All Articles Tagged "quvenzhané wallis"
Growing up with the name Ashley Iman I was granted a sort of flexibility. When I wanted to appear racially ambiguous I would simply write Ashley and when I felt more comfortable I’d write the full Ashley Iman. Ashley is an Old English name and my spelling is very common in the United States across races. Iman, on the other hand, is Arabic, meaning faith and although I know a couple Iman’s now as an adult and it’s not quite as common. In the wake of September 11 I decided to drop Iman altogether not picking it up again until nearly ten years later. As a child, I was trying to seem as “American” as possible. But what is an American name? Furthermore, what defines American?
Too often “American names” are thought of as traditional European names; Ashley, John, Brittany, and Frank are just a few examples. Meanwhile, traditional African or Arabic names are labeled as foreign and the assumptions that come with that label can be questionable at best and downright racist as worst. Then, there’s a third category. These names are more traditionally African American names, newly created and nearly always creative. These names can be combinations of beloved relatives’ names, twists on traditional European names, or new takes on positive abstract concepts (ex. Neveah, which is Heaven, spelled backwards.) Unfortunately, the third category tends to experience the most bias in this country. From the everyday microagressions like coworkers refusing to learn the pronunciation of your name to systematic discrimination like the refusal to hire applicants with distinctly African American names, there is no doubt that America has a long way to go toward racial equality. However, despite all of the negative aspects, we are now living in the age of Quevenzhanè and I’d like to make a case for why you should consider giving your child a name from that second or third category.
Before I make my case I want to put this in perspective, all names were created at one point or another. Our language is constantly evolving, for example Ashley was first considered a boy’s name but with time it evolved to be used mainly for girls with multiple different spellings. So when we hear gripes from those that wonder why you wouldn’t just choose an existing name we have to wonder how much of this is simply shaming African Americans for being African American. We all know that doing anything while black is likely to bring criticism.
Read more on MommyNoire.com.
Jada Pinkett has been using her Facebook page to air out all sorts of social commentaries lately. Last week, she asked why so many heterosexual women were turning to other women as a last romantic resort, on Saturday, she talked about the oppression men have been forced to endure, and on Sunday she spoke out on what she considers to be bullying towards young celebrities at the hands of the media. She wrote in her post titled, “Are We Bullying Our Young Artists,” which included a photo of Rihanna, Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, and Quvenzhané Wallis:
How can we ask for our young stars to have a high level of responsibility if we are not demonstrating that same level of responsibility towards them?
This last week, I had to really evaluate the communication in regard to our young artists in the media. I was trying to differentiate cyber-bullying from how we attack and ridicule our young stars through media and social networks. It is as if we have forgotten what it means to be young or even how to behave like good ol’ grown folk. Do we feel as though we can say and do what we please without demonstrating any responsibility simply because they are famous?
Is it okay to continually attack and criticize a famous 19 year old who is simply trying to build a life, exercise his talents while figuring out what manhood and fame is all about as he carries the weight of supporting his family as well as providing the paychecks to others who depend on him to work so they can feed their families as well? Does that render being called a Douchebag by an adult male photographer as you try to return to your hotel after leaving the the hospital? Or what about our nine year old beautiful Oscar nominee who was referred to as a Douchebag as well? Or what about being a young woman in her early twenties, exploring the intricacies of love and power on the world stage? And should we shame a young woman for displaying a sense of innocence as she navigates through the murky waters of love, heartbreak, and fame? Are these young people not allowed to be young, make mistakes, grow, and eventually transform a million times before our eyes? Are we asking them to defy the laws of nature because of who they are? Why can’t we congratulate them for the capacity to work through their challenges on a world stage and still deliver products that keep them on top.
We all know how hard it is to keep our head above water, even in the privacy of our own homes let alone on the world stage. Imagine yourself, at their age, with the spotlights, challenges and responsibilities. Most of us would have fallen to the waste side before we could even get to a crashed Ferrari, a controversial romance, several heart breaks, or an Oscar nomination at NINE. We WISH we could have had the capacity to accomplish HALF of what they have accomplished along with ALL these challenges they face. But…maybe THAT’S the problem…we WISH we could have or even…we WISH we could.
