There’s a special place in our heart for aunties who, for generations, have been the backbone of the Black community. Without their discernment, guidance and shade, we’d be raggedy, wayward and ashy without the necessary gems to live our best life.
Whether it’s nourishing souls with Sunday dinner, finding amazing sales at the outlet mall, dripping opulence in fancy QVC accoutrements, stylin’ in snazzy outfits at Essence Fest or sending care packages during the pandemic, aunties (and grandmothers) are national treasures who deserve their flowers.
Now, with that said, we’re fully aware that not all of our legends want to be called “auntie” despite most Black folks using the term to honor elders who aren’t related to them.
In a hilariously petty saga, Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay and Gayle King pushed back against the term of endearment in an interview with Oprah Mag.
“I cringe being called Auntie or Mama by anybody other than my nieces or godchildren,” Winfrey explained. “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.”
As for King, she believes 85 is the appropriate age for someone to be called “auntie,” not her age (65).
“I hate being called auntie. That’s what you say to old people or the old lady who lives in the neighborhood,” said King. “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.”
The longtime BFFs would rather people use their names when addressing them.
“Gayle works,” said King.
“Oprah has worked pretty well for me,” said Oprah about what she prefers to be called by the younger generation. “Though sometimes strangers refer to me as Lady O, which feels friendly, yet respectful of the age difference. It feels appropriate.”
This all started when DuVernay appeared on Van Lathan’s ‘Red Pill’ podcast and addressed being called “auntie.”
“Auntie Ava? Why? Am I that old? Because I don’t feel that old,” she said. “And it’s not a respect thing. Auntie Ava like Aunt Jemima?”
She later tweeted that she would rather be called “Sis,” “Family,” “Queen,” or just Ava instead of auntie which, naturally, sparked social media hysteria.
“For the record, I happily respond to Hello. Ms. DuVernay, hello, sis, hello, queen, hello, family, hello, Ava (safest bet). Ms. Ava is fine if you’re under 18,” she added.
Who’s your fave auntie of all-time? Tell us down below and enjoy our legendary list of iconic aunties on the flip.