Beloved child star actress and comedienne Raven-Symoné probably shouldn’t check her Twitter mentions for the next couple days. Her interview with Oprah Winfrey for the show Where Are They Now recently aired and Raven-Symoné said that she doesn’t want to be labeled as African-American.
It all began when Oprah first asked Raven-Symoné about her rumored coming out on Twitter in 2013, when she said in response to California’s legalization of gay marriage: “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” Although Raven-Symoné admitted to being in a great relationship with a woman, she made it clear that tweet was not her coming out as gay – not necessarily because she’s not – but because she doesn’t want to be labeled as such. “I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay.’ I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.’”
Without any prompting or prodding from Oprah, Raven-Symoné continued and said, “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American… I mean, 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 that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”
Wait. She does know that American is still a label, right? And what exactly is a colorless person? And since when did Americans become colorless? Are we talking about the same America? The one that was divided by race pretty much from the beginning? That America?
All knowing, Oracle Oprah told Raven-Symoné to tread lightly because saying she wasn’t African-American was bound to receive a lot of flak from people, especially on Twitter. Spoiler alert: Oprah was right. Oprah then pretty much gave Raven-Symoné the opportunity to clarify her statements, but it didn’t help. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asia. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture,” Raven-Symoné said.
Wait. What? You just labeled other people and identified with their label, but you don’t want to be labeled? Color me confused.
As a person who tries to eschew labels and titles, like seriously, please don’t ask me what I “do”, I get it. I get this desire to be free from society’s constraints and resist being put in an easy, check-able, identifiable box. I also understand this idea that Raven-Symoné doesn’t have ties to the “African” part of the label because I prefer to be called Black American myself. Yes, I know that my people were brought from Africa, but from where? And when? What I know for sure is that my people were slaves in Alabama and contributed to the building up of this country. But Raven-Symoné didn’t even say that. It sounds like she wants to dismiss her African roots, then skip over being Black or a person of color altogether, and just be colorless.
Ok, girl. Good luck with that.
Check out the video below.
Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a DC resident, and a freelance writer. Of course, she’s also on Twitter.