Friday morning, a video of the late, great, and ever-so-eloquent Dr. Maya Angelou surfaced where she corrects a young woman who her calls her “Maya.” And for some reason, the internet has become divided over it.
In the clip, the young woman tells the moderator she has a question for “Maya” regarding interracial relationships. Maya says calmly, “Thank you. And first, I’m Ms. Angelou. I’m not Maya.” The girl repeats Angelou, to which Angelou replies “Yes ma’am.”
“I’m 62 years old.” She continues.” I’ve lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you, or any other, has no license to come up to me and call me by my first name. That’s first. Also, because at the same time, I’m your mother, I’m your auntie, I’m your teacher, I’m your professor. See?”
Now, I can’t believe we have to unpack this, but here we are. The young girl in this clip was by no means trying to be disrespectful, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t. In today’s society, we need to own up to hurting, angering, or disrespecting someone else even if it was not the intention.
Angelou is accomplished and deserves to be called whatever she pleases. For anyone taken aback by this legendary black woman, elderly black woman, educated black woman asserting her presence and brilliance to the youth and be it anyone else who is watching, you have a clear misunderstanding of where and how respect is derived.
Angelou did not disrespect the young girl, humiliate her, or anything seemingly close to that. This moment, like any other moment with Ms. Angelou, is a teaching moment. TBH, the young girl does not appear to be as rattled as the internet, with some users calling Angelou rude.
While others were shocked that some youngsters believed they could call Angelou, let alone any older individual, by their first name.
And many wanted to let Angelou’s name rest in power.
P.S. She even apologized to the young girl in second clip making its rounds on the net.
Regardless, this bit of backlash highlights a bigger issue and that’s the blatant disregard and disrespect towards one another – especially towards black women! When we assert ourselves we are rude, angry, and every other abrasive word even if the message we convey is with a calm tone. Angelou worked hard for her titles and even without them, she’s our elder so put some respek on her name and let the legend rest.