1:54 pm - 02/25/2013

Quvenzhané Wallis Is No Joke

Jamilah Lemieux says the nasty comments about the young star are infuriating, but not at all surprising

By Jamilah Lemieux News and Lifestyle Editor

Quvenzhané Wallis is a hero at age 9. If being a movie star before hitting the double digits weren't enough, she's a hero for being a Black girl who makes sure you know how to say her name. For those of us who have names that are less-than-easy to pronounce if you're only used to hearing Mary, Sarah and Brittney, you may have experienced moments where you wanted to---needed to---stop someone from calling you the wrong thing, but you just didn't have the heart. Perhaps the speaker was 'close enough,' or you didn't want to call more attention to yourself. I've allowed a number of people to call me "Jah-MIL-lah" instead of "Jah-MEE-lah" over the years, largely because I didn't feel like having to correct them. But baby girl has no problem calmly breaking her name down at any opportunity: Kwe-VEN-zhah-nay.

Sadly, it seems that Wallis is already being informed of how the world sees Black girls who dare to own themselves.

Last night during the (long and boring) Oscars telecast, the person tweeting for satirical publication The Onion decided to make a joke at Best Actress nominee's expense: "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?"

Unbelievable. Except, it isn't.

I'm more surprised when the world gets it right when it comes to Black girls and women than I am when they get it wrong. Sisters are far too often on the butt-end of a joke or diss lobbed by some White folks or our own brothers. Hood girls are eternal punchlines. The First Lady's brains, body and bangs are the subject of scrutiny from both writers and conservative leaders who couldn't even level their White and male privilege to match her accomplishments. Beyonce was a treasonist for using a backing track at the Inauguration. And now, on what should have been the most sparkly day of Quvenzhané's life, some fool made a cheap attempt at getting LOLz by calling her a dirty word.

We already know that in the inevitable interviews that find the 9-year-old forced to acknowledge the nasty tweet, little Miss Wallis will say something wise and remind us just why we love her so much---just as she has when chopping down reporters for butchering her name. Her puppy purse and poppin' curls aren't gonna stop for The Onion, believe that. Nor will they stop for the gross quip host Seth Macfarlane made about her and George Clooney, who has a penchant for dating much younger women. Speaking of the Family Guy creator, who is being widely panned for his "sexist, racist and homophobic" jokes last night, it's safe to assume that Rihanna won't be fazed by his domestic violence quip---yet another one that I doubt we'd hear if the 2009 Grammy fight involved Taylor Swift instead of the Barbadian bombshell--- at her expense either.

I wish that Quvenzhané could enjoy her newfound fame without these hard-earned Black girl lessons, but they would have caught her on the block, in the classroom, on the internet at some point even if she hadn't garnered an Oscar nod.

The Onion has deleted the tweet; it remains to be seen if a public apology or acknowledgement is to follow. Will the person responsible for that horrible tweet learn a lesson from the outcry? Perhaps. Hopefully. Seems doubtful. But maybe they will and maybe someone will now understand that using nasty, sexist language towards 9-year-old girls is not okay. It's worth noting that The Onion is not The New York Times; it's the newspaper equivalent of of Mad Magazine. They aren't informing public opinion so much as they are reflecting it, much like the many White and female commenters on Jezebel who are confessing their annoyance and distaste for the Beasts star from behind anonymous accounts

If Wallis had a difficult to say Hebrew or Eastern European name, I think reporters would would do their job and simply learn it; they'd probably apologize for getting it wrong before ever daring to say "I'm just gonna call you something I can pronounce and understand." I also doubt that so many would feel so irked by Wallis if her curls were blonde and her eyes were blue.

I wish that Quvenzhané could enjoy her newfound fame without these hard-earned Black girl lessons, but they would have caught her on the block, in the classroom, on the internet at some point even if she hadn't garnered an Oscar nod. The outpouring of praise and love for the young actress is exceptional, but the disrespect? When you're Black and female, it is to be expected. When you are self-possessed and in the public eye on top of that? It's on another level.

What will come of the inevitable boycotts of a publication few of the folks raging against it actually read? Will the anger stop at the petition level or will advertisers get pulled in? Time will reveal. In the meantime, Moya of the Crunk Feminist Collective has set a great example by penning a love letter to the little dyanamo and reminding us that we should smother Wallis with love in the face of hate---because she deserves it.

