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Earlier this month Ava DuVernay sat down with Van Lathan‘s podcast Red Pill and the When They See Us creator admitted she’s not a huge fan of being called Auntie on Twitter, although she’s aware it’s a term of endearment in the black community. “Auntie Ava? Why? Am I that old?! Because I don’t feel that old! And it’s not a respect thing…Auntie Ava, like…Aunt Jemima?” Ava, who is only 46, took to Twitter after the big debate online and made her position plain and clear.
Joining DuVernay’s stance on the topic are besties Oprah and Gayle King. In an interview, the two revealed they also weren’t fond of the term. “I cringe being called Auntie or Mama by anybody other than my nieces or godchildren,” Oprah says. “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.”
Gayle says the appropriate time to refer to anyone as Auntie is closer to 85. “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.”
As for what they’d prefer to be called, their first names work just fine. “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.”