A video of Maya Angelou checking a teenage girl for calling her by her first name went viral and sparked a Twitter debate Friday about names, age and respect like none other.
In the video, which Newsweek reports is from the early 1990s, Angelou is sitting on stage taking questions from the audience. The host chooses a young girl who begins her question by addressing Angelou as "Maya."
“Oh, thank you,” Angelou replies to the girl in the clip. "And first, I’m Ms. Angelou."
"I’m not Maya, I’m 62 years old," Angelou 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?”
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.
The clip was uploaded by Twitter user Prince Pierre (@PrinceCharmingP) on Thursday night who captioned it, "I can’t wait to turn 30 so I can read one of yall for calling me by my first name like this."
I can’t wait to turn 30 so I can read one of yall for calling me by my first name like this: pic.twitter.com/ym71DkWCNn— Mr. Girth of a Nation (@PrinceCharmingP) March 14, 2019
By Friday morning, the video had amassed over 10,000 retweets, 30,000 likes and more than 1.2 million views.
Please know that Maya Angelou is trending nationally because there are some young folks who are offended that she directed a young woman to call her Ms. Angelou instead of Maya in a 20-year-old clip.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 15, 2019
We are doomed. pic.twitter.com/XD1odHh0cV
Conversations around the video delved into debates around age, names, manners and respect. Some commenters found Angelou's response rude, while others took no issue with Angelou demanding respect.
— conz (@radicalhearts) March 15, 2019
I fully respect everything that comes out of her mouth but this... I feel so bad for the young girl because you can tell she ment no disrespect and ended up getting checked on national television 💀.— Teeks ✨ (@TikiBrown) March 14, 2019
I would’ve been like..... pic.twitter.com/CdS4qAIhqI— King Of Kings 🤴🏾 (@TheKhadirWatson) March 14, 2019
Maya Angelou did NOT have to READ this innocent girl down on national TV like that 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/S9ILNYbCZY— Derek (@Doogi_) March 15, 2019
“I would’ve checked Maya Angelou if she spoke to me that way.”
No you wouldn’t have. pic.twitter.com/PotFg3oWk1— heterophobic. (@Tacky_Nerd) March 15, 2019
never that deep. i understand we aren’t peers but all the titles of your books say “maya angelou” ma’am - not like i’m calling you OUT your name. i would’ve said fuck the question!— thank u, lord 🧘🏾♀️ (@peukinspoint) March 15, 2019
Maya Angelou was DEADass wrong in that clip and everybody knows it— - (@drphilDONTEhue) March 15, 2019
Some of y’all weren’t raised right & it shows pic.twitter.com/cTbx6ffA9X— Maya DeBrae (@MayaDebrae) March 15, 2019
I would’ve been like “yes ma’am” pic.twitter.com/pUV1UX9Edx— Finessa_Trilliams💋🇬🇭 (@C_Jill_Run) March 14, 2019
I love this Maya Angelou conversation because it’s also revealing who more naturally identifies as a child versus an adult. Ms. Angelou was talking to a child, a 14 year-old, not YOU — an adult that just seems to mostly identify as a 14 year-old. y’all took that personal as hell.— Myles E. Johnson (@hausmuva) March 15, 2019
“Bet you can’t beat my ass though.”— Preston Mitchum (@PrestonMitchum) March 15, 2019
- Dr. Maya Angelou pic.twitter.com/I5LneBQhrK
Wait. People are trying to drag Maya Angelou for telling a young woman not to call her by her first name? Step one: You know Maya Angelou is no longer alive right? Step two: Loving, but crisp correction is what fully grown black women are known for. That's what the clip shows...— Blair LM Kelley (@profblmkelley) March 15, 2019
Imagine being called “boy” and “girl” your whole life by white people who didn’t respect you. Fighting for your life and the rights for others after you, just so those same people can grow up and say “yo mama named you Maya so Ima call you Maya”...... smh what a time to be alive— Mr. Girth of a Nation (@PrinceCharmingP) March 15, 2019
Later in the video, Maya Angelou apologized to the young girl for being short with her so everyone calling people “sensitive” for noticing the disrespect in her initial response can relax lol pic.twitter.com/fScII5YQvS— ms. angelou if ya nasty (@sportyidk) March 15, 2019
Now, can we all agree we ought to watch our mouths when talking to elders, PERIODT?! Rest in peace to the literary queen.
Now, check these out: