The Oscars 2013: Quvenzhané Wallis, The Onion, & the C-Word

Some time ago I joked about me not being able to wait for Django Unchained winning the Best Picture category at this year’s Oscar Awards, to finally be able to celebrate our post-racialness. Well, at last night’s Oscar ceremony, that didn’t happen. Ironically, the film did in fact win two awards. However, as the Hollywood’s Gods would have it, those awards went to two White men. Not that them being rewarded was undeserved; however, there’s something odd about not one single black person being nominated having participated in a movie where slavery served as its central backdrop. I can’t help it, but this leads me to believe that if there was an Oscar for Best Black Actor, sure as shit, someone White would win.

Any-which-aways, speaking of the Oscars, jokes, and the dreaded black snub. In not-so-post-racial America, some of you people have taken things too far. You know, like putting a rapist in a Viagra commercial? Okay, so that hasn’t actually happened — not yet at least. But, I’m sure you would agree that to do so would be an example of taking things too far. Case in point, check out below what someone at The Onion jokingly tweeted last night during the Oscars. The tweet has since rightfully become a source of outcry and outrage for many social activists in social media circles.

quvenzhene-wallis_the-onion_cunt_tweetThe subject of the tweet was Best Actress nominee, 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. Now as far as jokes go, I totally get it. The tweet was intended to be a satirical play on just how the adorable the rising star captivated last night’s audience. Again, I totally get it; however, it was as inappropriate as fart jokes at a MENSA meeting. Yes, it was not funny, and indeed offensive. But hey, Willis being a black female makes it acceptable, right? Of course I know some of you will say that my eternal racism-chasing ass is reaching on this one as usual. But whether you accept it or not, the truth is black women have always been subject to sexist and racist assaults; and, as though unrecognized by many it is sickening.

Jamilah Lemieux over at writes:

quvenzhene-wallis_the-onion_cunt_tweet1Sisters 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.

[…] 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.

[…] 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 andin the public eye on top of that? It’s on another level.

Jamilah is correct; heck, our right-wing friends are blasting Michelle Obama for her Oscar appearance as we speak. Yes, and as much as we rally against the perceived senseless racist attack of a black 9-year-old actress, often in our communities we level similar assaults upon women of color. So yes, while we hold The Onion accountable with petitions demanding their apology, what are we going to do about the verbal and physical assaults of women of color in the very communities for which we proclaim our undying love? It’s really sad that Quvenzhané Willis’ night has to be reduced to one ugly tweet by The Onion, rather than the fact of her being the youngest person nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Hopefully her star continues to rise in spite of the negativity she’ll encounter along the way; maybe she’ll one day present an Oscar from the White House like Mrs. Obama did last night. Not just her, but maybe any one of the many black girls — my four daughters included — though growing up in a society where male privilege and sexism dominates, will also have the world at their feet in spite of being tasked with the burden of being a black female.

Yep, and they say black women are angry for no reason…