On the Naming and Shaming of Quvenzhanè Wallis

On the Naming and Shaming of Quvenzhanè Wallis

We’ve been here before, most recently in the case of Gabrielle Douglas and most often with First Lady Michelle Obama. And now, Quvenzhanè Wallis. Those extraordinary Black females must be identified as something other than women and girls. So they name them. They shame them. The methods are different but the intent is always the same. So that it is understood that when the rights of women are advocated, Black females are not included in that group. When the Violence Against Women Act is debated on the Floor, it is imperative that we understand they do not mean to include women of color. How do they make the distinction between women and those females of color? They name us. They shame us. Jezebel…Mammy…Sapphire…Bitch…Cunt. When punch lines and 9 year-old girls of color are combined, we are faced with the reality of our world. That reality is that no matter how smart, talented and beautiful we are, there are those who will always refuse to acknowledge us as girls, as women, as human beings. What we learned with The Onion’s inhumane treatment of Quvenzhanè Wallis is that girls of color, from birth, are fair game.

While The Onion offers the standard apology, I remain reassured that Quvenzhanè Wallis knows her name as she so eloquently corrected a reporter who insisted upon calling her “Annie.”

“My name…is Quvenzhanè”

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