Jamilah Lemieux is the News and Lifestyle Editor for EBONY.com.

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ljubavirakija 25th-Feb-2013 07:07 pm (UTC)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I hate you, Hefty Weinstein

Edited at 2013-02-25 07:07 pm (UTC)
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
Don't worry she is gonna do Annie and then run shit !!

She will an award as will Jay-Z and Will Smith and people are gonna be MAD EVERYWHERE !!!

I cunt wait !!
morgan90 25th-Feb-2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
Did you really want her win and be our generation's Tatum O'Neal? If you actually like her, give her time to mature as an actress and person
agatharuncible 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
mte, I don't think she was robbed. they evaluate people on their performances, and I'm not saying she's not a good actress, but she is really young and needs time to mature. there's nothing wrong with that. plus even being nominated was impressive and imo that's probably going to encourage her more to keep maturing and working.
myrrhmade 25th-Feb-2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
Flawless bb tbh
gorlplz 25th-Feb-2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
omfg that scene

lemme have a breakdown real quick
mjspice 26th-Feb-2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
She'll get it when she grows up. Don't worry.
supertex 25th-Feb-2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
is there a gif of her flexing during the show last night? i liked it!
abiding 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
supertex 25th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
thanks bb!

she is holding it DOWN!!! (and past her bedtime)
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
cutie pie
puremorning2468 25th-Feb-2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
This was so cute.
iheartfamke 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
lol this HDTV gif.
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
awww <3 <3 bless her heart
napaypayso 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
morgan90 25th-Feb-2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
It totally wasn't just a misstep by some dumbass intern, The Onion is actually filled with ~secret racists~
soba_kasu 25th-Feb-2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
had nothing to do with her race. calling her a cunt was funny because shes a sweet little girl. the joke is that she couldnt be further from being a cunt. do people honestly need this explained to them? lemme grab something to take the stick out of your ass

Edited at 2013-02-25 07:35 pm (UTC)
majuliefan 25th-Feb-2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
The fuck? Calling ANYWOMAN a cunt is NOT FUCKING OKAY.
kurtvonnegut 25th-Feb-2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
i think morgan was being facetious
bellwetherr 25th-Feb-2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
No one needs the joke explained to them but thanks for your widsom dipshit. We just don't think the joke is funny or appropriate.
tinsleyy 25th-Feb-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
yah no shes 9 though
soho 25th-Feb-2013 09:37 pm (UTC)
lol @ you acting as if we don't get the joke. Yeah, we get it. It was still disgusting.

You probably watch a lot of Family Guy.
katiluv87 25th-Feb-2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I'm glad this award season is over for her, she seemed so tired of doing interviews.
stephantasm 25th-Feb-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
she gets so much shit for no reason. like, this site loves to say ppl get it for no reason right after lists of actual reasons to hate someone but she literally hasn't done anything but be a little black girl and she gets shat on.
whiskybars 25th-Feb-2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
ikr that's what gets me the most
foxtree 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
There was one poster in the Onion thread who was like "yeah, that joke wasn't funny, but I don't think she's as cute as everyone else, so..."

stephantasm 25th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
You don't even have to care about her that much to know calling a little girl that slur is fucked up. And it was most-likely by a grown-ass white dude... people really baffle me.
imnotasquirrel 25th-Feb-2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
weren't there several posters like that? rme.
h0tfuss 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
I ~almost saw where some of it was coming from for a minute, though I still never blamed her for it. On some of her appearances, it was clear that she was being coached to adopt a certain kind of persona, and it wasn't really working for her. But that's the problem of putting a 9-year-old on a talk show in the first place. She has no social or professional life (beyond this film) to talk about, and she can't even see most of the movies that are nominated for Oscars. So yeah, putting a little kid in the insane adult world of Hollywood is going to create a lot of weird moments.
moneeypenny 25th-Feb-2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
i don't understand either
saltireflower 25th-Feb-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
People have butchered my name forever, but most are usually very polite and apologetic about it. They do not assign me a new name. It is not that goddamn hard to do.
whiskybars 25th-Feb-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
it's infuriating that she has to deal with this shit at 9 years old when it was meant to be a magical night for her. meanwhile, quirky white girls everywhere get a pass for flipping the bird at the same events.

i am beyond done.
foxtree 25th-Feb-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
This entire article is on point. I'm reading comments on other sites about her replacing Willow Smith in Annie and it's just depressing.