I don’t know if I would put Rihanna in the same boat as a young actress like Quvenzhané, but I do get the point Jada is trying to make — though at some point I think we need to ask whether some of these stars have made their own beds long before the media got a hold of their rude boy behavior.
As a general rule though, name calling is never an appropriate exchange among anyone personally or professionally, particularly when there is a marked age difference between the parties, but someone needs to take it upon themselves to educate these young artists on the type of consequences that come along with acting out under such a huge spotlight. The blame can be equally split between these two parties.
What do you think about what Jada wrote?
Black Folks And The State Of Comedy: On Kevin Hart, The Lack Of Black Female Representation On SNL, And Black Men In Drag
Kevin Hart on gay jokes:
“The repercussions for saying certain words are harsh, and careers have been shut down. I can understand how people could be affected by certain words and slurs. I get it. My way of showing respect is to not play around with it, not mention it, not joke with it at all. I understand how serious it is.”
Now Kevin Hart on jokes about dark-skinned women:
“People are stupid. This is something so minute. If you are a Kevin Hart fan, you know exactly what I talk about and how I talk… Last time I checked, I’m as black as a doggone oil can. How can I be racist against what I am? Women, y’all just go off the deep end. Y’all kill me with this whole light skin/dark skin thing… Kevin talks about everybody. Nobody is left off limits… ”
Obviously Kevin Hart doesn’t believe that the “showing of respect” he has graciously extended to the GLBTQA [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allied] communities equally applies to that of black women. Obviously Hart is full of crap and his temperance for the GLBTQA communities is probably based more on concerns about the threat that saying the wrong thing might have on his career rather than actual genuine respect. Duly noted.
Speaking of black women and respect; why are there no sisters on Saturday Night Live? Not since Maya Rudolph has a black woman, or half-black woman, graced the comedic stage of the long running sketch comedy series. In fact, there have only been three black female members of SNL, including Ellen Cleghorne and Danitra Vance, in the entire 33 years of the series’ existence. I can understand why some of the more raw comedians like Sommore, Leslie Jones or maybe even Mo’Nique might not seem like a natural fit for the series, which caters to more of a pop audience. However, an Aisha Tyler, or Wanda Sykes or Loni Love can certainly pull off the dry and cheeky humor, which SNL is known for. Heck, Kim Wayans, formerly of In Living Color, and Debra Wilson, formerly of Mad TV, not only have sketch comedy experience, but also have proven that black women can and are in fact, funny too. So the mere fact that our reflection on the popular sketch comedy show is non-existent definitely raises a perfectly arched eyebrow or two.
Or as the website For Harriet said of the issue in December:
In today’s world, Black women are Grammy-award winning pop stars, media moguls, First Ladies, TV show hosts, actresses, sports stars, and more. We are also mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, career women, dreamers, and anything that could be just as funny or as socially relevant as SNL’s current output. To virtually make Black women’s imprint on today’s society non-existent on a platform like SNL is highly negligent in my perspective. Even more cutting is when Black women are parodied, distorted, and exaggerated by Black men in drag. As a Black woman, that only leaves me feeling like the butt of the joke, not an active agent in the humour.
And yet, SNL continues to perpetuate the idea that black women can only be funny if black male comedians in drag are parodying them, such as the case of Kenan Thompson or Kevin Hart, who as first time host of the show last Saturday, donned a blue dress to play Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. I sent the clip to many friends, who absolutely hated the sketch. Outside of any offense to Hart’s imitation of Wallis, who has already had a tough few weeks with the whole Onion/c-word incident, there was an undercurrent of anxiety over what is believed to be a conspiracy against black manhood. More specifically, that Hollywood is aiming to feminize black male actors by making them wear a woman’s apparel. This conspiracy against black manhood is a long held belief in some more paranoid circles, however, it has gained traction over the years thanks in part to comedian Dave Chappelle, who appeared on Oprah back in 2006 and spoke very candidly about the time when he was asked, and ultimately declined, to wear a dress for a part in a major motion picture film. His reasoning also involved a belief in the Hollywood/black man in drag conspiracy.
