Last week, a viral video of Maya Angelou sparked a debate surrounding courtesy ethics on Twitter. Following the clickable moment, Kim Watts, the young woman featured in the video, came forward to explain why she responded in that manner at the time.
At the time of the video, which was recorded on the talk show People Are Talking, Kim Watts was a 20-year-old college student. Now at 49 years old, she stated that she was taken aback by Ms. Angelou’s comment.
“Her response threw me off,” Watts said speaking to the Associated Press. “It was a little awkward for me, but at the same time, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is Maya Angelou. I remember feeling like, oh my gosh I insulted one of my icons, a person I look up to.”
Adopted and raised by a white couple, Watts explained that she was not raised to address elders by suffix titles such as “Mr.” or “Miss.” Watts said she can now understand the acclaimed poet’s steely response.
“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment,” the established educator said. “I like that this conversation, though, is focused on respect. Given my age now, I can see both sides of it.”
There were various takes on the Angelou and Watts video. While some thought Angelou was being too harsh, others thought Watts was at fault. “It’s an unwritten rule on respect for elders in which a lot of us were born and raised to ‘put a handle on it’,” One Twitter user who goes by @PrinceCharmingP told AP. “Me personally, coming from a strong Black Southern family, I didn’t see anything wrong with her response. Everyone is raised differently.”
Some of y'all were raised different and it shows
Be mad at Maya Angelou all you want but she spoke facts. And that's that on that pic.twitter.com/uCAIFKt8dg
— deon, but online (@Deon_ysius) March 16, 2019