In calling Quvenzhane Wallis a cunt, The Onion perpetuates status quo on black femininity


The Onion tweet

So, The Onion during the The Oscars last night decided to turn its online gaze to a 9-year-old black girl.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the satirical news agency took to Twitter to refer to Quvenzhane Wallis as a cunt. Yes, the only word in the English dictionary used solely to communicate one’s complete lack of respect for women.

Ah, how fucking edgy for The Onion to go after and attempt to demonize the femininity of a 9-year-old black girl. How clever for The Onion to say what everyone in America was so afraid of: that a 9-year-old rising actress is “kind of a cunt, right….”

Anyway, the Associated Press reported the tweet was taken down after an hour it was posted. However, it had already been retweet 500 times and favored by another 400.

I can’t, for the life of me, justify in my mind why The Onion would even think it would be okay to call Quvenzhane a cunt. Or why it would even be okay to single out a child in their satire. Or why it would be okay to call any woman or girl a cunt, period.

But, wait. I can see why they would have had no problem singling out a black girl and degrading her with such a horrendous word designed to do nothing but blatantly disrespect women. Black women and girls’ femininity continue to be devalued and degraded in the good ol’ U.S. of A. and they are just towing the line on how we all are treated in society.

I am hard pressed to believe that The Onion would even contemplate such an attack on the likes of Dakota Fanning, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, et al if they were coming of age during the second decade of the 21st century.

I’m also hard pressed to believe the folks at The Onion will even understand the error of their ways. I’m sure The Onion and its defenders won’t understand why their act was sexist and racist since people get bent out of shape when you actually label them a racist or sexist for doing, you know, racist and sexist shit.

From the time they can walk and talk, black children are never portrayed or viewed with the innocence often given to white children. Mainstream media, whiteness and the public at large often portray black boys as hypersexual beings by the time they get into kindergarten and black girls as sassy little versions of Sapphires.

A short piece by Tami Winfrey Harris at Clutch Magazine pretty much makes my point. When she was shopping for a birthday card, Harris stumbled upon something that reflects how corporations continue to perpetuate young black girls as, well, not sweet, innocent little girls:

I noted how many cards were illustrated with cherubic, little, white girls–all curls and blue eyes, surrounded by hearts and kittens and flowers. High up in the racks, I spied a sliver of brown skin and reached for it. This is what I found…

…a screw-faced, afroed, cursing black girl. On its own, the item from Carlton Cards is perhaps unremarkable, but in the context of all those other cards idealizing white girls as the embodiment of childhood innocence, sweetness and girlitude, it stinks.

Black women have long carried the burden of the neck-twisting, ball-busting, curse-you in-a-second, Sapphire stereotype. The card above is illustrative of how early our humanity and our femininity get stripped away…of why it’s so easy to demonize black women and girls

The Onion’s labeling of as a cunt pretty much goes hand-in-hand with whiteness and racism deciding on its own that the portrayal of black girls as young, sweet, and innocent isn’t fit for our black skin, kinky hair and thick lips. Whiteness decided long ago that black girls aren’t worthy of the same respect and worship society places on young white girls.

Even black male patriarchy has decided that it’s all fine and dandy to continue to portray black women and girls as oversexed Amazons who just love to be used and abused by our own men.

The Onion’s slander of Quvenzhane goes hand-in-hand with the racist and sexist stereotypes of black women and girls, which renders us as fair game for society to violate and destroy our bodies and souls. It fits perfectly with the notion that black girls and women’s femininity doesn’t belong to us and can be revoked or ignored anytime men want to take their sadistic physical and psychological forms of torture out on us.

But, I digress. No one will come to the defense of Quvenzhane and the racist and sexist attack on her character. I’m sure the white feminist blogosphere will mostly remain all but silent as they focus on Seth McFarlane’s racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist jokes he dished out throughout Hollywood’s annual prom night. I’m sure some white feminists will defend The Onion and say how it was just a joke and how we black women need to get over ourselves. Just like they continue to ignore the relentless attacks on First Lady Michelle Obama’s body, womanhood and femininity.

White women and feminism have not and will not come to the defense of black femininity and womanhood. Recognizing black women and girls as equal, thus worthy of protection, puts white women in danger as they would risk losing that all-too-precious pedestal they cling to while ignoring their privilege.

Business will go on as usual because no one, not even black men, values and respects our femininity enough to take on whiteness and the degrading forms of oppression it inflicts on black women and girls. Sure, they’ll be a few black male bloggers, pundits, actors and entertainers who take on The Onion. However, most black men–and women, to be honest–will go on as if the attack on Quvenzhane isn’t a reflection of how their own femininity isn’t respected by black men and society as a whole.

The Onion will go on because it knows all to well that society doesn’t give two shits about black women. The Onion knows it will most likely walk away from this bullshit unscathed because black women and girls, our womanhood, our identity as black women and our femininity doesn’t belong to us and is fair game to be mocked and ridiculed as a form of entertainment for the masses.

The Onion will go on because little girls like Quvenzhane don’t stand a chance to be seen on equal and deserving of respect as long as whiteness, black male patriarchy and racism continue to dominate–and subjugate–our communities.