Sure there are black men like Eddie Murphy, Flip Wilson, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, Wesley Snipes and the entire male half of the Wayans family who have all explored their feminine side for the purpose of a few laughs. But to be fair, men across the racial line like Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, John Travolta, Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox, etc…have all rocked a skirt and heels too. Hollywood seems to have a strange relationship with men in drag period. For some reason, it is supposed to be funny. Or as Chris Rock once said:
“I mean, hey, lots of comedians dress up like women, not just Black. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Men in drag…There was Mrs. Doubtfire. [Adam] Sandler’s next movies is Jack and Jill. He plays his brother and sister. [The Black community] doesn’t have that many movies, so if there’s only four Black movies in a year and two of them star Black men in dresses, I could see how that would upset some people. But that’s a job for some people. Tyler Perry is great in a dress, but I don’t want to see Denzel or Will Smith in a dress. And I don’t think we’re in any danger of seeing that.”
It’s a cheap laugh – although a stupid and sexist one. If anybody should be offended it should be women, who have to sit around and watch men reinforce certain stereotypical images (particularly the finger snapping, eye-rolling flamboyantly dressed black woman) and basically have to endure what is best described as the gender equivalent of black face – or if the character happens to be black: blackface. So before we can talk about Hollywood’s nefarious grand scheme to feminize black men, let’s not ignore how black women have been completely censured, mis-characterized and eventually erased comically not just by the white decision makers, who deny them platforms, but also with assistance from our very own black brothers, who seem more than willing to sell out our image for a check. Perhaps I am making a big deal out of what is just a joke. However, as Hart says, there are repercussions for offensive material and perhaps for all the talk about “respect,” it’s about time that black women start demanding some of our own.
Oscar Curse: Terrence Howard Offers Advice To Quvenzhané Wallis After Academy Award Shine–Forget That You Were Nominated
It was 2006 when actor Terrence Howard was thrust into the major leading man spotlight when he was nominated for Best Actor because of his role as Djay in Hustle & Flow. After the notoriety of all that, Howard went on to do many more films, though not as many in a leading role capacity, and he even had the chance to star in the short-lived Law & Order: LA spin-off as Deputy D.A. Jonah Dekker, but for the most part, Howard has been doing his thing on the low-low (aside from being in the spotlight for relationship drama, but that’s another story for another day). So no one understands the ebb and flow of one’s career after picking up an Academy Award nomination like Howard, who sat down with BET.com to promote his new movie, Dead Man Down, and was asked what advice he would give new it-girl Quvenzhané Wallis at this point in her early career. He had this to say in a tone (in that interesting voice of his) reminiscent of a motivational speaker:
“Forget that she was nominated. To forget that accolades have been poured upon her because we aren’t paved tomorrow for anything of yesterday. Tomorrow is paved for what we do today. And yesterday, that nomination is for something that happened previously. She starts off brand new. Continue striving as if this is your first day being born. Learn to walk again. Learn how to walk all over again, because yesterday doesn’t exist anymore.”
Kind of deep right? In all honesty, Howard makes a really good point. I think we all can pinpoint a few actors and actresses in Hollywood who have won Academy Awards or just been nominated, only to either fall off the face of the earth or go on to star in films as their careers go on that are straight-to-DVD-worthy and fail to connect with audiences as they once did in the role that garnered them a nomination in the first place. To have longevity in such a business, she will have to keep looking for roles that challenge her as an actress, help her grow, and as Howard says, start off brand new. Get too excited and comfortable trying to be an actor and you “just might could” end up like a Cuba Gooding Jr. instead of a Denzel or Whoopi. Hey, sorry, but it’s true.
What do you think of his career advice for the talented little lady?
