Ava DuVernay launches debate over term ‘Auntie’

Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine/YouTube

Once again, Black Twitter had a long night.

Black Twitter was in full debate mode last night. This time, users were split on whether it is appropriate to refer to an older Black woman as “Auntie.” The debate began after filmmaker Ava DuVernay responded to a now-deleted tweet of podcast host Van Lathan, who referred to her as “Auntie.”

The term “Auntie” in African-American culture usually refers not only to family but any older Black women exhibiting confidence, wisdom, and warm traits. For example, many consider Mary J. Blige to be an “Auntie” of the music industry, as she is seen as someone who paved the way for many artists of this generation.

Still, some do not find the term to be endearing. Many on Twitter said they believed the term should only be used to refer to family, while others said regardless of personal sentiments, people should respect the fact that DuVernay does not want to be called “Auntie” on the internet.

Others were confused about “Auntie” can be taken as an insult, especially since the term has existed in African-American culture for generations.

Arguments against the term asserted it “desexualizes” women, and in response, some people said that there was nothing less sexy about getting older in age.

Actress Jackée Harry, who’s known for her role as Lisa Landry on the show Sister, Sister, let her fans know amid the Twitter debate that they can still use the term to refer to her. Harry is the first and only Black actress to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, which has since granted her “Auntie” status.

“We stan a confident legend,” one user said to Harry.

In the end, per her request, most people settled on calling Ava DuVernay “Queen” instead.

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Dominic-Madori Davis

Dominic-Madori Davis

Dominic-Madori Davis is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. She covers the internet, politics, and social issues.