Raven Responds to Backlash After Telling Oprah “I’m an American, I’m Not an African-American”

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:53 am |

Raven Symone Erase MS Gala

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

This Sunday on Oprah’s talk show Where Are They Now, successful child star Raven Symoné expressed her aversion to labels. Not only does this apply to her sexuality, and the country’s obsession with knowing her orientation, but also her ideas of ethnic self-identification.  Symone asserted:

“I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m an American… I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person. Because we’re all people; I have lots of things running through my veins.”

A slightly frazzled Oprah sat up in her chair and bluntly told Raven she’d receive a lot of “flack” for the statement, and then attempted to have Symoné clarify what she meant. “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.”


Of course, Oprah was right–as always–and Raven has indeed received a lot of backlash for the statement. After all, there’s a history of cultural tension in response to celebrities, or highly successful people of color who seem to slough their identity in support of a colorblind world. It raises a lot of racial-political questions. Does this mean Raven’s statement is a movement towards idealism and the elimination of racial boundaries, or do people just perceive it as disassociation?

Raven responded to the backlash:

“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,” she told TheGrio.

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Find out what Raven said to Oprah on Where Are They Now and how the public has responded. Do you agree?