There’s a reason celebrities tend to pick uncommon names for their kids. Contrary to the Oscar voter who said of Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis: “Her
parents really put her in a hole with that name,” unconventional monikers can lend a significant advantage.
Admitting his own “slightly unusual first name” has been a professional boon, writer Teddy Wayne suggests, in a recent New York Times article, that our culture expects artists to have unpredictable names. It’s the reason many recording artists adopt fake names (Jay-Z and Lady Gaga anyone?), and why there is an idea of what a “writerly name” is.
Wayne specifically refers to a 1983 report by Guilford College psychology professor Richard Zweigenhaft that finds “one of the benefits of having an unusual name for women could be a greater likelihood of creativity.” He points to another interesting finding in Zweigenhaft’s study: “Female college students with unusual names scored higher on 17 of 18 traits on the California Psychological Inventory, in areas such as ‘Psychological Mindedness’ and ‘Self-Acceptance’”—which may explain Wallis’ admirable self-possession at such a young age.
Non-celebrity parents are slowly embracing the unusual name trend. CNN reported “Sookie” (as in HBO’s True Blood heroine “Sookie Stackhouse”) and “Eithne”
among the Top 10 baby girl names searched on Parenting.com in 2012. Meanwhile “Brooklyn” (also the name of Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham’s eldest son) broke the top 30 on BabyCenter.com.
But in spite of the growing trend toward outlier names, many African Americans still experience disadvantages associated with having so-called “black names”—
which is likely what the anonymous Oscar voter was getting at with his rude remark about Quvenzhané’s name. Endless studies show blacks with names that don’t sound stereotypically white “have a worse life outcome than a woman named Molly or a man named Jake,” as bestselling book Freakonomics reported. However, the reasons for this phenomenon have less to do with the name than economic circumstances, which remain dire for millions of African Americans.
The neighborhood you live in and your parents’ education level, are among the factors that determine future success more reliably than a name. Black unemployment was last reported at 13.8 percent — almost double that of the national unemployment rate — while the wealth gap between whites and blacks has grown alarmingly wide according to a recent Brandeis University study.
Clearly, having a Barack in the highest political office in America, an Oprah among the wealthiest people in the world, and a list of global stars that includes a Kanye, isn’t enough to flip centuries of discriminatory policy and racist practices directed against blacks. That said, unusual names are not a “hole,” but a platform that can be leveraged to unforgettable success. We have no clue what that Oscar voter’s name is as he opted for anonymity, but while this grown man was dissing Wallis, the nine-year-old was making history—and isn’t that what making a name for yourself is really about?
Any unusual names that you particularly like? Please share in the comments.
My father’s name is Edward. And if you should meet him, you’re to call him Edward. Not Eddie. Not Ed. Edward. He’s very particular about his name. Growing up his parents and family members referred to him by his middle name; but by the time he got to college and had an opportunity to “reinvent” himself, he insisted that he was no longer to be called DeWayne. He helped his family adjust to this change by simply refusing to answer them until they called him Edward. And it worked…for his family.
As a child, when my parents started allowing me and my sister to answer the phone, people who clearly didn’t know my dad would call, trying to perpetrate as his old college chums. This happens to everyone but we knew these people didn’t know my dad because they would say things like, “Is Ed there?” “May I speak to Ed, please?” No you may not because there’s no Ed here. Most of the time we’d correct them, “Do you mean Edward?” People were often taken aback by the fact those close to him, his family members, referred to him as Edward. One time when someone called with the “Ed talk,” I gave the caller my typical, “Do you mean Edward?” response, and he said smugly, “Yeah, same thing.” Uhh, no it’s really not. I told him that no Ed lived there and hung up.
But this, I’ve noticed is a thing with white people. Years later as an intern I was assigned the task of making a series of phone calls. And sure enough as my boss was telling me what to say and how to say it, she said “And if you notice that they have a name like William or Richard, you can say Will or Bill so you sound like someone they know.” I liked my boss but I couldn’t do that. Years living under my father’s roof had taught me that everyone doesn’t appreciate being called a nickname they never gave you permission to use.
