AN ALTERNATIVE LOOK
I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings Hadiyyah. It takes a brave soul to put your heart and soul out there like that. Especially in criticism of a popular celebrity.
Allow me to offer an alternative look at someone like Awkwafina. First, let me say, I don't know her personally. I have seen interviews with her talking about where she came up. And I've seen the documentary "Bad Rap" that features the trials and tribulations of four Asian American rappers (Awkwafina being one of them.) I got the impression from all of them that their embrace of African American hip hop culture is not to appropriate it. But born out of where they were from and what music connected with them when they were young.
If you grow up in the heart of Jersey, Bed-Stuy, or some other conclave of African American culture, you will tend to act and dress like that. I don't necessarily think that's cultural appropriation.
I've always seen cultural appropriation as people not of a culture who take on aspects of that culture solely for the purposes of economic gain, and a) give nothing back to that culture and b) don't acknowledge and give respect to that culture. I'm not sure Awkwafina has done that.
Just because she acts one way in Crazy Rich Asians, and a different way in "The Farewell" doesn't make her leaving the culture when it suits her. They're movies. She's acting. Frankly, her character in CRA was was more over the top than she is in real life. Just like her character in The Farewell is way more "Asian" than she is in real life.
I have seen people from every culture "appropriate" some other culture they admired. I’ve seen black people adopt middle-east and far east Asian culture. I’ve seen Asians take on African American culture. Obviously, there are white people who have adopted many cultures not of their "white" background. I don't think taking on another culture's characteristics in and of itself if a bad thing. Like pornography vs. tasteful nudes, it may be similar, but it's not the same thing. And you kind of know it when you see it. I don't see what Awkwafina does as appropriating.
I welcome your feedback. Thanks again for your piece.