers/tweeters or whatever they want to call themselves would learn how to do it too.
While I think we can all agree that The Onion’s tweet was inappropriate, it seems lost on people that The Onion has written worse, often in the form of whole articles, and gotten no negative backlash as a result. This is The Onion. The Onion that made fun of God Almighty, dictators, poverty stricken countries, homicide victims, child abuse, and, today, how yesterdays snow storm in Chicago is delaying murders. Do you think this is funny? Yeah, you do. Don’t act like you don’t, because you do. If you didn’t, nobody would’ve even read the Quvenzhané tweet. The fact that this was the last straw for so many of us should cause us not to question The Onion, but to also question ourselves. And, in that questioning of ourselves, maybe we’ll admit we aren’t without fault, and that the humor we enjoy is often not without cost.
thanks for the post luvvie! i didn’t even hear about this story until you posted it. i saw the view the friday before the oscar’s and the guy (don’t remember his name) he made jokes about her name right after sherri sheppard pronounced her name to him. that had rubbed me the wrong way. this has me livid. i have a simple last name and it PISSES me off that every one else on the planet, except for white people gets my name wrong. to me it’s a sign of disrespect and irrelevance.
The Onion is disgusting. For shame.
Pia Glenn’s open letter to them was wonderfully written and filled with fire, but I can’t help but be a little sad and angry that she didn’t have that same vigor when talking with Lisa Lampenilli over her tweet of the n-word.
This hurt my soul and then on twitter that moel christy teleglie or whatever her name is (dates John Legend) was making crazy attacks against this beautiful child saying she was cocky and asking if she had to like her because she is nine…..so shameful and attention seeking.
I just want to put it out… I totally disapproved Kanye disrespecting poor Taylor Swift. I was not the only one EVERYONE went crazy and off on Kanye for that… I so feel as though if it was Dakota Fanning (whom I love) the comment would not have been made and by some slim chance of a snowball surviving a second in hell had the comment been made the entire universe would have been in an uproar… I say that to say how can we NOT defend that baby? How can anyone dare say it was not color/ race oriented?! Dakota has been ALL over holiday and I have not heard anything remotely near disrespect! Everyone (including I) exclaim how great and cute and sweet she is. On what earth does Quvenzhané not deserve the same? SMH… Will we as humans ever get it?
As another side note. There was a time when you could call a white woman anything BUT A CUNT! Once you uttered that word it was like calling a black woman a BITCH (this was before everyone somehow became ok with it) You utter that word, you better have on grease and have taken out your earrings… So lets not look at this racially… IT IS STILL SOOOO WRONG! and I am confused at the white women who have not stood up for this YOUNG WOMAN! I read one woman’s stance and she saw no problem… Really? If this wasnt racial (WE ALL KNOW IT WAS) it is still an attack on a NINE YEAR OLD GIRL! Every MOTHER and WOMAN around the world should have went 9-11 on them (yea I said it!) and so should every dad! So race card off the table… still in no way shape, form or fashion is it acceptable, excusable or tolerable to refer to a NINE YEAR old as a cunt!!!!
While I hope that Quvenzhane has been shielded by this, I am hurt and angry knowing that “cunt” will follow her. God willing, She will be 16 years old some day, she will be interviewed and a reporter will ask her thoughts on being called something so vile. In spite of the best intentions to protect her from this ugly today, it will make its way into her consciousness. She will know that she was called a cunt and that millions of people defended an adults “right” to do so. God bless this beautifully talented brown baby girl.
there is a backlash, a very strong backlash against non-white people, even against a child…it will only get worse
“Those folks who love to revel in their apathy like it’s some sort of badge of honor, when really, it’s proof that they’re self-absorbed cowards.”
Luvvie, I want you with me when it’s brawl time.
She is adorable. Nothing else to say.
It is not imagination. Young Black Girls in North America are media targets because mainstream society are desperate for Young Black Girls to “learn their place” at an early age lest more of them become Quvenzhane Wallis, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama, Willow Smith, Gabrielle Douglas, Venus Williams, Serena Williams–or heaven forbid–First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia Obama USED to be criticized like grown women until the President stepped to the media and said, “Not MY children, you don’t.” You don’t hear much sniping and complaining about those two very well-behaved girls any more.
Venus and Serena Williams, if not for their father (who the media HATED for not letting them “get at” his girls), would have been chewed up in the sports media meat grinder. Some of us recall when the girls got booed and called racist names by North Americans when they played doubles or singles overseas.
Amanda Steinberg became the target of her own Twitter attack by ignorant, illiterates and racists who expressed repulsion at the thought of a Black female scifi hero.
Gabrielle Douglas heard side commentary from her own teammates about the width of her nose and got called a “flying squirrel.”
I’ve also seen nasty commentary against Willow Smith for being the privileged child of wealthy, powerful actors in Hollywood.
Little Black Girls are TARGETED. It is not your/our imagination. Mainstream society wants Little Black Girls to know their place is not first, second, third, or even fourth. They want to do enough psychological damage to convince Little Black Girls that their place is last, that they mean less, that they are worth less. That no one will defend them when White males and/or females of privilege attack.
Thank God Quvenzhane Wallis has the self-confidence, self-worth, and self-knowledge, the bravery and the class to look grown rich White male idiots of privilege with media power and dominance straight in the face and let them know that SHE KNOWS WHO SHE IS and who she is not. These patriarchal racists–writers at The Onion, writers at SNL, writers at The Academy Awards–attempted their very best to marginalize Wallis with C-Bomb, Little Q, Miss Q, “Annie” and she did not allow them to call her out of her name or maintain any social or cultural power over her. Now that’s a child well-raised.
By the way, if Hollywood can say Schwartzenegger, then they can say Quvenzhane or continue to reveal themselves as the racist illiterates and social misfits they likely are anyway.
And I did notice that none of the blue-eyed blonde female child actors–Ashely and Elizabeth Olson, Abigail Breslin, Dakota Fanning–received the level of contempt, loathing, disrespect, and “satire” thrown Quvenzhane’s way. Certainly, Jennifer Lawrence did not. Harvey Weinstein would have fallen upon The Onion like a ton of bricks if she’d been C-Bombed either before or after receiving her Oscar. Lawrence’s magic night and Lawrence herself remained apparently undisturbed by the disrespect shown her fellow nominee.
I truly wonder whether any of these women recognize their White privilege granted by their White male protectors, but I doubt it. Everyone seems color-blinded by all the “satire.”
The only two Black females at the Academy Awards with any camera time–First Lady Michelle Obama and Quvenzhane Wallis–received vituperative commentary for daring to show their brown faces and daring to breathe the rare air of that White-dominated world.
Hollywood and mainstream media have revealed themselves time and again as purveyors of racial hatred and misogyny.
I love the way not only First Lady Michelle Obama, but also Quvenzhane Wallis refuse to bow down. These two wonderful role models know and understand that their place is wherever they want it to be and the White patriarchy in North America need to get with that program.
[…] not forgiven them for their “joke” about Quvenzhané Wallis (for a review of that mess, read Awesomely Luvvie’s thoughts), those two articles are the epitome of the snark, sarcasm and punch to the gut smart writing the […]
[…] T. F. Charlton at Bitch Magazine, Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous, Roxane Gay at The Rumpus, Luvvie Ajayi at Awesomely Luvvie, Monica Roberts at Transgriot, the list goes on. And I ended up writing my post because of the […]
Revisiting this issue to report that The Onion ceased its print publication due to a lack of advertising dollars.
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