Social media outraged over a nearly 30-year-old clip of Maya Angelou

There are a lot of things people on the Internet could have been outraged on Friday, March 15, 2019: a mass shooting that killed 49 people, the ongoing college admissions scandal, calls by WhatsApp’s founder to delete Facebook.

And sure, some people are mad about that stuff, but thousands of others are also focusing their anger on a nearly 30-year-old clip of legendary poet, author and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Angelou, who died in 2014, was trending on Twitter after footage surfaced of her on a television show in 1990 correcting a young woman who called the longtime Bay Area resident by her first name.

In the clip, a young woman of color named Kim asked “Maya,” as she put it, her views on interracial relationships.

Immediately Angelou responded, “Thank you, and first, I’m Ms. Angelou. I’m not Maya. I’m 62 years old. I have lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you, or any other, have 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?”

(Retweet the part where Angelou compared herself to my auntie.)

But many people on Twitter expressed outrage, or even embarrassment, over the clip. “Maya Angelou did NOT have to READ this innocent girl down on national TV like that,” wrote Twitter user @Doogi_, along with three crying emojis.

Another Twitter user, @DragonflyJonez, said that the clip going viral and the ensuing discussion about it, “has me reliving all of the cringe worthy times I responded with “yes ma’am” when a lady has told me to stop calling her ma’am and now I wanna crawl under a rock and die thanks a lot guys.”

Maybe they have a point. Later in the television program, Angelou apologized to Kim “for being so short.”

Still, there were a lot of people who rushed to Angelou’s defense. Some brought up the fact that Angelou has been deceased for five years now as reason why people should not be talking about the clip.

“Maya Angelou is dead she is the literal definition of unbothered can y’all stop trying to drag a new dead person every week when you’re bored,” wrote Ira Madison III, a television writer.

Others jokingly (I hope) saw the consternation over Angelou’s comments as reason to lose faith in humanity.

“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 [29-year-old] clip,” wrote journalist Yashar Ali. “We are doomed.”

Check out how people reacted to this clip of Maya Angelou telling a young woman not to call her by her first name.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/outrage-Maya-Angelou-first-name-young-person-13692595.php.

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