Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey & Gayle King Explain Why They Don’t Like Being Called “Auntie”
Earlier this month, while promoting her critically-acclaimed masterpiece When They See Us, a debate evolved surrounding using the term “auntie” to describe director Ava DuVernay. While many women in the black community welcome the term as a form of respect and affection for women of a certain age and status…DuVernay doesn’t feel that way.
During an interview DuVernay had this to say about people referring to her as “auntie”:
“…Recently, I’ve been getting called (on Twitter) Auntie Ava. Let me just say, ‘why?’ ‘why?’ I mean, am I that old? ‘Cause I don’t feel that old. It’s not a respect. Auntie Ava like Aunt Jemima? But, we’re not that different in age. Are we? I appreciate that [the intended respect], but I’ve been feeling some kinda way about it cause it popped up like the last year or so, people started calling me that.”
Later, she provided names that she prefers to be called instead:
“For the record, I happily respond to: “Hello, Ms. DuVernay” “Hello, Sis.” “Hello, Queen.” “Hello, Family.” “Hello, Ava” (safest bet) Ms. Ava is fine if you’re under 18. Thanks for showing me respect regardless, Van. Had fun talking to you. Wishing you all good things.”
Now, DuVernay, along with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, discuss why they don’t take kindly to the term either.
Here’s Winfrey’s stance on being called “auntie”:
“I cringe being called Auntie or Mama by anybody other than my nieces or godchildren. Except if I’m in Africa, where it’s the custom for everybody to refer to anyone older as ‘Sister,’ or ‘Auntie,’ depending on the age difference. And there, no one refers to anyone older by their first name, out of respect.”
She then stated how she liked to be addressed:
“Oprah has worked pretty well for me. Though sometimes strangers refer to me as Lady O, which feels friendly, yet respectful of the age difference. It feels appropriate.”
Meanwhile, King had this to say about the term:
“I hate being called Auntie. That’s what you say to old people or the old lady who lives in the neighborhood! I get that it’s a sign of respect, but no one’s calling Beyoncé ‘Auntie Beyoncé!’ The only ones who should be calling me ‘Aunt’ are my niece and nephew—and they don’t add the ie.”
These latest comments are certain to spark another heavy debate as to whether or not calling someone “auntie” is disrespectful or simply paying respect.
What are your thoughts on the auntie debate? Let us know in the comments!