Quvenzhané Appreciation Day.

Warning: This post may contain strong language. Feel free to exit if such wording offends.

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.

This oft-repeated line, part of a larger rhyme, has been passed on through generations. Last night, while watching the 85th Academy Awards, I saw all of the shots taken at young Quvenzhané Wallis, and wondered if the line had changed to “Clooneys and cunts, and receivers of brunts, that’s now what little girls are made of.” On a night where a little girl was having the time of her life, she was subject to jokes and humor she likely does not understand. Who am I to complain, though? Just another day in the life of a Black girl, right?

Miss Wallis has had to deal with media reporters calling her Annie (granted, she is the lead in an upcoming remake of the film), quips on the Red Carpet about which department store her dress came from, and humor about her sexuality which is low even for Seth MacFarlane. A so-called anonymous member of the Academy comments on not voting for “anyone whose name he can’t pronounce.” She takes it all in stride, even flexing her muscles in her signature “Beast it!” move from the movie, only to be called cocky by Chrissy Teigen (who is famous for whatever she does with John Legend) and a whole legion of Gawker readers. Tuck it in- your privilege is showing.

How on EARTH is a nine year old girl being a nine year old girl cocky, insufferable, and sassy? I hear these words and wonder if the Olsen twins ever got called that as they made their first millions purely on catchphrases and ‘tude. Who cares where her dress came from? She likely looked better than your favorite, and rocked it with a purse shaped like a puppy. I bet nobody questions the origin of Suri Cruise’s wardrobe, as she unofficially wins awards for being one of the best dressed kids under 10. The 2010 movie Kick Ass, featuring an 11 year old Chloe Moretz, bore a lot of controversy due to the styling of Moretz as “sexualized” and her use of that awful c-word. We want to shelter the children, right?

How come this doesn’t apply to all of them, then?

How long did reporters and other people that knew they’d have to say her name have to get the pronunciation of Quvenzhané’s name down? It’s not like the nominees were announced on February 23rd. There’s even a video where SHE says it. In my observations, this reduces many people of color I’ve known, both domestic and international, to either shorten their names or “adopt” a “more American” name. Of course, I live in a generation of people that have named their children after galaxies, bacteria strains, and their favorite foods, but a friend from Nigeria has a “tough” name? Just say what you really mean- “other” names make me uncomfortable.

Today, though, I want Quvenzhané, her parents, her family, her friends, and many admirers to rest in the fact that an amazing young woman is being bred. May she never lose her smile, her penchant for puppy purses, and the ability to “beast it” when times get rough. I want her to know that even as a little brown girl, she can still find, and keep, a portion of happy in this life- even as the world tries to stomp out every single bit of it. I want her to enjoy this moment, because it is just the first of many, many to come. I want her to know that all that she is, and all that she’s done, is truly appreciated.

Beast it with me for a Quvenzhané Appreciation Day.

By the way, if you’re still struggling with the pronunciation after all of that, it’s “kwah–VEN-juh-nay.”

Live. Love. Beast.

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  • Excellent! She deserves our support and admiration. She could be doing so many negative things. Kudos to you for paying homage to this emerging star. We must protect our babies from the infecting influence of racism and stand with this child.

    • Thanks for the appreciation friend! I’m sure in about a couple of weeks more “mainstream” media will try and latch on to the cause, but we can’t wait for them.

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  • Donella

    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.