Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Raven-Symone Says She Never Said She Wasn’t Black

It’s been a few days since Raven-Symone sparked a nation-wide debate on race labels and what the preference of being called Black or African American really says about descendants of the motherland, and now the actress is offering up a bit of clarification for her polarizing statements made on Oprah’s Where Are They Now? special Sunday night.

The controversy began when Oprah asked Raven about her love life and the former child star let it be known that she was in a relationship with a woman, but wasn’t keen on being labeled gay. The idea of labeling then led into a discussion about Raven not wanting to be called African American either. She said:

Raven: I don’t’ want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled, a human who loves humans. I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American, I’m not an African American. I’m an American.

Oprah: Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire. What?! Oh, my Lord! What did you say?

Raven: I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go. I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American and that’s a colorless person.

Oprah: I mean, you’re going to get a lot of flack for saying you’re not African American. You know that right?

Raven: 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.

Since those remarks, all sorts of thought pieces about racial identity in America have arisen, not to mention criticism for the beloved Cosby star which I can only assume is what prompted Raven to release a statement to The Grio to clarify her comments just a bit. She told the site:

“I never said I wasn’t black… I want to make that very clear. I said, I am not African-American. I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people. I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America.”

While the sentiment of Black people not wanting to be labeled African American certainly isn’t a new one, it still begs the question of whether in making such a strong statement against one’s undeniable African heritage, are you somehow running from that lineage?

 What do you think? Does Raven-Symone’s statement change your opinion on her original comment?

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