I’ll never forget the time I saw President Obama called “Barry” in the newspaper. What the hell?! The man’s name is Barack. It’s a strong, African name yet this nationally recognized publication was whitewashing it, calling him Barry. For what?! When I expressed my disgust about the nickname, someone less ignorant told me that he’d been given that nickname very early in his life. Oh.
But he, like my father, decided to go by his formal name once he came back from college, feeling like he needed to connect to something bigger than himself. The name connects him to a history, whether he decides to run down his family tree or not. It demands respect. So yeah, I revert back to my original perturbance about the use of Barry. Why the publication would refer to the president by his first name, I don’t know; but if you must, call him Barack.
The latest person to undergo the nickname treatment is 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis. During the Oscars’ red carpet, Ryan Seacrest announced that he and his E! coworkers had decided to call Quvenzhané “Little Q.” Oh ok. Did you ask Quvenzhané if she was cool with that? She’s a very outspoken little girl, I’m sure she would have been able to tell you if she approved or not.
And that’s the problem with these despicable nicknames, rarely is permission requested. They’re not given because the person has gotten to know the other and feel a pet name more appropriately suits his or her personality. The names are given because the person’s formal name, the names the parents decided upon, most times, before they were birthed into the world are “too hard to say.” Which is really a nice way of saying too “non-white” to be bothered with. I don’t recall anybody coming up with a nickname for Arnold Schwarzenegger. We just learned to say his name. And it’s no more difficult than Quvenzhané. It’s just more European. Really, this nickname thing is just lazy and further perpetuates the “ignorant” American stereotype. We know the least about other countries and cultures because it’s hard to learn about other countries when you’re determined to call Ting Feng “Lisa.” If you won’t even attempt to pronounce her name, why would she feel comfortable sharing her culture with you? Americans just don’t care. When white folks hear those foreign sounds and their brain just shuts down temporarily and only reboots as it searches for a more appropriate, more westernized moniker. It’s not cool. So, white people, black people with white friends, or black people who’ve adopted the habit of giving out unapproved nicknames. Cut it out. These nicknames are more than just annoying they represent a lazy, insensitive culture and we have to do better.
There are some things that humor just doesn’t cover. Hopefully, the people behind satirical publication The Onion realized this yesterday evening. During the airing of last night’s 85th Oscar celebration, The Onion called 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis one of the most derogatory terms associated with women.
We can’t even type it on the site, so I’ll allow you to read it for yourself:
The tweet was deleted shortly after. But with the internet, once you press send, it’s out there forever.
Now, we all understand satire. And I’m sure The Onion thought this might be a cute way to say something so outrageous and so untrue that people would just have to love it. But this is completely disrespectful and utterly unacceptable. First, children should just be left out of these types of vulgar jokes one because this word is too charged, too painful, too disgusting and offensive to be used in any type of cheap joke. Furthermore, should 9 year old Quvenzhane stumble upon this little “joke” on the internet, is she even old enough to process it yet?
Usually, I appreciate The Onion’s humor but they’ve gone too far with this one. And hopefully, they’ll issue a sincere, well thought out apology to that effect.
The Wire and Treme actor Wendell Pierce had this to say about the offense:
“Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous.”
The sickest part of this whole incident is that The Onion’s use of this sexually suggestive word further sexualizes the image of black women, except this time taking it a step further in applying it to a child who likely hasn’t even hit puberty yet. I’m sure there will be plenty of people to argue that this “joke” has nothing to do with race. I’ll argue that maybe that wasn’t the conscious intent behind it; but what I will say is there is too much history of black women being viewed as nothing but sexual objects to not question the motives behind this despicable tweet.
Prison Culture, an organization dedicated to eradicating youth incarceration, appropriately and accurately summed up the bigger issue behind The Onion’s tweet.