Also that little girl should just fine people a dollar for every dumbass joke about her name and she'll have enough for college if she ever stops acting tbh.
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
mte Aisha

I wanna frame this article
whiskybars 25th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
how is she full of herself for being proud of her accomplishment? jesus fucking christ these people are fucked in the head
yurasama_love 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
oh my God what the fuck
baglady25 25th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
Good God, she's 9 fucking years old. People are assholes
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
I want to break things
ugly_jacket 25th-Feb-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
i'm guessing none of those people have ever interacted with a 9 year old and i really hope they don't have kids
astralwish 25th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
IDK if that's what they were referring to but there were tons of racist comments on the post RE: her being casted as Annie..
napaypayso 25th-Feb-2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
supertex 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
i lol'd irl when i saw this movie
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
queen tbh
moneeypenny 25th-Feb-2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
LOL loved this part.
eggtard 25th-Feb-2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
i loved her in this part haha

is it just me, though, or does the dialogue really seem like an adult writing for a child rather than something a child would actually say? it just feels like some quirky mid-20s theatre writer put down what they thought a quirky awesome kid should say?


just me?

love Q tho.
lucygray 26th-Feb-2013 01:41 am (UTC)
i love the movie, i agree with you tho!
eswnrtm 25th-Feb-2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see her play Chiwetel's daughter in that McQueen film and as Annie.
saltireflower 25th-Feb-2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
I love your icon. And I'm looking forward to 12 Years a Slave too.
eswnrtm 25th-Feb-2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
ty! <3
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
ikr she's gonna slay
hpxstac 25th-Feb-2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
What?!!!! That's happening?! Be still my beating heart. I love Chiwetel and Quvenzhane. This sounds perfect.
hirolin 25th-Feb-2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Ugh the stuff people are saying about her (especially when it comes to her upcoming role as Annie) is toxic.

And then there's the thing with the anonymous Oscar voter who wouldn't vote for her because he/she couldn't pronounce her name...? I just...what.
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
.................... what is this shit
napaypayso 25th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
combination racist and internet tough guy
abiding 25th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
sandvich 25th-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
Who the hell is Will Jazz?
saltireflower 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
Lmao I just noticed that.
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
I guess they were referring to DJ Jazzy Jeff

but he has no involvement with the film so wtf
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
agatharuncible 25th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)

I don't care about Annie either way but tbh if you prefer the original Annie because that was the first Annie you ever watched or whatever, nobody's forcing you (general you btw) to watch the new remake.
aflaminghalo 25th-Feb-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
That last sentence is fucking killing me.

rheya_kelvin 25th-Feb-2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
How ironic considering the last line summarizes why so many POC can't stand White people.
metyouwho 25th-Feb-2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oh for fuck's sake. Just say "I want to remember Annie always as the little white girl". Just fully commit.
tinsleyy 25th-Feb-2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
holy fucking racism
eomir 25th-Feb-2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Then don't fucking watch the new one. How hard is that? I love the original Annie but I'm excited to see Quvenzhane in it and see what she does with the part. I'm pretty certain she's going to be just as cute and tough as the original.
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
ljubavirakija 25th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
sandvich 25th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
Jfc. She's nine years old.
swissbeauty23 25th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
people are sick
transientv 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
"She wasn't not called a cunt because she was black"
You are correct, captain double negative.
brucelynn 25th-Feb-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
See this is my problem with the whole thing , alot of people took it to heart and used it as ammo against her
shining_starsxx 25th-Feb-2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Seven hells.
moneeypenny 25th-Feb-2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
jfc. this people need to reevaluate their life
vehiclesshockme 25th-Feb-2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
Wow. People are fucking horrible.
sunredskyblue 25th-Feb-2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
how is she a "cunt" though? she didn't do anything :(
tinsleyy 25th-Feb-2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
honestly this whole comment section is infuritating. the stupidityyyyy
fancypiink 25th-Feb-2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
i doubt this person even knew who she was before the onion decided to be stupid.
abiding 25th-Feb-2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
I detect no lies in this article.
fear_toxin 25th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
" The First Lady's brains, body and bangs are the subject of scrutiny from both writers and conservative leaders who couldn't even level their White and male privilege to match her accomplishments."

Presenting awards,wearing is srs bsns.
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