Labeling Raven Symone: Don’t Do It, She Says In Oprah Interview

October 7, 2014  |  

Oprah’s reaction was priceless. After almost a lifetime of being labeled “African-American” herself, Winfrey was shocked to hear Raven Symone abandon it. Recently, Raven sat down for an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey to open up about a few things. For the first time, she spoke in detail about her sexuality, and she also said she did not want to be labeled “African-American.”

“Oh, girl. Don’t set up the Twitter on fire!” Oprah exclaimed, as she shifted in her seat. Knowing the backlash that Raven would get for her statements, Oprah continued her surprised reaction. “What? Oh my Lord! What did you just say? Stop, stop. Stop the tape, right now.”

For Raven Symone, who has been in the spotlight the majority of her life, the 28-year old says she does not want to be labeled. She considers herself to be “American” and that’s a “colorless people.” She’s a “melting pot,” because that’s what she feels Americans are “supposed” to be. Oprah repeated her response, with a sarcastic emphasis on “supposed to be.” Oprah knows the real.

But Raven seems to have good intentions, and is only speaking from her own personal experiences. And if she wants to be “American,” then let her be “American.” When Oprah warned her that she would “get a lot of flack about saying you’re not African-American,” Raven tried to clarify. “I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go. I can’t go on…I don’t know how far back and I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know my roots go back to Louisiana.”

It’s cute. And it seems innocent enough. But let’s be real, as she may aspire to be just American, the real world shall soon set in. Maybe it will happen later in life when she’s up a for a role and they don’t cast her because she’s “African-American.” But for right now, Black Twitter unleashed.

I’m not exactly sure if Oprah’s “set up the Twitter” was the correct phrasing, but it was my favorite thing about the interview. See, Oprah knew something that Raven obviously didn’t. Raven will need the Black community soon enough, and hopefully, these statements won’t jeopardize the support she gets. “I’m an American. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture,” she said. Bless her heart.

And then there was the “gay” label, that she also wanted to chuck. Hell, why not? Last year, Raven sent out a tweet that many considered to be her “coming out.” She wrote, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.”

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country,” she told Oprah. “But I will say that I’m in an amazing happy relationship with my partner, a woman. And on the other side, my mother and people in my family they’ve taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible…But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.”

She’s not gay. She’s a human who loves humans. She’s a Human-American. That’s so Raven.

Seriously though, as someone who has been constantly asked, “what are you?” I can relate to Raven a bit. It can be frustrating when you do not identify with a particular race. But unfortunately, America will label you regardless. Last week, I was asked “what box do you check when asked to identify yourself racially?” I shrug. It depends on the day. There’s no “American” box. If it were only that simple.

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