This is bigger than a joke. The social and historical implications behind this tweet, whether they were intended or not, are hurtful to the psyche. The sentiment represented in that tweet show up in other areas in the lives of black women. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For now, what’s done is done. In addition to the sincere apology I hope The Onion releases, I also pray that Quvenzhane doesn’t happen to stumble upon this news and her parents don’t have to endure the daunting task of explaining satire, bad humor and what the c-word means to their 9 year old daughter.
This morning on their Facebook page, The Onion apologized for the offensive Tweet.
“I Don’t Vote For Anyone’s Name I Can’t Pronounce”: Anonymous Oscar Voter Unleashes About Quvenzhane Wallis
As we know, the Oscars are tonight and 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis is nominated for Best Actress in her role as Hushpuppy in Beats of the Southern Wild. She is the youngest nominee in the category and regardless if she wins or not, Quvenzhane has certainly been the belle of the ball to this point.
But, here we go. Someone is finally showing their cards.
Well, sort of.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with an anonymous Oscar voter who gave a very honest opinion on just about every category but was particularly blunt when it came to categories regarding actual talent. But when he got to the Best Actress role, instead of being professional in regards to his opinion of Wallis’ performance, he began by taken the low road:
“…I also don’t vote for anyone whose name I can’t pronounce. Quvez—? Quzen—? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name — Alphabet Wallis. The truth is, it’s a very sweet but immature performance from a 9-year-old. I’ve directed children. They probably did a thousand takes and put the best ones together.”
Now, many people have made fun of Wallis’ first name and even those who haven’t have had a hard time pronouncing it. However, that has not stopped people from being objective – and respectful – when it comes to her work. This anonymous voter and director, though honest, sounds like he’s been stuck in his ways for many years and could possibly miss out on rewarding a young lady who has potential to be a megastar.
Here’s the even bigger question: Do you think he’s the only one who matters in the voting process who feels this way? Much like we talk about everyday people – black people, in particular – who have unique names and may be weeded out when it comes to job searches, could Wallis be treated the same way?
What do you think about this?
Every year Essence magazine honors some of Hollywood’s most influential African-American women in television and film. The sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon will take place today as part of Oscar Week.
According to Essence, Oprah Winfrey will be honored with the Power Award; Alfre Woodard will be given the Vanguard Award; Gabrielle Union will receive the Fierce and Fearless Award; and Mara Brock-Akil will be celebrated with the Visionary Award. Newcomer and 2013 Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis will also be honored with the Breakthrough Performance Award during the star-studded lunheon.
This year, Essence has partnered with Lincoln, making the 2013 MKZ the official vehicle for the event. Writer, producer and creator Mara Brock Akil and James Bond ‘s latest “Bond Girl,” Naomie Harris, will arrive to the event in the MKZ.
Akil’s company, Happy Camper Productions, partnered with Kelsey Grammer ‘s Gramnet Productions and CBS Paramount to create the groundbreaking series Girlfriends. In 2012, she produced Sparkle and is now preparing to debut her new show Being Mary Jane starring Gabrielle Union.
Lincoln will present Harris, who starred in the last Bond installment, Skyfall, with the Lincoln Shining Star Award. Harris will star in the upcoming Nelson Mandela biopic, Long Walk to Freedom opposite Idris Elba .
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhane Wallis is an actress of talent, poise and maturity well beyond her years.
She was only 5 years old when she auditioned and 6 when she played the part of Hushpuppy, a little girl of fierce strength and resourcefulness living with her daddy in a squalid slab of Louisiana swampland known as The Bathtub. She was just a regular kid from nearby Houma, La. — she’d never even acted before, and actually pretended to be a year older than she was to be considered.
Now, at only 9, Quvenzhane (Kuh-VAHN-zuh-nay) is the youngest-ever actress nominee at the Academy Awards. Altogether, “Beasts” has four nominations at the Feb. 24 ceremony, including best picture.
While her presence is undeniable, Quvenzhane’s nomination raises the question: How young is too young to compete for an Oscar, the film industry’s highest honor, which has eluded performers with decades more experience and acclaim? Is a child really capable of acting, with craft, or do these performances reflect uncanny instinct?
Read the rest of this post on TheGrio.com.